Are dog dental chews good for dogs?
Our team at Miller Clark Animal Hospital always encourages pet parents to take steps to protect the health of their dog's teeth and gums - after all 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'. But what are the best ways to care for your dog's oral health? There seems to be an overwhelming number of products and services out there!
The truth is that taking the time to brush our dog's teeth is one of the most effective methods for keeping your four-legged friend from developing periodontal disease (or an ugly buildup of plaque, tartar and inflamed gums). But, we know that many pets don’t appreciate our efforts to keep their mouths healthy.
This is where convenient dog dental chews come in. Along with treats and sticks, these easy-to-use products have been growing in popularity in recent years, and there are now a large number of chews and treats on the market 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.
Do dog dental treats work for dogs?
Unfortunately, there's no cut-and-dry answer as to whether dental chews work. 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. They may help keep your pet’s teeth clean and the dry kibble can certainly be satisfying for your dog to crunch on - and taste yummy - but alone they may not be enough to keep your pup's dental health in optimal condition.
Using dental chews to supplement your dog’s oral care routine can be a great option for many dogs - 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.
Before investing in dental chews for your canine companion consult your vet and consider these factors:
- Seek out long-lasting chew products such as nylon, knucklebone or rubber chew toys
- Make sure any treats or chews your provide are not too hard, as they can damage your dog’s teeth. Hooves, antlers and bones are may cause problems for some dogs.
- Be mindful of how many calories are in your pup’s dental chews - you don’t want to spark a weight problem while trying to reduce dental issues.
- Don't take product claims at face value. 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 pet about 30 minutes to have a really good chew, and reap the benefits of their dental chew. Be sure to keep an eye on your pup when they are chewing, and toss the chew if your dog gnaws it down so much that it becomes a choking hazard.
What's the best way to protect my dog's dental health?
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 fashioned toothbrush bristles can get under your pet's 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 all affect their oral health and contribute to whether they develop dental issues. This is why a qualified vet needs to see your pooch for routine health checkups at least once a year.
Should I give my dog dental chews?
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.