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Do dental treats and chews really work?

Our Lisle veterinarians discuss whether dog dental treats and chews are worth purchasing, which factors to consider, and share a few safety tips every dog owner should keep in mind. 

Why are dog dental treats and chews popular?

As pet owners, we know that good oral health is critical to our dogs’ long-term health, and we’re always looking for new tips to save time. Though tooth brushing is one of the most effective methods to keep your pet from developing periodontal disease (or an ugly buildup of plaque, tartar and inflamed gums), many pets don’t appreciate our efforts to keep their mouths healthy.

That’s why dog dental chews, along with treats and sticks, have been growing in popularity in recent years. There are plenty of choices out there for products that purport to help keep your dog’s teeth clean. But before you get overwhelmed, let’s review some of these oral healthcare products to identify whether they are actually worth the cost.

Will dog dental chews work to improve my dog's oral health?

Truthfully there is no straightforward answer to whether dental chews and treats work. These products may help keep your pooch’s teeth clean, and the dry kibble can be satisfying for your dog to crunch on - and taste yummy - but while these products may help to reduce tartar and plaque buildup, they’re not a substitute for regular tooth brushing and professional dental cleanings. Dog dental chews, treats and sticks should really be considered an additional tool when it comes to caring for your pup's oral health.

Feel free to use dental chews to supplement your dog’s oral care routine - somewhat like we sometimes chew sugar-free gum to keep our breath fresh, but we wouldn’t use them in place of regularly brushing our teeth or visiting the dentist.

We recommend that you consider these factors before buying dog dental chews to help keep your dog's teeth healthy:

  • Seek out long-lasting chew products such as nylon, rawhide, knucklebone or rubber chew toys (watch these closely and toss them if your dog gnaws it down so much that it becomes a choking hazard).
  • Make sure any treats or chews you provide are not too hard, as they can damage your dog’s teeth. Hooves, antlers and bones are likely to cause problems.
  • Find out how many calories are in your pup’s dental chews - you don’t want to deal with a weight problem while trying to reduce dental issues.
  • Be skeptical of any claims that some products support dental health. Check the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s list of product recommendations for buys that are worth your money.
  • Remember to book your pet’s routine oral exam and dental cleanings at your vet’s office.

How long should my dog spend chewing on dental treats?

Give your dog about 30 minutes to enjoy their chew each day. This should help to give them the maximum benefit out of their dental chews.

A Note About Dog Breeds, Teeth and Oral Health Problems

If you’ve got a small breed dog, or your pup has a jaw that’s stacked or crowded with teeth, be extra mindful of their oral health - plaque and tartar are more likely to grow in hiding spots, no matter how much effort is put into chewing.

Good old toothbrush bristles can get under the gum line and be used to brush or scrape away bacteria that may cause periodontal disease.

Remember that your dog’s immune system, age, history and breed can affect their health and contribute to whether they develops dental issues. This is why a qualified vet needs to see your pooch for routine health checkups.

The Bottom Line

While some dental chews are effective for dogs, these aren’t a replacement for regular toothbrushing or professional dental care routines. These elements of a great oral health care routine should stay on your dog’s calendar, and their teeth will remain in good condition.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your pet to have a dental examination or cleaning? Contact us to book an appointment for your canine companion. Our Lisle will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your pet's oral health.

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Green Trails Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lisle companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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