The 10 Best Dental Chews for Dogs (2020 Reviews)

Humans aren’t the only ones who need to manage their dental health. Just like us, dogs should receive regular care to keep up their oral hygiene. In addition to brushing and visiting the vet, using dental chews can help keep their mouth in top shape.

To help, we researched hundreds of products to find the 10 best dog dental chews and treats. Every product featured on our list is Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC®) approved.

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 alike. These chews are all-natural, and fight against tartar, plaque, and bad breath. They also come packed with a number of vitamins and minerals.

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 off tartar and plaque on your dog’s teeth, while also freshening breath. They come in multiple sizes, and are paired with a prebiotic to support 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 dental health in two ways. Grooved pockets on these chews help scrape away plaque and tartar, while added sea kelp and algae remove bacteria through natural enzymes.

It’s worth nothing that these chews are for dogs older than 6 months, and those 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 spearmint for minty 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 a daily oral health. These treats break away plaque and tartar as your dog chews, while also forming a barrier against bacteria and bad breath.

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 longer 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.

You’ll need a quick sign-off from your vet to buy these chews. You can provide your vet’s info at checkout and Chewy (the seller) will follow up with them.

Key Features:

  • Rawhide dog dental chews
  • The only rawhide to be VOHC approved for dental effectiveness
  • May require cutting up chews for smaller dogs
  • 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
  • Made in sizes suitable for all dog breeds

8. Purina DentaLife Small & Medium Adult Dog Treats

purina dentalife

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Purina DentaLife are chicken flavored dental chews complete with eight ridges that clean your dog’s teeth. In trials, DentaLife chews 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 multiple ingredients 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 traditional treat. If you’re looking for a tougher option other than rawhide, these are for you.

Key Features:

  • Dog dental chew with a bacon flavor
  • Contains sodium tripolyphosphate to fight against tartar and a separate antimicrobial ingredient that prevents plaque formation
  • Prevent plaque and tartar buildup by more than 50%
  • Available for small dogs and large dogs
  • VOHC approved and veterinarian recommended

Dog Dental Chews Buying Guide

This guide will give you an overview of dog dental health, from common issues to daily preventative dental care. Here we go!

Canine Dental Issues to Watch For

Dental issues and diseases are highly common among dogs. In fact, about 80 percent of dogs experience some form of dental disease by the time they are three. All dog owners should be aware of these in order to properly support them.

To prevent problems from escalating, you should regularly examine your dog’s teeth and gums for warning signs. Here’s a list of signs 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, is the most common of all canine dental issues. This refers to the infection and inflammation of the tissue around the tooth — the periodontium. Early detection is important as periodontal disease only gets worse over time.

Common 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

Some of the above issues may sound scary, but not to worry! Through proper oral care, you can keep your dog’s teeth in top shape.

Regular Tooth Brushing

Just like humans, regular tooth brushing is the easiest way to keep your dog’s teeth healthy. 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 using 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 toothbrushing session. 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 then gently move the brush around their mouth

Once your dog is willing to let you brush their teeth, apply the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle using a gentle circular motion. 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 your dog’s mouth after brushing!

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

You should repeat this process every day or two to prevent plaque and tartar growth. Veterinarians recommend brushing your dog’s teeth at least three times per week to maintain 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 deeper cleanings 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 in this guide will keep your dog’s teeth in good 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 oral issues.
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

Using dental chews are a great way to supplement your dog’s regular dental 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; scrape off and slow the formation of plaque and tartar, while also strengthening teeth. As dogs have a natural desire to chew and play, adding dental chews is a great way to maintain oral health while also keeping them happily occupied!

dog chewing on treat

Considerations When Buying Dog Dental Chews

Size of Chew

Dental chews come in a number of sizes to match breeds. Large dogs should have chews big enough to not present a choking hazard. Small dogs should have a size that’s not too difficult to bite on.

Ingredients & Effectiveness

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

The Veterinary Oral Health Council maintains a full list of approved dental treats recommended by veterinary experts. In order to receive the VOHC approved 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 options above are VOHC approved.

Hard vs. Soft

If you choose to buy a dental toy rather than a treat, you should inspect its material. Dental chew toys should be hard enough to scrape against plaque, while 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 hard plastic, when choosing a chew toy.

Frequency of Use

Your dog should use a dental chew about once a day. Read the instructions on your product packaging for the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dog dental chews safe?

Yes, dog dental chews are safe to use. It’s important to only purchase Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved chews, and follow the directions on the packaging.

What are dog dental treats?

Dog dental treats are chews given to your dog once a day to promote oral health. They work by scraping off plaque and tartar through chewing. Some options may include other ingredients that fight the bacteria itself.

Do dog dental chews work?

Yes, dog dental chews work well as a supplement to regular brushing and vet visits. 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 tooth brushing, veterinary cleanings, and daily dental chews, you’ll put your dog in a position for optimal oral health.

References

Dog Dental Health
British Columbia SPCA: https://spca.bc.ca/news/dog-dental-health/
Humane Society of Ventura County: https://www.hsvc.org/february_is_pet_dental_health_month
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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