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The best dental chews for dogs

Dental chews are a must-have since most dogs will experience periodontal disease during their lifetime. Our vets reviewed these 8 dental chews that you can trust to help clean your pup’s teeth.

Updated August 24, 2021

Created By

Kaitlyn Arford,
Dog with dental chew in mouth

The best dental chews

🔎 How we picked our favorites

Our top product picks are VOHC approved — Each of our favorite products has been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. This means it has a VOHC Registered Seal on products intended to help reduce plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth.

All of our product selections are vet-approvedWe work closely with our onsite team of vets to ensure any products we recommend are safe and non-toxic for your dog.

Best dental chews product reviews

What we love: This plant-based dental chew is gluten-free and contains no animal-derived ingredients. The unique flexible Z-wave design is created to wedge between teeth for optimum cleaning and even makes it easier for your doggie to hold. The VOHC-accepted Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Chew is okay for dogs with rawhide sensitivities to gnaw on and is easy to digest.

What customers say: With a 4.5 stars on Amazon (1,700+ reviews), customers resoundingly report that VeggieDent dental chews are effective at reducing plaque buildup and making dental care easy. One reviewer even called VeggieDent an “absolute miracle” for saving their dog’s teeth. However, some reviewers complained about the higher price tag.

Ingredients: Corn starch, glycerin, soy protein isolate, rice flour, brewers dried yeast, sorbitol, ground corn cob, erythritol, potassium sorbate, water, inulin, and pomegranate.

What we love: Tails will wag for this chicken-flavored chew and humans will adore how they’re scientifically tested to reduce tartar buildup. Manufactured in the USA, these Purina DentaLife Dog Treats contain air pockets to create a chewy texture and eight narrow ridges allow dogs to clean their teeth up to the gumline.

What customers say: With a staggering 4.7-star average rating from 932 customers, people love how their dog’s breath smells better and how their dogs can’t get enough of this oral care chew. These chews work for different ages and breeds, with one customer mentioning that their “senior dog that has lost most of her teeth” loves the chews. Multiple customers mentioned needing to buy more.

Ingredients: Rice, glycerin, wheat flour, sodium tripolyphosphate, malted barley flour, chicken by-product meal, mono and dicalcium phosphate, sorbic acid (a preservative), calcium propionate (a preservative), sodium bicarbonate, BHA (a preservative), BHT (a preservative), calcium carbonate, and citric acid.

What we love: With an affordable price tag, Purina Proplan’s dental chews pair high protein with low fat for an easy-to-digest treat. We love that these dental hygiene chews carry the VOHC seal. They freshen breath and clean teeth, leaving your dog’s mouth looking and smelling great.

What customers say: This dental chew has an average 4.5-star rating from 175 Chewy customers. From Australian shepherds to shih tzus, customers report that these chews work for all breeds (both large sizes and small sizes) and are long-lasting.

Ingredients: Beefhide, maltodextrins, animal digest, hydrolyzed corn protein, dried yeast, potassium sorbate (a preservative), xanthan gum, yellow 5, and added color.

Why dental hygiene is important for dogs

Just like humans, dogs can experience dental problems like bad breath, plaque build-up, tartar, pain, and swollen, bleeding, or irritated gums. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that 80% of dogs show signs of canine periodontal disease by age three.

👉 Take a look at our gum disease guide for more info

Oral health problems also pose a threat to your dog’s overall health. Oral disease and oral problems don’t stay in the mouth: oral bacteria enters the bloodstream and can potentially affect the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Taking care of your dog’s teeth is preventative. Good dental hygiene means delaying or preventing tooth pulling, tooth pain, and costly veterinary bills. Regular veterinary teeth cleanings are also preventative as veterinarians will remove the tartar that causes bone loss and loose teeth.

Brushing a dog’s teeth every day is the best way to prevent tartar build-up, which is why veterinarians recommend that dog owners brush their dog’s teeth daily. However, most dog owners don’t. One study by the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry showed that only 2% of dog owners brush their canine companion’s teeth daily.

It’s easy to understand why: there’s only so much time in a day, and even when owners remember, it’s unappealing to wrangle your uncooperative dog with a toothbrush and toothpaste.

That’s why supplementing your dog’s oral hygiene routine with dog dental chews is a great way to take care of your dog’s dental health.

👉 Learn how to brush your dog’s teeth

Dog dental chews are dental treats that clean dog teeth

Dog dental chews are dog treats that have teeth-cleaning powers. They give dogs an outlet to satisfy their cravings for a good chew. Since dogs explore the world through their mouths, gnawing on dental chews provides mental stimulation and alleviates boredom.

Dog dental chews come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They typically feature different ridges and dips to provide texture that help clean dog’s teeth while allowing them to better grip the bones.

Unlike dog treats, dental chews last longer. Dog treats can typically be eaten in just a bite while dental chews should last a few hours, depending on the strength and tenacity of the chewer. They make for fresher breath and can help remove plaque from your pup’s teeth.

Some dental chews are made from corn starch or other materials that can be easily digested. Many dental chews are flavored with meat or poultry meal. You can also find dental chews that are made from plants.

A yearly professional cleaning is typically recommended, though that varies by breed. Always visit the veterinarian regularly for periodontal examinations.

👉 Dental chews shouldn’t replace tooth brushing, but are a great addition to overall oral health treatment

How to shop for a dental chew

With so many options on the market, it can be hard to find the perfect dental chew. The best way to check for quality is to look for the Veterinary Oral Hygiene Council (VOHC) seal of approval. VOHC recognizes products that meet standards of plaque and tartar retardation in dogs and cats.

“Most dental chews are effective at removing plaque and foodstuffs before they harden into tartar or calculus,” said DVM Erica Irish. “Chews approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) are clinically proven to be effective at this, and some chews are coated with an enzyme that can help inhibit the formation of plaque/biofilms on dog’s teeth.”

Ask your veterinarian for advice and recommendations about dental chews. Your veterinarian knows your dog’s dental history and can tell you if it’s safe for your dog to use dental chews.

How to use dental chews safely

Always supervise your dog when they consume any type of dental chews. Be sure to make sure dogs are thoroughly chewing them. You can always break chews into smaller pieces for dogs or hold one in your hand while your dog chews on the other end.

Always select the correct size of chew based on the size of your pup, as different sizes are available. Follow the dog chew’s packaging instructions, which will specify which size works for which sized dog.

If you notice any of the following signs, it’s time to take the dental chew away and schedule a vet visit:

  • When dogs are breaking off large parts
  • Blood on the chews
  • Broken or fractured teeth
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite loss

You can also supplement daily brushings and dental chews with wipes, sprays, and dental water additives.

Harmful ingredients and potential risk

Just like any other pet treat, dental chews can contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Look for quality ingredients. While no dog chew is 100% safe, here’s a few things to stay away from:

Chews that are too hard: If the chew looks like it’s too hard for your dog to dig their teeth into, there’s a good chance that you need to go with another option. When chews are too hard for your dog’s teeth, they can damage teeth, causing tooth fractures and oral injuries. If the chew would hurt if you hit your knee with it, the dental chew is too hard for your dog.

Hard plastic and animal parts: Since dogs can ingest chews, you want to make sure that what they eat can be easily digested. Hard plastic and hard animal parts are too hard and indigestible.

Dental chews can result in intestinal obstructions when a dog swallows a large piece or consumes a large amount of chews. Intestinal obstructions are a medical emergency and can cause an emergency trip to a veterinarian or animal hospital.

👉 If you suspect a blockage, seek emergency veterinary care immediately.