Why Are Dog Dental Chews Popular?
Whether you're trying to keep your dog's teeth clean, keep stinky breath under control, add healthy treat options to your pup's diet, or save time, dog dental chews may look like an attractive option.
After all, many dental chews for dogs are marketed as a one-stop shop for canine dental care, and not all dogs take well to tooth-brushing, so it's no wonder they've become popular among pup parents. But how effective are dog dental chews, treats and sticks at keeping your dog's mouth healthy?
Our Fort Oglethorpe vets will explore the answers to this question in this post, along with whether these oral healthcare products for dogs are actually worth the cost.
How Do Dog Dental Chews Work?
The shape and ingredients in dental chews typically differentiate them from other treats for cats and dogs. They usually contain additives, like enzymes, that are designed to help break down bacteria in the mouth that can cause dental disease.
Dental chews may also have special lumps or ridges that are designed to prevent tartar buildup and cause pets to use a unique chewing action to break them down into pieces that are small enough to swallow.
Do Dental Treats and Chews Work for Dogs?
If you are wondering, "Do dental treats work for dogs?," or, "Are dental chews good for dogs?" there's no black and white answer to these questions (similar to many subjects surrounding pet health).
Dental chews may help keep your pup's teeth clean and properly designed chews can potentially reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Your canine companion might also find it satisfying to crunch the dry kibble in his mouth. However, dental chews are no substitute for regular tooth brushing and professional dental cleanings - just a supplementary tool.
Feel free to add dental chews to your dog's oral care routine - somewhat like how you might chew sugar-free gum to freshen your breath, but you wouldn't use this in place of regularly brushing your teeth or visiting your dentist.
Think of these factors before purchasing dog dental chews that claim they support dental health:
- Look for long-lasting chew products such as knucklebone, nylon, rawhide, or rubber chew toys (keep a close eye on these and toss them if your dog gnaws it down so much that it becomes a choking hazard).
- Check that any chews or treats you provide are not too hard, as they may damage your dog's teeth. Antlers, bones, and hooves 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?
Give your dog about 30 minutes to get his chew on every day, to give them the maximum benefit out of their dental chews.
Can Puppies Have Dental Chews?
Puppies should not have dental chews or treats until they are six months old.
Dog Breeds, Oral Health Problems & Teeth Cleaning
If you’ve got a small breed dog, or your canine friend has a jaw that’s stacked or crowded with teeth, watch out - 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 his health and contribute to whether he develops dental issues. This is why a qualified vet needs to see your pooch for routine health checkups.
The Bottom Line: Maintain Your Dog's Dental Care Routine
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.