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Do dental chews really work for dogs?

Dental chews alone are not a substitute for routine dental hygiene. In this article, our Rabun County veterinarians explain the benefits of dog dental chews, which factors to consider, and the safety tips every dog owner should keep in mind. 

Why are dog dental chews popular?

Oral health is critical to our dogs’ long-term health. As our pet's caretakers, we are always looking for new tips to save time. Tooth brushing is one of the most effective methods to keep our furry friends from getting periodontal disease. Brushing teeth regularly also helps prevent an ugly buildup of plaque, tartar, and inflamed gums. As important as brushing our pet's teeth is, it is also very difficult.

That’s why dog dental chews, treats, and sticks have been growing in popularity in recent years. There are a variety of products that help to keep your dog’s teeth clean. Before you get overwhelmed, let’s review some of these oral healthcare products to identify whether they are worth the cost.

Do dental treats and chews work for dogs?

If you are wondering whether dental chews will help keep your canine friend’s teeth healthy or if dental treats are good for your dog, there are no black and white answers to these questions. Veterinarians will not make any claims as to whether dental chews work or not.

These treats may help keep your pooch’s teeth clean, but only as an additional measure. Properly designed dental chews can potentially reduce tartar and plaque buildup, but they’re not a substitute for regular tooth brushing and professional dental cleanings.

You can use dental chews to improve your dog’s oral care routine, similar to how humans use gum. People sometimes chew sugar-free gum to keep their breath fresh, but we wouldn’t use this in place of regularly brushing our teeth or visiting the dentist.

Consider these factors before buying dog dental chews that claim they support dental health:

  • 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.
  • 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).

How long should my dog spend chewing?

Give your dog about 30 minutes to clean their teeth with a dental chew every day. This way you can give them the maximum benefit out of their dental chews.

Can puppies have dental chews?

Puppies should not have treats or dental chews until they reach six months.

Dog breeds and teeth cleaning

Watch out for small dog breeds, or canines with stacked or crowded teeth. Plaque and tartar are more likely to grow in tight hiding spots, no matter how much effort is put into chewing.

Traditional 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 dog for routine health checkups.

Maintain Your Dog’s Oral Healthcare Routine

Although 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.

Does your pet need a dental exam? Our veterinarians are experienced in performing regular dental exams and treatments. Contact our Rabun County vets.

We Can't Wait To Meet You!

Rabun Animal Hospital is currently accepting new patients! Our wonderful veterinarians are dedicated to the health and happiness of Rabun County dogs, cats, and exotic pets. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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