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Best Dental Chews For Dogs

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Best Dental Chews For Dogs

Dogs are innate chewers but determining which dental chews are both good and safe for dogs can be challenging. Since our canine friends have a natural instinct to chew, dental chews for dogs are a win-win for pet parents wanting to please their pups while helping to keep their teeth clean. 

Let’s face it, squeezing in time to brush a dog’s teeth isn’t always feasible. “Not every pet parent can do daily brushings on their furbaby’s teeth,” says Dr. Adam Christman, chief veterinary officer for the Fetch dvm360 veterinary conference and a practicing veterinarian in Jackson, New Jersey. “Although it still is the gold standard to oral care in pets, it has its challenges.” 

The Importance of Dog Dental Health

happy dog smiling

Christman isn’t alone in his pursuits to help canines keep their chompers clean. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports by the time most dogs are three years old, they will likely have early evidence of periodontal disease. If preventative care isn’t included in a dog’s oral regimen, the disease will worsen with time.

Bacteria left to build up in a dog’s mouth may harden on teeth and contribute to dental disease. Take a whiff at your pup’s breath the next time you lean in for a kiss. Most cases of bad breath in dogs are caused by gingivitis which leads to periodontal disease. Maintaining good oral health includes a healthy diet, regular brushing, and the right dog dental chews. 

We took a closer look at some of the most popular dog chews for dental health. In between cleanings and regular oral care, here are our favorite dental treats and chews that help keep teeth in tip-top shape.

What Are Dog Dental Chews?

Beagle chewing on dental bone

Dog dental chews are designed to help satisfy a dog’s natural urge to chew while helping remove plaque and tartar through gnawing. They are not a substitute for dental care nor should they be used in place of in-office routine dental cleaning. However, canine dental treats, sticks, and chews make a great addition to your dog’s overall oral health plan. 

Not all dog dental chews are created equal. Because there are so many canine dental items on the market, the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. 

Each year, VOHC awards their seal of acceptance, which appears on specific canine dental products. They are not a regulatory agency but VOHC’s seal indicates the product is effective in reducing plaque and tartar when used as directed. 

“The longer a dog spends on a dental chew the greater the chances of them removing plaque and tartar buildup,” Christman shares. “Dental treats are effective but recommended in conjunction with a chew.”

Dental Treats Vs. Dental Chews

Dental treats are different from dental chews but neither is designed to last a long period of time. A dog’s chewing mechanism is not the same as a human being. Dogs do not chew as much or as long in order to prepare whatever they are eating for digestion. 

Dog dental treats are smaller and designed to be eaten quickly. Dog dental chews, however, provide more friction against the tooth and gum, with a goal of reducing plaque and tartar. 

What To Look For In A Dog Dental Chew 

an assortment of dog dental chews

When picking the right dental chew for your dog, there are a couple of things you should look for. These include:

Quality ingredients. Not all ingredients are created equal in dog chews. Some add unnecessary additives, which means they won’t be making our list. 

The right size. Size matters when it comes to the best dog chews for dental health. A Great Dane would surely inhale a dental chew meant for a smaller pooch like a Maltese. One of the more serious problems the VOHC reports is that of obstruction in a dog’s throat, esophagus, stomach, or intestines. 

They recommend pet parents choose the right-sized product for their dog’s body weight and to observe your pooch while she consumes the dental chew. Follow packaging guidelines on products. 

VOHC seal. While this isn’t absolutely necessary, looking for the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council ensures that the chew you’re giving your dog is safe and beneficial for your dog’s dental health. 

How We Ranked Our Top Dental Chews

We carefully selected our top dog dental chews using the following criteria: 

Reputation of the brand and company. We looked for brands and companies with positive online reviews and a good reputation in the industry. We also stayed away from brands that made false claims.

Affordability and accessibility. We chose treats that are easily accessible online or in stores and kept price in mind when picking our favorites.

Dental health benefits. We looked for treats that contained seal from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). While not all of the dental chews on our list were given this seal, it was something we weighed when putting together our list.

Versatility. We gave bonus points to dental products that had options for both small and large dogs. Plus, we liked when chews had added benefits of interactivity or fun!

Dental chews should be a fun and healthy treat to help improve and sustain your pup’s oral health. Try out a variety of dental chews to see which tastes and textures your dog prefers. 

This list includes our favorite chews, but it’s important to note that even the most avid chewer can develop oral problems. A dog’s age, background, health history, immune system, diet, and genetics all play a role in the formation of dental disease. 

Best Dog Dental Chews: Overall Winner

Our pick: OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews

Oravet dental chews

Overall, this is an all-star dental chew for dogs. It is recommended by the VOCH and displays the organization’s seal of approval. The product is also available in four sizes: 3.5 to 9 pounds, 10 to 24 pounds, 25 to 50 pounds, and over 51 pounds. 

Dr. Christman likes that these chews are moderately firm and help break down plaque and clean against calculus, or formed plaque. “It’s vital to look for the ‘mechanism of action’ of these types of dental chews,” he says. 

Each chew contains 0.7 percent Delmopinol hydrochloride (HCL) in a chewable formulation. Delmopinol HCL is an FDA-approved agent that helps fight gingivitis and plaque build up. These chews are touted as the first and only dental hygiene product for dogs with delmopinol. 

Highlights

  • Has the VOHC seal of approval.
  • Only dog dental chew with delmopinol.
  • Veterinarians recommend them.
  • Available in a variety of sizes for both large and small dogs.
  • Also helps eliminate bad breath.

Things to Consider

  • These chews are safe for dogs 6 months of age and older.
  • Only one chew per day is recommended—no more. Chewing time will depend on your dog’s breed, size, and chewing vigor. 
  • While most online reviews are overwhelmingly positive, a few have said these chews were “too hard” for their dogs. Some reviewers also found they caused an upset stomach in their pets.

Sample Buyer Review: “These Dental Hygiene Chews have given my dog a million-dollar smile… When I checked her teeth last night, she had no gook or anything on her teeth except bright white shining teeth. I just ordered more! I highly recommend this product!”

Read more sample reviews at Chewy.com.

Best Dental Chews For Small Dogs

Our pick: Greenies Original Teenie Natural Dental Dog Treats

Greenies teenie dental chews

Greenies treats for dogs are VOHC recommended and their reputation spans the years. Though labeled a treat, the unique texture of the product helps fight off plaque and tartar, making it a chew-worthy option. 

The manufacturers of Greenies say they are highly soluble so they break down easily in the digestive process. Dr. Christman says obstruction occurs when a dog “inhales” a chew rather than actively chews on the dental item. Because Greenies easily break down, we put them on our list for small dogs. 

Highlights

  • Contain the VOHC seal of approval.
  • Easy to digest for small dogs.
  • The size is perfect for toy breeds and dogs between 5-15 pounds.
  • Greenies has a great reputation for quality products and ingredients.

Things to Consider

  • The size and shape of these specific treats may not be great for large breeds or dogs that inhale their dental chews. Instead, look at larger-size options from Greenies to keep your pet safe. 
  • Some online reviewers say their dogs eat these quickly, rather than chewing on them for extended periods. 

Sample Buyer Review: “My dog gets one a day and she gets so excited when it’s “greenie time”. They are small enough for her (she’s 6 pounds) and they do help maintain her breath between brushes.”

Read more sample reviews on Amazon.com.

Best Dental Chews For Large Dogs

Our pick: Blue Buffalo Dental Bones All Natural Large Dog Treats

Blue Buffalo dental bones

Finally, a chew for dogs over 50 pounds! The Blue Buffalo Dental Bones are free from artificial flavors and preservatives. They don’t contain chicken, poultry, corn, wheat, or soy. 

The shape of the bone is designed for dogs to hold and chew so that it can rub against the surface of the back teeth. The chewy texture helps keep big-dog teeth clean along with healthier gums as part of her overall dental regimen. 

Highlights

  • These are specifically designed for large-breed dogs. Remember—size matters!
  • We love that these are free from artificial flavors and preservatives. 
  • Several online reviewers mention that these help freshen their dog’s breath.

Things to Consider

  • These have not been given VOHC approval.
  • These dental chews are not appropriate for puppies and dogs less than 5 lbs.
  • These are on the pricey side, but they are large in size. 

Sample Buyer Review: “All of our 5 dogs love Blue Buffalo Dental Bones. The large size satisfies their need to chomp away on something and these are actually good for them.”

Read more sample reviews at Chewy.com.

Top Veterinarian-Recommended Dog Dental Chews

Our Pick: Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews for Dogs

Virbac CET Enzymatic Dental Chews

Virbac is a leader in the dental health space and veterinarians have trusted their products for years. That’s just ONE of the reasons we like these poultry-flavored beef rawhide dental chews. What makes these dental products unique is the dual-enzyme system that combines a natural antiseptic plus a texture that helps to clean a dog’s teeth while chewing. These are simple to give to dogs on a daily basis and pup’s love the flavor.

Highlights

  • Limited ingredients and 100% beef rawhide
  • Dual enzyme system cleans teeth and freshens breath
  • Dogs love the poultry flavor
  • Virbac is a brand trusted by veterinary professionals

Things to Consider

  • Dogs need to chew on these to get the teeth-cleaning impact. Not ideal for gulpers!
  • Sizing of chews varies in consistency, but pups don’t mind. 
  • As with all dental chews, dogs should be supervised while chewing.

Sample Buyer Review: “This product has been a lifesaver for my dog and me. I admit I haven’t been so great about brushing my dog’s teeth his entire life. So his breath was stinky, and he had a lot of dark plaque covering his teeth. So I bought this as a last resort. The first couple times he ate this chew, the plaque fell off in huge chunks the next time I brushed his teeth! His breath has greatly improved, and with subsequent brushing, I was able to get rid of 80% of the plaque on his teeth in less than a month. A new vet we saw said he had the teeth of a 4year old dog which is saying a lot because he’s 13 years old!

Best Grain-Free Dental Chews For Dogs

Our pick: SmartBones Small Smart Chews Grain-Free Dog Treats

SmartBones dental chews

We love that SmartBones skipped the grains but included things like sweet potatoes and peas in their grain-free dental chews. Combined with kelp, this chew packs a lot of bang for the buck.

Chewy and crunchy, SmartBones chews are also adorably shaped and safer on the digestive tract than rawhide. The chew looks like a toy but is used as a treat that dogs can work on throughout the day. 

Highlights

  • Made with real veggies and chicken—no grains.
  • They come in fun animal shapes, which we love.
  • Kelp provides a great dental boost!
  • They come in a variety of sizes for small and big dogs

Things to Consider

  • These dental chews do contain chicken—just FYI.
  • They have not been given the VOHC seal.
  • Safe for puppies older than 8 weeks.

Sample Buyer Review: “I have a 20-pound Cavalier Spaniel. He is very picky on treats and dog food. He absolutely loves this treat. It’s not too tough, neither too soft.”

Read more sample reviews at Chewy.com.

Best Dog Dental Chews For Plaque

Our pick: VetIQ Minties Medium/Large Dog Dental Treat

VetIQ Mintiest dental chews

“A treat with the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s seal of approval means it has been studied and proven to have some dental benefits,” Dr. Christman shares. 

Since we are targeting plaque, our pick for the best dog dental chew goes to VetIQ Minties.

The various bumps and divots on the product are positioned to defeat plaque. Each time the dog chews on the Minties product, it is designed to effectively help clean the gums. 

These dental chews also contain five natural breath fresheners including alfalfa, parsley, peppermint, fennel, and dill.

Highlights

  • Veterinarians and the VOHC pick these for plaque-fighting. Gets the VOHC seal.
  • They’re less expensive than some other brands like Greenies.
  • We love the natural breath-freshening ingredients!
  • These are made in the USA.

Things to Consider

  • Some pet parents say they don’t like the smell of these dental chews, but others like the smell. It comes down to personal preference.

Sample Buyer Review: “I love the smell of these treats and how they freshen my dog’s breath. There is only one problem- my dog is addicted to them.”

Read more sample reviews at Chewy.com.

Best Dog Dental Sticks

Our pick: Pedigree Dentastix Large Fresh Dog Treats

Pedigree Dentastix

These chewy textured Dentastix are designed to be a stick-like snack while reducing tartar and plaque. A patented ingredient system helps freshen breath, too.

The texture of Dentastix helps get to harder-to-reach areas of a dog’s mouth. As she chews her Dentastix product, she maintains her dental health for a win-win.

Highlights

  • These dental sticks have a minty flavor which pet parents will appreciate. 
  • They are available in multiple sizes.
  • The innovative shape helps get hard-to-reach areas. 

Things to Consider

  • Does not have the VOHC approval.
  • These treats are made in Canada, but some ingredients are sourced from China and other countries. 

Sample Buyer Review: “Our dog has a DentaStix every evening to keep his teeth clean; our vet has recommended this routine.”

Read more sample reviews at Chewy.com.

Best Natural Dental Sticks

Our Pick: Twistix Vanilla Dental Dog Chews 

Twistix vanilla and mint dog dental chews

Vanilla and mint are staples for fresh breath for humans—you’ll find these ingredients in toothpaste and breath mints. But our pups’ dental hygiene can benefit from these all-natural ingredients too! Combined with other breath-freshening additions like alfalfa and parsley, these dental sticks help remove plague and tartar with no harsh or unknown ingredients. 

Highlights

  • Contain natural ingredients like rice flour, peppermint, parsley and vanilla.
  • Wheat-free, corn-free, and low-fat.
  • Spiral shape helps to remove plague and tartar.
  • Made in the USA.

Things to Consider

  • As with all dental chews, dogs should be supervised while using.
  • Due to the size, these may be better suited for medium and larger dogs.

Best Dog Dental Chews For Bad Breath

Our pick: Merrick Fresh Kisses Double-Brush Dental Dog Treats

Merrick Fresh Kisses dental chews

This is one of the only dog dental treats that is infused with mint breath strips. The unique double-brush design cleans teeth as dogs chew while it also freshens doggy breath. 

Plus, these dental chews are infused with coconut and botanical oils for fresh, clean breath and teeth. 

Highlights

  • We love the 10-ingredient formula—made without potatoes or gluten. 
  • Sizes range from small to extra-large.
  • Made in the USA. 
  • Lots of online reviews rave about these being easy to digest.

Things to Consider

  • No VOHC seal of approval.

Sample Buyer Review: “My dog has a very sensitive stomach so it’s been hard to find a dental treat that doesn’t upset her. However, she loves these and they have never upset her tummy! These also give her nice fresh breath and her teeth look great!”

Read more sample reviews at Chewy.com.

Best Natural Dental Chews For Dogs 

Our pick: Himalayan Pet Supply Dental Dog Chew

Himalayan Pet Supply Dental Chews

We define natural as from the earth without any added, unnecessary ingredients, and these dental chews from Himalayan Pet Supply (who also makes the Himalayan yak-milk chew!) fits the bill. There is no medicinal smell or taste to these treats. 

This dog dental dog chew works on the surface of a dog’s teeth to remove plaque and it also skips the hard-to-digest stuff. That means there is no lactose, no gluten, and it’s totally grain free.

Highlights

  • All-natural ingredients.
  • Available in cheese, bacon, and peanut butter.
  • Easy-to-digest formulation.

Things to Consider

  • Some online reviewers noted an inconsistency in the size and formulation of the chews.
  • No VOHC seal.

Sample Buyer Review: “My Bulldog absolutely tears through everything I buy her in minutes…I spent so much $$$ on bones for her and these take her a good 3 hours plus of sheer happiness to get through. She loves them and I am very fussy about what she gets, everything needs to be natural & easily digestible.”

Read more sample reviews at Amazon.com.

Safety When Using Dog Dental Chews

Keeping your dog happy and healthy means including proper oral care into their regular routine. 

We hope that our list of top-ranked dog dental chews helps you with your dog’s overall dental hygiene regimen. 

Remember—please supervise your pooch whenever she’s chewing on a dental product and always check in with your veterinarian for regular dental cleanings. Happy chewing!

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