Doggie dental care is one of those things that most owners know is important. But unfortunately, even the most dedicated and well-meaning owners often neglect their dog’s dental care needs.
This is unfortunate, as oral hygiene is a critical aspect of dog care.
Our four-footed best friends can and do suffer from many of the same ailments humans fall victim to, including plaque buildup, gum disease and – perhaps most obviously, given their predilection for licking their owner’s faces – halitosis, or bad breath.
But there is something that can help: doggie dental chews.
We’ll share some of the best dog dental chews to make things easier. That way, you can stop having to read ingredient lists and comparing similar products, and get back to important things (like giving your dog good scritches).
Quick Picks: Dog Dental Chews
- #1 Greenies [Best Overall Dog Dental Chews]: Likely the most popular choice among owners, Greenies are generally beloved by dogs, and they feature a unique “bristle” section that helps scrape plaque and tartar from all those hard-to-reach areas.
- #2 Bark Bright [Most Convenient Dog Dental Health Solution]: The easiest possible way to keep your dog’s teeth in great shape between brushings, Bark Bright is a monthly subscription service that sends a month’s worth of dental chews and toothpaste right to your door! K9 of Mine Readers can get a free extra dental kit discount — just click that link!
- #3 Pedigree Dentastix [Most Affordable Dog Dental Chews]: Designed to reduce tartar and plaque buildup without breaking the bank, these tasty chews are available in several different flavors, so you’re sure to find one your doggo loves!
How to Choose Dental Chews for Your Pup
Like most other dog-related products, the relative quality of dental chews varies widely from one product to the next. Accordingly, it is important for owners to carefully consider the various options on the market and make an informed decision.
Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to separate the very best ones from the rest: Look for dental chews bearing the VOHC Seal of Acceptance.
This is simply a distinction that indicates the chews have been submitted to the Veterinary Oral Hygiene Council (VOHC) for review and testing and subsequently awarded the seal.
The seal does not necessarily indicate that a given chew will be the best one for your specific dog, but it does mean that the product is likely to provide effective reduction of plaque and tartar.
Of course, there are a few other things to keep in mind when picking dental chews for your dog, including:
- Size: You have to pick dental chews that are the right size for your pupper. Fortunately, most good doggie dental chew manufacturers print the recommended size range right on the packaging.
- Ingredients: The vast majority of dog dental chews made by reputable manufacturers only contain ingredients that are generally considered safe. However, some dogs have food allergies or intolerances, so you’ll want to give the ingredient list a quick skim to make sure the chews don’t contain anything that’ll cause your pup problems.
- Flavor: Flavor isn’t always a big concern — some dogs will eat anything that smells vaguely like food. But other pooches are picky, which can leave you with a bag full of dental chews he won’t eat. So, always try to pick a flavor that your dog tends to like.
6 Best Dog Dental Chews for Maintaining Your Canine’s Chompers
Now that you understand the importance of dog dental health and know a few of the things to look for, we can move on to our recommendations! No matter what your dog needs in a dental chew, you should be able to find a great option below.
1. Greenies Original Dental Dog Treats
Greenies Original Dental Dog Treats
Incredibly popular among dog owners, these dental treats have earned a VOHC Seal of Acceptance and feature unique “bristles.”
About: By most measures, Greenies Original Dental Dog Treats stand head-and-shoulders above the dog dental chew crowd. They’re not only one of the most popular and highly rated dental treats among owners, but they are popular with vets too, as they’ve earned the VOHC Seal of Acceptance.
These treats also feature a unique “bristle” section, which helps them to scrape away plaque and tartar buildup for total tooth protection. They’re also designed to be easily-digestible, so they’ll help promote dental hygiene without upsetting your pupper’s tummy.
- Recommended by vets and accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)
- Manufactured in the United States
- They’re low in fat, which is important for overweight pups
- They contain added vitamins and minerals for greater nutritional value
- Several sizes are available to suit dogs of different sizes
Wheat flour, glycerin, wheat gluten, gelatin, water...,
powdered cellulose, lecithin, minerals (dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, magnesium amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, selenium, potassium iodide), natural poultry flavor, choline chloride, fruit juice color, vitamins ( dl-alpha tocopherol acetate [source of vitamin E], vitamin B12 supplement, d-calcium pantothenate [vitamin B5], niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement [vitamin B2], vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], pyridoxine hydrochloride [vitamin B6], folic acid), turmeric color.
- Per the manufacturer, Greenies are clinically proven to provide a “total oral health solution” when offered daily
- Most dogs appear to love the taste and texture of Greenies
- They’ve earned the VOHC Seal of Acceptance
- They’re available in several sizes and package counts
- Some owners don’t like treats containing wheat products
- They’re relatively pricey
2. Bark Bright Dental Duo
Bark Bright Dental Duo
A two-part kit that’s shipped to your home on a monthly basis, these dental chews and toothpaste make dog dental care a breeze.
About: Bark Bright is a dental-care subscription program that’ll help you keep your dog’s teeth super clean in super convenient fashion. Simply sign up for the program, share a bit of info about your pupper, and wait for the packages to start arriving! No more forgetting to order dental chews all the time!
Each month, you’ll get a package of dental chews along with a triple-enzymatic dog-safe toothpaste. This double-headed dental-care combo is specifically designed to help reduce plaque and tartar, thereby keeping your canine’s chompers looking their best.
Best of all, a Bark Bright subscription is pretty affordable — it only costs about one dollar a day!
- Shipped directly to your front door on a monthly basis
- Comes with dental chews and an easy-to-use dog-friendly toothpaste
- Backed by Bark Bright’s 30-day, money-back guarantee
- Add some toothpaste to the groove on the dental chew and offer to your pup
Dental chew ingredients:
Potato Starch, Vegetable Glycerin, Gelatin, Pea Protein, Chicken...,
Water, Potato Flour, Chicken Fat, Cultured Skim Milk, Sunflower Lecithin, Citric Acid (Preservative), Powdered Cellulose, Natural Smoke Flavor, Sodium Hexametaphosphate
Water, Lactose-Free Skim Milk Powder, Glycerol, Sorbitol, Chicken Powder...,
Microcrystalline Cellulose, Alginate, Citric Acid, Enzymes, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Carboxymethyl Cellulose
- The automatic monthly shipments provide unbeatable convenience
- Most dogs go ga-ga over the taste of these chews
- Owners report visible improvements in tooth health over time
- Unfortunately, these don’t bear the VOHC Seal of Acceptance
- Chicken may be a problem for dogs with allergies
3. Pedigree Dentastix Large Dog Treats
Pedigree Dentastix Dog Dental Treats
Super affordable dental treats that are also a bit chewier than other options and shaped like an “X” to make them easy to grip.
About: Dental chews can certainly be a bit pricey, but if you need a budget-friendly way to protect your pupper’s teeth, Pedigree Dentastix may be just what you need.
Designed to reduce plaque and tartar build up while keeping your dog’s breath smelling good, these dental chews are shaped like an “X” to make them easy for your doggo to grip.
Unlike most other dental treats, Pedigree Dentastix Chews are not especially hard – they have a somewhat chewy texture. This may make them especially well-suited for dogs who already have dental issues, as well as those who just prefer softer treats.
- Constructed in a patented “X” shape to allow your pup to get the best possible grip
- Made with a chicken flavor and meaty smell dogs love
- Wheat- and rice-based recipe, with no soy
- Available in several flavors, including Original, Bacon, Beef, and Fresh
Rice Flour, Wheat Starch, Glycerin, Gelatin, Gum Arabic...,
Calcium Carbonate, Natural Poultry Flavor, Powdered Cellulose, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Iodized Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate [Source of Vitamin C], d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B2], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Vitamin D3 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Folic Acid, Alpha Tocopherol Acetate [Source of Vitamin E]), Potassium Sorbate (A Preservative), Smoke Flavor, Zinc Sulfate, Green Tea Extract, Turmeric, Iron Oxide Color, Copper Sulfate.
- Per the manufacturer, these are clinically proven to reduce tarter and plaque buildup
- Pretty affordable
- We love the variety of flavors these come in
- These treats do not have the VOHC Seal of Acceptance
- Not all dogs will appreciate the chewy texture
4. Blue Buffalo Dental Chews for Dogs
Blue Buffalo Dental Chews for Dogs
Made without wheat, soy, corn, or poultry by-products, these dental chews will protect your pet’s teeth without triggering allergies.
About: Got a sensitive pooch at home? Do you find yourself scanning the ingredient lists of treats, food, and chews to ensure they won’t upset your pup’s stomach or leave him itchy? Well, you may want to try Blue Buffalo Dental Chews.
Made without many of the ingredients that give dogs problems, these dental chews will help ensure your dog’s teeth stay clean (and breath fresh) without making him miserable. They’re also made in the USA and feature carrots, blueberries, and parsley for antioxidant awesomeness.
- Made without corn, wheat, soybeans, or poultry by-product meal
- They’re made in the USA
- They come in sizes for large adult dogs, small adult dogs, and puppies
- Made without artificial colors or flavors
Potatoes, Powdered Cellulose, Vegetable Glycerin, Water, Gelatin...,
Pea Protein, Sunflower Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Oat Hulls, Sunflower Oil, Flaxseed, Carrot, Calcium Carbonate, Dehydrated Beets (Added For Color), Zinc Propionate, Blueberries, Parsley, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Preserved With Citric Acid and Mixed Tocopherols, Oil of Rosemary.
- Most dogs appear to really love the taste of these chews — including dogs who’re typically picky
- The lack of common allergens is huge for dogs with sensitivities
- These are pretty affordable dental chews
- We wish they came in multiple flavors
- Unfortunately, these don’t bear the VOHC Seal of Acceptance
5. Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Dental Chews
Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Dental Chews
Plant-based dental chews that are great for keeping your dog’s teeth clean, even if he’s allergic to common animal proteins.
About: Most dog owners are keen to provide their pet with as much animal protein as is humanly possible, but some dogs have so many allergic triggers that it is just easier to go with plant-based products (at least as far as treats and dental chews are concerned — not your dog’s primary food).
If your dog is in that camp, you may want to check out Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Dental Chews. Based on a corn-, rice- and soy-based recipe, these chews are designed to keep your dog’s teeth clean (and breath fresh) through their natural chewing behaviors.
- Designed to reduce plaque, freshen breath and help remove tartar from the teeth
- Made in the shape of a “Z” for easy handling
- No animal protein or wheat gluten for dogs with sensitive systems
- Contains no artificial colors or flavors
- Available in 4 versions for dogs of different sizes
Corn Starch, Glycerin, Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Brewers Dried Yeast,...,
Sorbitol, Ground Corn Cob, Erythritol, Potassium Sorbate, Water, Inulin, Pomegranate.
- Owners loved the value they provide — many found half a chew was sufficient
- Dogs appear to love the taste of these
- Plant-based recipe may be helpful for dogs with allergies to common proteins
- These are made in Vietnam, which gives some owners pause
- The prices of these chews fluctuates pretty significantly
6. Milk-Bone Brushing Chews
Milk-Bone Brushing Chews
Super tasty, US-made, vitamin-packed dental chews that have earned the coveted VOHC Seal of Acceptance.
About: Milk-Bone Brushing Chews are chicken-flavored oral health treats designed to reduce plaque and tartar buildup, as well as freshen your dog’s breath. Made with rice instead of soy and fortified with vitamins and minerals, these are great for supporting your dog’s overall health.
But the big appeal of these dental treats is their taste. Simply put, doggos usually love them, which makes them an especially awesome choice for those with picky pooches.
- They’ve earned the Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)
- The recipe contains 16 essential vitamins and minerals
- Made in the USA
- Tooth-cleaning “nubs” included to help scrape plaque and tartar away
Brewers Rice, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken By-product Meal, Propylene Glycol, Dried Skim Milk...,
Modified Food Starch, Dextrin, Water, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Bone Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Gelatin, Animal Digest, Potassium Sorbate (Used As A Preservative), Phosphoric Acid, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate,
- Owners rave about how much their dogs love the taste of these dental chews
- They’ve been awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance
- The little “nubs” are great for cleaning plaque and tartar
- Chicken by-product meal is included — something some pet parents like to avoid
- They’re a bit pricey
The Importance of Dental Hygiene for Dogs
Unfortunately, not all dog owners take care of their canine’s chompers.
Some are simply unaware that dogs require oral hygiene care to protect their teeth and remain healthy, but others deliberately abstain from the practice, often citing the absence of tooth-brushing behaviors among wild animals, including wolves, coyotes, and other canines.
If wolves and other wild animals don’t have to brush their teeth, the thinking goes, why should your dog?
After all, your dog isn’t hunting elk and stripping the flesh from carcasses with his teeth – he probably eats kibble or a wet food.
It is true that wild dogs and the wolf-ancestors of our modern, domestic pets do not employ oral hygiene measures in the wild; but it is also true that many of these canines lose or break their teeth because they do not brush their chompers.
This can lead to pain, inappetence and, potentially, starvation.
Additionally, it is important to realize that our domestic pets live much longer lives than their wild-roaming counterparts do.
Whereas the average wolf only lives for 4 or 5 years, dogs often live for a decade or more. This elongated lifespan means that your dog’s teeth may need to last 2x or 3x as long as those of wild canids.
Accordingly, your dog’s teeth demand proper care and attention.
Oral Health Basics: Brush Those Teeth!
Dental chews are a great component of your dog’s dental-care routine, but they’re just that — a component. You’ll still need to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and have your vet perform regular cleanings.
Brushing your dog’s teeth is pretty simple once you get the hang of it and get into a regular groove. But while some dogs seem to enjoy it (most dog toothpastes are flavored with chicken or other dog-tastic ingredients), others absolutely hate having their teeth brushed.
Some normally placid pups may even nip at their owners’ hands during the procedure! So, be sure to start brushing your dog’s teeth early in life so he’ll get used to the practice and start to take it in stride.
Potential Risks of Dog Dental Chews
While dental chews are commonly used by pet parents, some owners and veterinarians question their safety.
While many dogs consume dental chews without suffering any ill effects, some dogs have suffered health problems associated with the use of teeth-cleaning treats. In a handful of cases, these results have proven fatal.
But don’t worry: These types of cases are almost always linked to a few key issues. To help avoid them, heed the advice below:
Look For US-Made Treats to Avoid Potentially Dangerous Ingredients
Some of the health problems associated with dental chews are similar to those that occasionally occur with other pet foods and treats: They may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs.
This occurred on a frighteningly large scale in 2007, when more than 300 dogs and cats died from eating tainted food.
Similar, if less widespread, reports have emerged, which blame ingredients in various dental chews for causing illness or death. However, the cause of many such problems has yet to be determined, and it is not yet clear that tainted dental chews are to blame.
Regardless of whether these fears are well-founded or not, it makes sense to limit these types of risks. One way that dog owners can do so is by purchasing products made exclusively in North America, where quality-control and oversight are stricter than in some Asian markets.
Still, even many US-made products source ingredients from Asia, so keep a keen eye on brand labeling and do your research to find products that use ingredients exclusively from North America.
Monitor Your Mutt and Select the Right Size Chew to Avoid Choking and Obstructions
The other potential source of harm occasionally associated with dental chews (and other edible treats) relates to choking, intestinal obstructions, and the associated trauma.
Sometimes this occurs when dogs swallow an excessively large piece, but it also occurs when they simply consume a significant quantity of a dental chew.
In either case, the swallowed portion may fail to breakdown quickly. This can block the contents of your dog’s digestive tract from progressing as they should, which can lead to a host of serious health problems.
Intestinal blockages represent a medical emergency, and it is imperative to bring your dog to the veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately if you suspect a blockage.
To help avoid intestinal obstructions, select the proper size chew for your pooch and try to ensure your dog chews the treat thoroughly.
This is not always easy with dogs that gulp their food down – you may have to offer such dogs the treats after breaking them into small pieces. Alternatively, it may be better to hold the chew in your hand and let your dog nibble at the other end.
It is also wise to select a dental chew comprised of easily digested ingredients, such as rice. Such items are less likely to bind up in your pup’s intestines and are easier on your dog’s stomach.
Dog Dental Chew FAQs
What dog dental chew cleans best?
Any doggie dental chew with appropriate ingredients that are made in the USA should do a great job at keeping your dog’s breath fresh. To find a dental chew that also cleans your dog’s teeth, look for chews with ridges, bumps, and grooves that will help scrape plaque away from your dog’s teeth.
How often can I give my dog a dental chew?
Each manufacturer will provide directions for how often you can give a dog a dental chew. On average, you can usually safely give your dog one dental chew each day. More than one a day may upset your dog’s stomach.
Can I give my dog a dental chew instead of brushing their teeth?
No, you should still brush your dog’s teeth, regardless of whether or not you feed them dental chews. Dental chews can help keep your dog’s breath fresh and can help keep teeth cleaner between brushings, but regular teeth brushing is still essential for good canine oral health!
Dental chews won’t completely eliminate the need to brush your dog’s teeth or have your veterinarian perform regular cleanings.
But giving your dog dental chews on a regular basis will help keep your dog’s teeth cleaner, gums healthier, and breath fresher. It’ll also help prevent serious problems from developing over time.
As you can see, most of the leading dental chews for dogs have been well-received by both dogs and their owners, and it is difficult to recognize any particular product as superior to the others. Each possesses its own set of strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to consider your pet’s preferences and unique needs before making your selection.
We’d love to hear your experiences – both good and bad – with various dental chews. Have you encountered a winner we missed, or have you experienced problems with any of the ones we mentioned? Let us know on in the comment section below!