What are the best dental treats for dogs?

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What are the best dental treats for dogs? - Dog eating a dog-chew in the grass

Dental treats are a great tool to help your dog’s dental health by removing some of the plaque from their teeth. However, not all dental dog treats are created equal. Read on if you have ever wondered:

  • How do dental chews and treats work?
  • What are the best dental treats for dogs?
  • How can I keep my dog’s teeth clean?
  • Does my dog need dental treats?

Treats that remove plaque and prevent plaque buildup help keep teeth clean and prevent symptoms of dental disease such as bad breath. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC) seal of acceptance to choose a treat with proven benefits, and avoid hard treats that can break your dog’s teeth. When used properly, dental hygiene treats can be an effective addition to your dog’s daily routine.

How do dog dental treats work?

Most dental treats for dogs clean teeth by scraping some of the plaque off as a dog chews. Some treats have added enzymes or agents that help soften plaque or help prevent plaque buildup. Others are advertised to help remove food particles from the crevices of molar teeth, though these claims are not widely supported. Look for treats with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of acceptance to know whether a product has been shown to be effective and work as advertised. Steer clear of treats that advertise providing fresh breath, because they simply cover up the odor temporarily and don’t address the underlying problem that caused the bad breath to begin with.

Not all dental treats work as advertised, and dental treats are not a replacement for regular toothbrushing at home. Treats cannot remove hardened tartar buildup from the teeth or plaque from below the gumline, both of which can lead to gum disease. In addition, dental treats do not treat existing dental diseases. Rather, they help prevent the accumulation of disease-causing plaque on the teeth.

What should I look for in a dental treat for my dog?

There are dozens of dental treats on the market for dogs. However, not all of them are effective, and some may be unsafe.

Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of acceptance

Treats that have been accepted by the VOHC have passed testing for efficacy and safety. Products with the VOHC seal are the best option when looking for dental treats. However, even treats with the VOHC seal of acceptance do not remove 100% of plaque and treats may vary in effectiveness. Treats can also be unsafe for some dogs, even if they have been accepted by the VOHC.

Treat hardness and texture

Aggressive chewers may need to avoid hard treats such as antlers, dental bones, and rawhide. Antlers and bones can cause tooth fractures. To avoid broken teeth, make sure that your dog’s treats are soft enough to be pitted with your thumbnail before giving them to your dog. In addition, large pieces of rawhide, bones, and antlers can break off. When swallowed, these pieces create a risk of choking and intestinal blockage. Not all dogs have these issues, however. Always supervise your dog while they chew on large dental sticks, chews, treats, and toys.

How can I improve my dog’s dental health?

Daily brushing is the gold standard for at-home canine dental care. In addition, regular dental cleanings with a veterinarian help remove plaque that cannot be removed by brushing and also allow a vet to assess your dog’s teeth for fractures and other abnormalities. Adding VOHC-accepted products such as dental chews, treats, pet food, and other dental products to a dog’s dental care routine is a great way to help remove and slow the accumulation of plaque between cleanings.

Should I give my dog dental treats?

“Dental care is important for a dog's overall health and quality of life, so it's helpful to have several options for keeping your dog's teeth clean and healthy,” explains Dr. Jo Myers, a Vetster veterinarian. “Treats that carry the VOHC seal of acceptance are one tool in that toolbox, along with daily brushing, VOHC-accepted chews, and professional cleanings.” Long-lasting treats can also provide mental enrichment while cleaning your dog’s teeth and improving their gum health.

Dental treats can be painful for dogs who already have dental problems such as periodontal disease. Before giving your furry friend a new dental treat or brushing for the first time, it’s best to talk to a vet about your dog’s dental health and their dental care options. Virtual vet appointments are an excellent way to quickly get information about your dog’s dental hygiene and advice on choosing the right dental product.

FAQ - What are the best dental treats for dogs?

What dog dental chews actually work?

Dental treats and other products that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance have solid scientific evidence showing they actually work. When looking for a dental treat for your dog, look for the VOHC seal.

What treats are best for a dog’s teeth?

Dental treats work by scraping some of the plaque from a dog’s teeth as they chew. Some treats also contain ingredients that soften plaque on the teeth and aid in plaque removal or prevent the buildup of plaque on the teeth. Treats that are accepted by the VOHC are tested and shown to work. Tooth fractures can occur with hard treats such as antlers and bones, and large pieces of rawhide can cause serious problems when swallowed, so it’s important to choose your dog’s treats carefully and supervise their use.

Can dental treats help keep my dog’s teeth clean?

Dental dog treats are a great tool to help keep your dog’s teeth healthy and clean but are not a substitute for daily brushing or regular professional dental cleanings. Even though they don’t remove tartar, dental treats can help remove or prevent the buildup of plaque before it turns into tartar. Removing plaque buildup helps keep your dog’s gums healthy and their breath fresh.

Can dental treats fix my dog’s gum disease?

Gum disease, such as periodontal disease, needs to be treated by a veterinarian. Dental treats and regular brushing are not enough to treat periodontal disease and other forms of dental disease. It’s best to talk to a veterinarian if your dog is showing signs of gum disease such as bad breath, brown discoloration of the teeth, tartar buildup, or missing teeth.