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We all need to take care of our teeth—dogs included. And while a dental chew is no substitute for routine brushing sessions, they can make a great addition to your canine’s dental health plan. According to Dr. Jamie Richardson, Medical Chief of Staff at Small Door Veterinary, dental chews can help break down tartar while satisfying your dog’s natural urge to chew.
Here are the best dental chews for your dog to enjoy.
Dr. Richardson routinely recommends these chews from Purina, which are high in protein and low in fat. With beefhide as their first ingredient, they have a savory flavor that dogs love—but just as importantly, they’re proven to break down tartar and freshen breath between brushings. They’re also long-lasting, helping prevent boredom and curbing destructive behaviors in addition to being a treat. They are ideal for breeds of all sizes, and are an easy go-to for almost any dog owner.
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Dental Chewz are recognized by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to be effective at reducing tartar in dogs. Dr. Richardson recommends looking for the VOHC seal of approval on the packaging of any dental chew you buy—it typically suggests a quality product.
Milk-Bone is one of the most recognizable dog treat brands, and their Brushing Chews Daily Dental Dog Treats are an affordable, VOHC-approved product that cleans your dog's teeth (without cleaning out your wallet). The chews feature a ridged design that helps create scrubbing action as your dog chews (similar to a regular toothbrush), breaking up plaque and tartar. They're fortified with 12 essential vitamins and minerals (including tooth-strengthening calcium), and free of any artificial flavors.
Customers write that their pups adore Milk-Bone Brushing Chews Daily Dental Dog Treats, reacting to them like a regular, much-coveted treat. While they’re not long-lasting, they do a great job of working through tartar buildup. Just bear in mind that vets like Dr. Richardson always suggest pairing dental chews with regular brushing (or a professional cleaning) for the most effective care.
Grain-free diets are popular with many dog owners, particularly those trying to control canine allergies that result in itchy skin and dull coats. Fortunately, there are plenty of dental chews out there that are also grain-free, like GREENIES Grain-Free Natural Dental Dog Treats. These chews are made with dried potatoes, and have a toothbrush-inspired shape with bumps and ridges that help break down plaque and tartar while freshening breath. Thanks to the lack of grain ingredients, they’re easy to digest, but they’re still full of important vitamins and nutrients.
Dr. Richardson advises that pet owners keep their dog supervised while they’re enjoying any dental chew, as they can present a choking hazard. Focus on finding soft options (like GREENIES), which won’t damage the enamel of your dog’s teeth over time—traditional rawhide and bully sticks are notorious for this. It’s also worth staying away from things like pig ears, which are often contaminated with salmonella.
Who says the plant-based trend is just for humans? Dr. Richardson says Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Fr3sh Tartar Control Dog Chews are a great vegetarian dog chew that provide all the benefits of their meaty siblings. They have a chewy consistency, break down plaque and tartar, clean your dog’s gums, and feature a Z-shaped design that makes them easy for dogs to grasp. While they aren’t made with animal products, they still have a delicious flavor that dogs enjoy. The chews are available in small, medium, and large sizes, as well as an extra-small for tiny pups.
Customers write that Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Fr3sh Tartar Control Dog Chews solve the “chomp chomp swallow” problem noted in some other chews—namely, that your dog gulps them down before they have a chance to clean their teeth. These veggie treats require your dog to chew them for some time before they can be finished, making them a great bet for power chewers as well as pups on a plant-based diet due to allergies or other dietary issues.
Treats and dogs come in all sizes, and the best dental chews for small dogs are these Oravet Dental Hygiene Chews. These small but sturdy chews feature delmopinol, an anti-plaque agent that’s used in human oral rinse products. As your dog chews, the treats form a protective barrier that helps prevent bacteria from attaching to your dog’s gums and forming plaque and tartar (or causing bad breath). The chews are low-calorie, and suited to dogs from 10 to 24 pounds.
Customers write that Oravet Dental Hygiene Chews leave dogs with even serious halitosis with minty-fresh breath. They do a great job of breaking down tartar, and are just the right size for small breeds like Chihuahuas and King Charles Cavalier spaniels.
For large breeds, we’re fans of Purina DentaLife Adult Large Dog Treats. These chews are proven to have a 57 percent reduction in tartar buildup, helping to freshen your dog’s breath and keep their gums and teeth healthy. Each one has a ridged, porous texture that cleans all the way down to the gumline. They're also free of artificial flavors, and are suited to dogs weighing 40 pounds or more.
Customers write that dogs go crazy for the taste of these treats, and they’re about twice as long as the typical dog treat, making them a great choice for big dogs with strong jaws. Just keep Dr. Richardson’s advice in mind and make sure your pup is supervised while they’re chewing—you don’t want to end up with an accidental choking situation.
For senior dogs, we love GREENIES Senior Aging Care Natural Dental Dog Treats. While they have the same teeth-cleaning, gum-freshening formulation as regular GREENIES products, they’re 50 percent softer—making them easy for aging pups to chew. They’re made with only easy-to-digest, highly soluble ingredients that won’t unsettle a senior dog’s tummy (the chews are recommended for dogs seven and up), and are chock full of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Customers write that they’ve had great luck cleaning their senior dogs’ teeth with GREENIES Senior Aging Care Natural Dental Dog Treats. They’re also effective for dogs with gum issues or missing teeth—no, they won’t bring those teeth back, but they will go a ways towards freshening their gums up. They also get high marks for including plenty of nutritional content to support senior dogs as they age.