The 10 Best Dental Chews for Dogs (2021 Reviews)

Humans aren’t the only ones that need to manage their dental health — just like us, dogs should also follow a regular oral care routine.

In addition to tooth brushing and annual cleanings, dental chews are a great way to keep your pup’s pearly whites in top shape. But with all of the options on the market, you may be wondering which chews to buy. To help, we researched hundreds of products, and thousands of verified reviews, to find the 10 best dog dental chews and treats available now.

Every recommendation we provide is Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC®) approved, so you can rest assured you’re giving your dog the best in oral care. Here’s our list:

Our Picks for the Best Dental Chews for Dogs

1. Greenies Original Natural Dog Dental Treats

greenies dental treats

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Greenies is a consistent favorite among veterinarians and dog parents. These all-natural dental chews fight against tartar, plaque, and bad breath, and are fully made in the USA. They also come packed with vitamins and minerals for an extra healthy treat.

Key Features:

  • Daily dog dental treats with a chewy texture
  • Fights tartar and plaque down to the gum line, freshens breath
  • Made in the USA (Kansas City)
  • Formulated with vitamins and minerals
  • All natural ingredients
  • VOHC approved
  • Available in different sizes for every dog breed

2. Virbac C.E.T VeggieDent FR3SH Chews for Dogs

virbac cet veggiedent chews

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Virbac FR3SH’s “Z shaped” chews are designed to scrape tartar and plaque off your dog’s teeth, while also freshening breath. They’re available in multiple sizes, and are paired with a prebiotic that supports digestive health.

Key Features:

  • Daily dog dental chew
  • Reduces tartar and plaque on teeth
  • Clinically proven to improve bad breath
  • VOHC approved
  • Includes a prebiotic for healthy digestion
  • All natural; made without artificial flavors or preservatives

3. ProDen PlaqueOff Natural Dental Bone Dog Treats

proden bacon dental bones

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ProDen PlaqueOff Dental Bones support oral health in two ways: grooved pockets scrape away plaque and tartar from teeth, while added sea kelp and algae remove bacteria through their natural enzymes. Heads up that these chews are suitable for dogs older than 6 months, and that weigh over 5 pounds.

Key Features:

  • Daily dental chews in bacon flavor
  • Removes plaque and tartar, and freshens breath
  • Made with natural sea kelp and algae, which contain enzymes that aid in bacteria removal from teeth
  • All natural; no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Contains flaxseed, a source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • VOHC approved
  • Made in the USA

4. Milk-Bone Fresh Breath Brushing Chews

milk-bone brushing dental chews

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Milk-Bone Brushing Chews are made with grooves and ridges that act like the bristles on a toothbrush, scraping away tartar and plaque down to your dog’s gum-line. The formula also includes real spearmint for extra fresh breath after a chew session.

Key Features:

  • Daily dog dental chews that fight plaque and tartar buildup
  • Freshens breath with real spearmint
  • All natural ingredients
  • Affordably priced relative to other options
  • Available for all breed sizes
  • Made in the USA & VOHC approved

5. OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews for Large Dogs

oravet dog dental chews

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OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews are another solid choice for your dog’s oral health. These treats break away plaque and tartar as your dog chews, while also forming a barrier against bacteria and bad breath. They’re VOHC approved and suitable for dogs older than six months.

Key Features:

  • Daily dog chew
  • Only product to contain Delmopinol, which prevents bad breath causing bacteria
  • VOHC approved
  • Also available for small dogs, medium dogs, and extra large dogs
  • Suitable for dogs six months and older

6. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Dental Chewz

purina dog dental chews

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Looking for a rawhide chew to keep your dog occupied for long periods? Purina Pro Plan Dental Chewz are the only rawhides approved by the VOHC to reduce plaque and tartar by over 15%. They’re suitable for all breeds of adult dogs, and are made with beef hide as the first ingredient.

Note: you’ll need a quick sign-off from your vet to buy these chews. Provide your vet’s info at checkout and Chewy (the seller) will follow up with them after the purchase.

Key Features:

  • Rawhide dog dental chews
  • The only rawhide that’s VOHC approved for dental effectiveness
  • Smaller dogs may need chews cut up for them
  • Requires veterinarian approval

7. Whimzees Natural Dental Dog Treats, Brushzees

whimzees dog dental chews

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Whimzees Dental Brushzees are a great choice to prevent plaque and tartar buildup on your dog’s teeth. These textured dental treats have specifically designed nooks to scrape away plaque and tartar. If you’re looking for strictly vegetarian chews, these are your best bet.

Key Features:

  • Daily dental chew that fights plaque, tartar, bacteria, and bad breath
  • VOHC approved, and veterinarian recommended
  • All-natural with vegetarian ingredients
  • Ingredients include alfalfa for vitamins, dietary fiber, and malt extract
  • Sizes suitable for all dog breeds

8. Purina DentaLife Small & Medium Adult Dog Treats

purina dentalife

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Purina DentaLife treats are chicken flavored and include ridges that clean your dog’s teeth while chewing. In scientific trials, DentaLife reduced tartar buildup by 57% through regular use.

Key Features:

  • Daily dog dental chew in chicken flavor
  • Average 57% reduction in tartar buildup with regular use
  • Freshens breath
  • Made without artificial flavors or colors
  • Affordable compared with other options
  • Made in USA and VOHC approved
  • Also available for large dogs, and mini dogs

9. VetIQ Minties Dental Dog Treats for Medium & Large Dogs

vetiq minties dental treats

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VetIQ Minties are made with a “triple-action formula” that cleans teeth and removes plaque and tartar. These treats are also made with ingredients (such as peppermint) that fight bad breath, leaving your pup’s mouth minty fresh.

Key Features:

  • Daily dog dental treat
  • Contains peppermint, dill, fennel, parsley, and alfalfa for extra fresh breath
  • VOHC approved and veterinarian recommended
  • No wheat, gluten, soy, or artificial flavors
  • Made in the USA
  • Also available for “tiny” and small dog breeds

10. Tartar Shield Soft Rawhide Chews

tartar shield rawhide chews

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Tartar Shield Rawhide Chews give the feel of rawhide, with the easy chew of a regular treat. If you’re looking for a tougher option, but don’t want a traditional rawhide, these are for you. Mostly importantly, these chews contain active ingredients that fight tartar and plaque formation by more than 50%.

Key Features:

  • Dog dental chews in bacon flavor
  • Contains sodium tripolyphosphate that fights against tartar, and a separate antimicrobial ingredient that prevents plaque formation
  • Prevents plaque and tartar buildup by more than 50%
  • Available for small dogs and large dogs
  • VOHC approved and veterinarian recommended

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Dog Dental Chews Buying Guide

Canine Dental Issues

Did you know that dental issues and diseases are common for dogs? In fact, about 80% experience some form of dental disease by the time they turn three.

To prevent oral problems, you should regularly examine your dog’s teeth and gums for warning signs. Here’s a list of symptoms that may indicate your dog is experiencing a dental issue:

  • Discolored teeth or teeth with excessive tartar buildup
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Swelling or redness of gums
  • Tumors or cysts on gums
  • Abnormal chewing or falling food when eating
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • Irritability or other drastic changes in behavior

For more serious problems on this list, we suggest paying a visit to your veterinarian to ensure you’re taking the proper course of action.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, refers to an infection and inflammation of the tissue around the tooth — the periodontium. Early detection is important as periodontal disease is common and only gets worse over time.

Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease in your dog can include:

  • Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Pus between teeth
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Loose teeth or the loss of teeth
  • Gums that heavily recede from teeth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unwillingness to let you touch their face

The development of periodontal disease is the same for dogs as it is for humans. Plaque builds up on teeth and eventually hardens to form a substance called tartar. This tartar is filled with bacteria, and can eventually lead to infections in the gums securing the tooth. While plaque can be removed through regular brushing, tartar must be cleaned out by a professional cleaning.

The good news is that periodontal disease can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene!

Maintaining Canine Dental Health

Dental problems may sound scary, but don’t worry. Through proper oral care, it’s easy to keep your dog’s teeth in top shape.

Regular Tooth Brushing

Just like for humans, regular tooth brushing is the foundation of a healthy oral care routine for dogs. A number of different toothbrushes can be used; however you should never use normal human toothpaste. Instead, use a toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs or try a vet recommended recipe for homemade dog toothpaste.

brushing a dog's teeth

It can be difficult to get your dog comfortable with their first brushing session, so here are some tips to ease them into it:

  1. Use your fingers to touch your dog’s lips, then teeth and gums, to accustom them to something contacting these areas
  2. Put a small amount of toothpaste on your dog’s lips to introduce the taste
  3. Let your dog sniff the toothbrush, and gently move the brush around their mouth
  4. Once your dog is willing to let you brush their teeth, apply the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle using a gentle circular motion.
  5. Concentrate on one area at a time, and pay attention to the sides that touch the cheeks.

Most dog toothpaste can be swallowed, so don’t worry about rinsing out your dog’s mouth after brushing!

Here’s a helpful video to guide you through the process:

Veterinarians recommend brushing at least three times per week to maintain proper oral health.

Professional Dental Cleanings

In addition to brushing, you should also bring your dog to the vet for an annual dental cleaning. Similar to your own dentist visits, these deep cleans remove more plaque and tartar than is possible though brushing at home. Cleanings are typically performed under anesthesia to ensure your dog cooperates and remains comfortable throughout the appointment. After a professional cleaning, your vet may also recommend extra polishing or a tooth extraction if necessary.

When to See a Veterinarian

In most cases, taking the preventative measures we’ve outlined above will keep your dog’s teeth in top shape. However, if you suspect more serious issues are at play, you should always consult your veterinarian. Here are some examples of when you should take a trip to the vet:

Foul smelling breath: Many dogs have bad breath due to regular plaque, however a very foul smell may be a sign of an oral issue.
Excessive bleeding from gums: Your dog may require a prescription.
Loose or discolored teeth: A cleaning or extraction may be necessary.

Dogs rely on the cleaning they receive from the vet, so even if you follow a perfect dental hygiene routine at home, you should also go in for periodic check-ups. Middle-aged and senior dogs especially need to be monitored, as dental issues are more likely to appear in older age.

How Dental Chews Supplement A Healthy Routine

In nature, dogs maintained their oral health through chewing things like sticks and animal bones. This scraped off plaque and tartar, naturally keeping their teeth healthy.

Dog dental chews aim to do the same. They scrape off and slow the formation of plaque and tartar, while also strengthening teeth. As dogs have a natural desire to chew, adding dental treats into their diet is a great way to maintain oral health while also keeping them happily occupied!

dog chewing on treat

What to Look for When Buying Dog Dental Chews

Size of Chew

Dental chews come in different sizes to match most breeds. Large dogs are best suited with chews big enough to not present a choking hazard, while small dogs should have chews easy enough to bite on.

Ingredients & Effectiveness

For dental treats, look for high-quality ingredients with low fat content. Some options may also include enzymes that fight against plaque build-up.

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) maintains a full list of approved dental treats recommended by veterinary experts. In order to receive the VOHC seal, a dental chew must reduce plaque or tartar by a minimum of 15% for friction based options. Enzyme or compound based chews must reduce plaque or tartar by 20%. It’s important to only look for dental chews that pass these standards! The good news is that all of our recommendations above are VOHC approved and tested.

Hard versus Soft

If you choose to buy a dental toy instead of a treats, be sure to inspect how it’s made. Dental chew toys should be hard enough to scrape against plaque, but also soft enough to not break your dog’s teeth.

As a rule of thumb, you should be able to make a slight indentation on a toy when pressing into it. Avoid antlers and sharp bones, as well as any hard plastics.

Frequency of Use

Dogs should use a dental chew about once per day — however each product can be different. Be sure to read the instructions on the packaging for the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dog dental chews safe?

Yes! Though it’s important to purchase only Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved chews, and follow directions on the packaging.

What are dog dental treats?

Dental treats are daily chews given to your dog to promote good oral health. They work by scraping off plaque and tartar through chewing, and can sometimes include ingredients or enzymes that fight bacteria itself.

Do dog dental chews work?

Yes, but only as a supplement to regular brushing and veterinary dental cleanings. VOHC approved chews are proven to reduce plaque or tartar by a minimum of 15% for friction based options, and 20% for enzymatic options.

Conclusion

Taking care of your dog’s teeth doesn’t have to be difficult. Through a routine of brushing, veterinary cleanings, and daily dental chews, you’ll keep your dog (and their mouth) happy and healthy.

References

Want to learn more about canine dental health? These resources are great places to start.

Dog Dental Health

British Columbia SPCA: https://spca.bc.ca/news/dog-dental-health/

AVMA: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/pet-dental-care

Animal Humane Society: https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/news/five-ways-clean-your-pets-teeth

Central California SPCA: https://www.ccspca.com/blog-spca/education/how-to-brush-dogs-teeth/

ASPCA: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-grooming-tips

Periodontal Disease

Veterinary Oral Health Council: http://www.vohc.org/veterinary_periodontal_disease.html

VCA Hospitals: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-dogs

Dog Dental Chews

Felton Veterinary Hospital: https://www.feltonveterinaryhospital.com/blog/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-not-all-dental-chews-are-created-equal/

Animal Hospital of North Asheville: https://www.ahna.net/site/blog-asheville-vet/2020/03/30/safe-chews-dogs

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