How To Choose The Best Dental Chews For Your Dog

How To Choose The Best Dental Chews For Your Dog

Some dental chews are better than others. Our expert pet nutritionist gives advice on choosing the best dental chew for your dog.

Dog dental treats: Are they a treat? Are they an oral-hygiene tool? If your dentist gave you a toothbrush made out of candy, you might be a little suspicious. The good news for your favorite furry friends is the road to good oral health can be tasty and fun. Of course, getting an effective dental chew for your pet is important. Here, our expert, Dr. Leslie, explains who evaluates these treats and what they look for. 

Who reviews dental treats? 

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) was formed as an agency for pet dental treats to make sure those crunchy chews actually work as they claim. The council has established some basic protocols for both cats and dogs to determine which treats were effective in mechanically or chemically helping prevent plaque and tartar build-up on teeth. The agency only awards its seal of acceptance to products that effectively achieve their standards. 

Which dental treats are most effective? 

Any treats accepted by the VOHC are scientifically proven to help prevent build-up of plaque, tartar or both in your four-footed friend's mouth. According to Dr. Leslie, a product awarded the VOHC seal of acceptance "needs to show that plaque and tartar formation will be retarded by 20 percent or greater as compared to a normal dry dog or cat food only." 

Treats like Milk-Bone® Brushing Chews® are accepted by the VOHC because they help clean away plaque and tartar. Even better, because the treats are so yummy, your furry companion will love to chew on them. 

About Dr. Leslie 

Dr. Leslie Hancock-Monroe has been a top veterinarian for 15 years and is a Research Fellow, Pet Nutrition & Animal Science, for The J.M. Smucker Co. 

smiling Boxer dog

Why is dental care important for my pet? 

Without proper dental care, your furry friend could wind up with a variety of health problems. According to Dr. Leslie, "periodontal disease impacts almost three-fourths of all dogs and cats over three years of age." When tartar builds up around the roots of your pet's teeth, it can cause gum infections and tooth loss. Worse yet, bacteria from these infections can then enter her bloodstream. If the bacteria travel to your pet's kidneys, heart and liver, these vital organs can become damaged. Regular dental care helps prevent this from happening and helps keep your furry companion healthy. 

Can dental treats help get rid of bad breath? 

While the main purpose of dental treats is to help prevent plaque and tartar build-up from the teeth and gums, they might also freshen your furry companion's breath, says Dr. Leslie. "Halitosis [bad breath] is the result of volatile compounds that are more abundant in pets' mouths with periodontal disease. By retarding the progression of periodontal disease, halitosis can be reduced." 

How do I give dental treats to my pet? 

Most dental treats are designed to be fed daily, as instructed on the package, but don't forget to brush those pearly whites too. Dr. Leslie recommends "for total oral care, pets should also have their teeth brushed every day." And don't forget to use pet-specific — not human — toothpaste when brushing your pup's or kitty's teeth. 

Are there any precautions I should take? 

Always watch your canine or feline companion after giving them a dental treat. Dr. Leslie says to make sure, "the treat isn't swallowed whole or that choking or vomiting does not occur." If you notice any issues, be sure to get your furry friend to the vet right away. 

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