Our Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Mount Vernon veterinarians explain how to find out if a dog dental chew is worth purchasing, which factors to consider, and the safety tips every dog owner should keep in mind.
Why Are Dog Dental Chews Popular?
Owning a dog comes with a lot of responsibilities, and maintaining its oral health is important for your dog's overall health. But brushing your dog's teeth can be a difficult task, so you may be looking for an easy way to help maintain your dog's teeth between brushing.
That’s why dog dental chews, along with treats and sticks, have been growing in popularity in recent years. There are a lot 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 worth the cost.
Will Dog Dental Chews Work For My Pet?
There is not a yes or no answer when it comes to "do dental chews work." They may help keep your dog’s teeth clean and the dry kibble can be satisfying for your dog to crunch in her mouth - and taste yummy. Though chews that are properly designed can potentially reduce tartar and plaque buildup, they’re not a substitute for regular tooth brushing and professional dental cleanings - just an additional tool.
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 this in place of regularly brushing our teeth or visiting the dentist.
Consider these factors before buying dog dental chews which claim they support dental health:
- 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 them 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 dog’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?
Your dog may like its new chew toy and want to chew on it all day long, or until it is gone. But your dog only needs about 30 minutes a day with its chewy.
A Note About Dog Breeds, Teeth, and Oral Health Problems
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 dog 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.