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Why Using Dog Dental Chews Improves Tooth Health

How Some Treats Can Actually Help Your Dog's Teeth

By Maureen Ryan. January 30, 2014 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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A Dog Chewing On A Dental Chew

Dental chews for dogs are a good way to keep your pet’s teeth and body strong. Find out why.

Chewing does the body good if you’re a dog. In fact, well-constructed chew toys and appropriate dental snacks can offer an extra line of defense for your pet’s oral health and overall well being. These should not take the place of brushing, which is the most powerful tool you have to fight plaque and periodontal disease. However, according to the American Animal Hospital Association, gnawing on dog dental chews can effectively reduce plaque in your dog’s mouth.

Keep in mind that not all chews are created equally. Here’s what to consider when choosing chews to strengthen your dog’s teeth.

Go for Extra Tartar Control

Made with a combination of ingredients to promote healthy teeth and gums, tartar control chews are meant to complement your pet’s regular dental routine. Tartar Control Dental Stix feature an abrasive texture that scrapes away plaque and tartar.

Tartar is a combination of plaque and saliva that can form on teeth which haven’t been properly cleaned. It leaves an uneven surface on the tooth, which allows bacteria to grow. Dogs with tartar buildup may have irritated or bleeding gums. They may stop eating because of pain and can eventually develop gum disease. In cases of extreme tartar buildup, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream, putting pets at risk for kidney, liver, and heart problems.

Tartar Control Dental Stix also contains fluoride, which staves off cavities. Mint and parsley are added, as well, to reduce bad breath odor.

Offer a Safe Bone

You might assume domesticated dogs would enjoy chomping on real bones, just like canines in the wild, but natural dried bones and cow hooves could be dangerous. The American Veterinary Dental College warns that these types of chews can cause fractured teeth. Rawhide bones, then, offer a good alternative.

Raw Hide Bones, made from the hides of cows or horses, let your dog have the full enjoyment of chomping and tearing away at something, but there’s less risk of injury with these manmade bones. Chewing on them helps clean teeth, plus, they often include anti-tartar agents.

Rawhide bones come in a variety of types to match your pet’s chewing preferences. For example, forceful chewers might do well with Rawhide Natural Pressed Bones, which are extremely dense and durable.

Make it Fun

For a chew to effectively help your dog stay healthy, it has to be used – which means your pet has to love it. There are a wide variety of products that turn playtime into teeth-strengthening time. Petstages Dental Chew Rope is a cotton rope with textures that massage your dog’s gums and help remove tartar buildup. It’s also fun! You can play tug with dogs as they chew on those tartar-fighting knots.

Kong toys, which stand among dogs’ favorite playthings, provide hours of chewing fun and teeth cleaning. The Kong Dental Stick is perfect for a game of fetch or a wild chew session, but it’s also designed with special ridges that reduce plaque and gently condition gums.

The Nylabone Dental Dinosaur Dog Chew is another example of a non-edible chew that is fun to play with and effective at helping keep teeth healthy. The dinosaur shape is contoured to reach the deep corners of your dog’s mouth, targeting hard-to-remove plaque and tartar. The material is specially designed to stand up to aggressive biting and gnawing. As with all chew toys, you should supervise play with these non-edible chews to be sure your dog doesn’t swallow or choke on a piece that unexpectedly splinters off.

Feed Your Pet While Cleaning Teeth

Eating can actually help clean teeth, but not eating just any kind of food. Choosing treats that are specially formulated to reduce buildup can be a great way to keep your dog healthy. Of course, you don’t want to overfeed your dog and cause weight gain, which can be worse than tartar buildup. Greenies Weight Management Dental Treats allow you to help protect teeth while managing calorie intake. These treats have been awarded the VOHC Seal, a distinction that is given by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to products that meet high standards for reducing animal plaque or tartar. The organization is endorsed by the American Veterinary Dental College and other international organizations, and is a good source for recommendations on dental-friendly chews and treats.

More on Dog Dental Health

Cat and Dog Dental Disease
19 Products That Can Clean Cat and Dog Teeth
My Dogs' Breath Smells! What Should I Do?

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Dental Chews at a glance

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  • 1Chew toys and treats can be good for teeth but shouldn’t replace brushing.
  • 2Look for fun, sturdy chews with anti-tartar ingredients.
  • 3Always supervise chew toy use in case objects splinter.
  • 4Check recommendations for chews from the VOHC.