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Do dental chews really work for dogs?

Dental chews can be great for our canine companions. While they offer physical and psychological benefits, there are a few considerations before you let your dog start chomping. Here, our vets in Eastham answer the questions of 'Do dental chews and treats work for dogs' and 'Can puppies have dental chews?'.

How do dental chews work?

As dog owners, we know maintaining a good oral health routine is critical to our pups’ long-term health, and we’re always looking for the next way to save time. Although tooth brushing is one of the most effective ways to prevent our furry friends from getting periodontal disease (or the precursors of tartar buildup and inflamed gums), they’re not often appreciative of our efforts!

That’s why dog dental chews, sticks, treats, and more have become popular in recent years. But before you get overwhelmed with all the choices, let’s look at these oral healthcare products and find out if they are worth the cost.

Are dental chews good for dogs?

The question of whether dental chews work is a thorny one. The satisfying crunch of dry kibble can taste yummy to your dog and may help keep teeth clean. While properly designed chews do have the potential to reduce plaque and tartar buildup, they’re not a stand-in for routine dental cleanings.

Think of them more as a supplement to your dog’s regular oral care routine - kind of like we sometimes chew sugar-free gum to keep our breath fresh, but we wouldn’t expect that to replace regularly brushing our teeth or visiting the dentist.

There are a few things to consider before buying dog dental chews that claim to support dental health:

  • Be skeptical of claims that certain products are supportive of dental health. 
  • Ensure any chews or treats you give your dog are not too hard, as they can fracture teeth. Antlers, bones, and hooves are likely culprits.
  • Don’t forget to schedule your pet’s routine oral exam and dental cleanings with your vet.
  • Look for long-lasting chew products such as knucklebone, rawhide, nylon, or rubber chew toys (keep a watchful eye on these and toss them if your dog gnaws it down enough for it to become a choking hazard).

How long should dogs spend chewing?

Allow your dog about 30 minutes of daily chew time for them to get the maximum benefit out of their dental chews.

What about oral health concerns?

Is your dog a small breed, or does he have a stacked or crowded jaw of teeth? In these cases, plaque and tartar are more likely to develop in hiding spots, no matter how much effort he puts into chewing. You’ll need good old toothbrush bristles to get under his gum line and scrape or brush away the bacteria that can cause periodontal disease.

Keep in mind that your dog’s immune system, breed, age, and history can influence his health and factor into whether he develops dental problems. That’s why routine health checkups with a qualified vet are so important.

In Conclusion

While some doggy dental chews are effective, these aren’t an effective substitute for toothbrushing or professional pet dental care routines for your pooch. Keep the other elements of an excellent oral health care routine on your pup’s calendar, and their teeth will stay 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.

Is it time for your dog's routine checkup including a dental cleaning? Our vets at Eastham Veterinary Hospital are here to help. Contact us today.

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