Do dental chews really work for dogs?

Our Charlotte veterinarians explain how to tell if a dog dental chew is worth buying, which factors we should consider, and the safety tips every dog owner should remember. 


Do dental chews work for dogs?

As dog owners, we know maintaining a good oral health routine is critical to our pups’ long-term health, and we’re always looking for the next way to save time. And although tooth brushing is one of the most effective ways to prevent our furry friends from getting periodontal disease (or the precursors of tartar buildup and inflamed gums), they’re not often appreciative of our efforts!

That’s why dog dental chews, sticks, treats and more have become popular in recent years. But before you get overwhelmed with all the choices, let’s look at these oral healthcare products and find out if they are actually worth the cost.

Dog Chewing

Will dog dental chews work for your pet?

The question of whether dental chews work is a thorny one. The satisfying crunch of dry kibble can taste yummy to your dog, and may help keep teeth clean. While properly designed chews do have the potential to reduce plaque and tartar buildup, they’re not a stand-in for routine dental cleanings.

Think of them more as a supplement to your dog’s regular oral care routine - kind of like we sometimes chew sugar-free gum to keep our breath fresh, but we wouldn’t expect that to replace regularly brushing our teeth or visiting the dentist.

There are a few things to consider before buying dog dental chews that claim to support dental health:

  • Be skeptical of claims that certain products are supportive of dental health. Check the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s list of product recommendations for worthy buys.
  • Ensure any chews or treats you give your dog are not too hard, as they can fracture teeth. Antlers, bones and hooves are likely culprits.
  • Don’t forget to schedule your pet’s routine oral exam and dental cleanings with your vet.
  • Look for long-lasting chew products such as knucklebone, rawhide, nylon or rubber chew toys (keep a watchful eye on these and toss it if your dogs gnaws it down enough for it to become a choking hazard).

How long should dogs spend chewing?

Allow your dog about 30 minutes of daily chew time for them to get the maximum benefit out of their dental chews.

About Dog Breeds, Teeth, and Oral Health Issues

Is your dog a small breed, or does he have a stacked or crowded jaw of teeth? In these cases, plaque and tartar are more likely to develop in hiding spots, no matter how much effort he puts into chewing. You’ll need good old toothbrush bristles to get under his gum line and scrape or brush away the bacteria that can cause periodontal disease.

Keep in mind that your dog’s immune system, breed, age, and history can influence his health and factor into whether he develops dental problems. That’s why routine health checkups with a qualified vet are so important.

The Bottom Line

While some doggy dental chews are effective, these aren’t an effective substitute for toothbrushing or professional dental care routines for your pooch. Keep the other elements of an excellent oral health care routine on your pup’s calendar, and their teeth will stay in good condition.

Does your dog need a routine veterinary exam? Our Charlotte vets can check your pet's health to ensure his body and teeth are in good condition. Contact us today.

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Providence Animal Hospital has been providing comprehensive veterinary care for your cherished pets in Charlotte since 1993.

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