Top Picks for Canine Dental Health: Chews, Treats, and More

Taking care of your dog’s dental health is crucial – just like you, dogs need their teeth brushed daily to prevent plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Supplementing your dog’s dental health routine with dental chews and treats can help remove plaque and tartar, but they’re not as effective as daily brushing. These products are meant to freshen your dog’s breath and remove plaque to reduce your dog’s likelihood of developing periodontal disease. But what are the best dental chews for dogs? Keep reading to find out.

Benefits Of Dog Dental Chews & Treats

Periodontal disease (PD) stands as the most prevalent clinical condition in adult dogs, afflicting a substantial 75% to 85% of canines aged 3 years and older. This ailment gives rise to issues such as halitosis, tooth loss, and intense discomfort for dogs, which can hinder their ability to consume food. Moreover, it is intricately linked to severe health complications like heart disease and diabetes.

An extensive survey of over 200,000 Swedish dog owners revealed some compelling insights. A mere 29% regarded regular tooth brushing as highly significant, 32.2% considered it moderately important, while a significant 40% perceived it as having minimal or no importance at all. Remarkably, oral health care is a necessity for dogs to stave off severe diseases that could impair their quality of life. In a study, dogs administered daily dental chews experienced a reduction ranging from 12% to 17% in plaque coverage and thickness. What does this signify?

Dental chews and treats play a pivotal role in diminishing the likelihood of your dog developing periodontal disease. Incorporating a dental chew into your dog’s daily regimen can effectively curtail plaque and calculus buildup, address foul breath, and mitigate the risk of gingivitis.

Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Guidelines

Regrettably, one cannot always place complete trust in pet products to fulfill their claims of effectively cleaning the teeth of adult dogs. Dogs possess a natural inclination to chew, and pet owners often provide them with items like bones, bully sticks, yak chews, and rawhides. Although chewing does have the potential to diminish plaque buildup, the nature of the products they chew on can pose risks.

For instance, rawhides present challenges in terms of digestibility, and the ingestion of sizable fragments can lead to intestinal blockages. Chews that are overly hard, such as antlers, may result in broken teeth, while bully sticks can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, manifesting as vomiting and diarrhea. Many pet dental chews either lack the capacity to effectively reduce plaque buildup or have the potential to harm your pet’s dental health.

Indeed, chewing is beneficial for your dog; however, not all toys and chews contribute positively to their dental well-being. When seeking dental health treats, it is advisable to exclusively consider products that bear the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Approval.

The VOHC Seal serves as an assurance that a product adheres to predefined standards for the reduction of plaque and tartar accumulation in dogs and cats. Products that have obtained approval will prominently display this seal on their packaging. Alternatively, you can utilize the VOHC’s website to identify products that have been granted their acceptance for dogs.

6 Best Dental Chews & Treats For Dogs

Every dog has different dental health needs and chewing preferences. For example, vets may recommend different types of dental chews for healthy dogs than they would for dogs in the progressing stages of dental disease. Additionally, your pet’s age may play a role. While most dogs have a natural urge to chew, older dogs typically don’t chew as often as they did when they were younger and healthier. Therefore, a senior dog may benefit from a chew treat instead of a longer-lasting chew.

Wondering which dental chews are right for your dog? We’ve rounded up the best dental chews for dogs to help you find the best one for your canine companion. Here are our top picks for the best dental treats and sticks for dogs.

Dental Chews For Dogs

The best dental dog chews are palatable and easily digestible. However, every dog is different, and you won’t know if your dog likes a product until they try it. A few of the best dental chews for dogs include the following:

1. C.E.T. VeggieDent Fresh Tartar Control Dog Chews

These dog dental chews are plant-based and designed to reduce plaque and tartar buildup while freshening breath and supporting a healthy digestive system with prebiotics. These are some of the best dental sticks for dogs because they’re chewy to help eliminate plaque and tartar and are designed with a Z-shape to help your dog grip onto them while chewing. Each chew treat works by having an abrasive yet gentle texture that breaks up calcified plaque and tartar on teeth.

2. Canine Greenies

Greenies offers some of the best dental treats for dogs, and they’re most known for their toothbrush-shaped green treats. Vets recommend Greenies because they’re delectable, easy to digest, and clean teeth down to the gumline.6 These dental chews are designed to fight plaque and tartar with natural ingredients, and there are multiple varieties to meet any dog’s specific needs.

3. HealthiDent, Bright Bites, and Checkups Chews for Dogs – all sizes

HealthiDent and Bright Bites have been discontinued and are now sold under the name Checkups. Checkups are popular dental treats for dogs clinically proven to reduce plaque by 25% and tartar by 62%.7 These dental treats are designed for dogs weighing 20 or more pounds. They should not be given to small breeds or puppies.

Checkups for dogs freshen breath, stimulate gums, and contain omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Milk-Bone Brushing Chews for Dogs

Milk Bone is one of the most well-known treat brands for dogs. Their Brushing Chews contains 12 vitamins and minerals and a patented dental twist bone with nubs and ridges to scrape plaque and tartar from teeth. These treats are clinically proven to be effective at defending against tartar buildup, while the ridges are designed to clean like bristles on a toothbrush.

Rawhide Chews

Rawhide chews are designed to be longer-lasting and can help reduce plaque and tartar on dog teeth. However, rawhides made from animal hides can be dangerous for pets, especially if you have a heavy chewer who likes to bite off and swallow large chunks since they can cause choking or blockages.

Monitoring your pet while they consume rawhides is crucial to prevent them from swallowing large pieces. However, when used correctly, rawhide dental chews can be an excellent option for helping clean your dog’s teeth because they’re long-lasting.

Tartar Shield Soft Rawhide Chews for Dogs

Tartar Shield Soft Rawhide Chews are some of the best chews for dogs’ teeth because the patented formula is clinically proven to reduce bacteria, prevent plaque, reduce tartar buildup by more than 50%, and freshen breath. These rawhide dental chews are gentle on your dogs’ teeth and gums.

Purina Veterinary Diets Dental Chewz Brand Dog Treats

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet Dental Chewz are long-lasting rawhide treats that work effectively to reduce tartar buildup in dogs fed two treats per day. These treats freshen breath and clean teeth and are long-lasting for even the heaviest chewers. Additionally, they’re high in protein and low in fat, making them a great option for all types of dogs.

Precautions With Dental Chews For Dogs

Always maintain supervision over your dog when they are enjoying a dental treat. Although these treats are designed for easy chewing and digestion, exuberant dogs may attempt to swallow large portions without proper chewing. Furthermore, it is advisable to steer clear of dental chews and dog toys that are not recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), including items like antlers, yak milk chews, pig ears, and hooves.

While many of your dog’s preferred toys and chews can aid in reducing plaque and tartar while they chew, they lack the specific ingredients necessary for a significant reduction in plaque and tartar buildup. Therefore, it is essential to always seek the VOHC seal when shopping for dog dental treats and chews.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that dog dental chews and treats account for no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Maintaining a balanced and appropriate nutritional intake for dogs is critical to their overall well-being, as an excessive caloric increase due to dental treats can lead to weight gain.

If you have concerns about your dog’s oral health, the most beneficial course of action is to consult your veterinarian. During your dog’s annual checkup, your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination of your dog’s oral cavity to identify any signs of tooth decay. Moreover, specific dental chews may be more suitable for your dog based on their unique dietary requirements. For instance, if you have a diabetic dog, they would benefit from dental treats that are low in calories and fat while being high in protein.

Engaging in a discussion with your veterinarian about the most appropriate dental treats for your dog can provide valuable guidance in selecting the right products.


Do vets recommend dental sticks?

Yes. Many veterinarians recommend dental sticks because they can help remove plaque and tartar to keep your dog’s mouth cleaner in between brushings. However, they’re meant to supplement your dog’s oral care routine, so your dog should have their teeth brushed every day to effectively eliminate plaque and tartar that can contribute to periodontal disease.

Are dental chews for dogs effective?

Dental chews for dogs are effective, but you should only purchase from brands with clinical studies that provide proof. VOHC-approved brands typically conduct studies to give you more information about the amount of plaque and tartar their dental sticks can eliminate. However, it’s important to note that no treatment is more effective than brushing your dog’s teeth.

While the best dental sticks for dogs can reduce plaque and tartar, it’s highly unlikely they’re scraping every tooth. For example, many dogs chew with one side of their mouth, so the dental treat probably isn’t making it to the other teeth. That said, they can help eliminate a significant amount of plaque while freshening your dog’s breath.

How else can I promote good dental hygiene for my dog?

The best way to ensure the health of your dog’s teeth and gums is to brush their teeth every day. Treats, chews, and water additives are meant to supplement your dog’s oral health routine; they’re not meant to replace brushing. Of course, your dog will have to be trained to tolerate having their teeth brushed. You’ll also need a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Never, under any circumstances, use a human toothbrush or toothpaste when brushing your dog’s teeth. Human toothbrushes are too rough on dog gums, and human toothpaste may contain dangerous ingredients.

In addition to regular brushing, your dog should have their teeth examined by a vet every year. Depending on their condition, your vet may recommend a professional cleaning to remove any broken or infected teeth and clean the remaining ones.

Final Notes

Dental chews for dogs can help eliminate plaque and tartar, but they shouldn’t replace regular brushing at home. Not taking care of your pet’s oral health can contribute to gingivitis and periodontal disease that leads to tooth loss and severe pain that impacts your dog’s quality of life.