What are the best dental treats for dogs?

When it comes to all things you give your dog, whole-food based naturally-sourced products are the safest and healthiest options. Often the problem for pet parents is that these kinds of items are rarer and potentially harder to acquire. Many of the products on the market are manufactured with various fillers, rancid oils, colors, and flavors that do not serve the health of your pet. Rather than suggesting specific products, let’s talk about what to look for in the best dental treats for dogs so you can make an informed buying decision.

First Things, First – Routine Oral Care

Before you set off to grab a bunch of dental treats, the first step in the process is making sure you have an established oral care routine set up. An oral health routine that best serves your pet includes a few key factors. These factors include:

  • Whole-food based all-natural pet foods (human-quality ingredients)

  • Daily exercise (at least 20-minutes/day of hearty panting)

  • Yearly professional dental cleaning (at least)

  • Daily tooth brushing (yes, daily)

  • Naturally-sourced chewable items (like chew toys or dental treats)

When you have these things in place, you are setting up your pet for the best oral health you can. When any of these factors are not in place, offering a dental chew will not have the impact you are looking for if oral health is your goal. There are no shortcuts to a well cared for doggy mouth, no matter what anyone tells you.

Potential Risks of Dental Chews

Although rare, there have been cases of pet fatality due to the ingestion of dental chews made from negligible ingredients. These treats are often made with ingredients sourced from countries that do not have the same rigorous quality standards as there are in North America and Europe. To avoid this issue, always look for products that include ingredients sourced only from reputable sources and then made in North America or Europe.

There is also a chance that your dog can bite off an unusually large chunk of a manufactured dental chew that causes internal obstruction. These chunks of material can cause internal issues that can be serious. The key to avoiding this is to provide your dog with the proper chew for their bite strength and mouth size. Large, strong-jawed dogs need tougher-to-chew materials than a small dog does.

Remember, dogs are geared for chewing. In nature, they look for bones, antlers, cartilage, and other items to keep their mouths in good shape. Providing healthy sources of these chewable natural items is nearly always a safe play.

How To Choose a Dental Chew

As with all things in the consumer space, not all products are equal – not even close. When it comes to dental chews, look for a product (in the very least) that includes the Veterinary Oral Hygiene Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance. This is a product that has been vetted by the professionals and is considered acceptable for use. If you’re going to opt for a manufactured dental chew product, this is the first step.

If you are going to use a natural product like antler or raw bone, make sure it is sourced from an organic, antibiotic-free animal. These are now more readily available and are an excellent choice for assisting your pet with their oral health needs. They last a long time, rarely break off in dangerous chunks, and provide much-needed nutrition as your dog consumes the rich marrow. This is true for antlers as well.

As a note of caution, many experts suggest staying away from rawhide – although this opinion is not universal. The reason is that rawhide can swell in the stomach and create internal issues for your dog, especially if he likes to tear off chunks and swallow them whole. Raw bone, antler, and even cow hooves may be a better choice.

Final Thoughts

So, what are the best dental treats for dogs? The answer is simple. It’s the ones that your dog really loves to chew, is sourced from natural ingredients, has the VOHC seal of approval, and is the right size for the bite strength and mouth size of your dog. When a dental chew is part of a well-rounded oral health routine, you give your dog the best chance of a healthy mouth or years to come. We are here for you if you’d like to schedule a dental exam. We offer them as part of a full wellness visit, as well. Give us a call today, and we’d be glad to discuss this further.