Photo of dental chew | Vanillapup

Dental Chews: Why We Don't Recommend It

Dental chews are marketed as a great way to improve your dog's dental health. But do they really help to keep teeth clean?

Dental chews are super popular amongst dog owners looking for an easy way to improve their dog's dental health. It is also one of the best-selling treats in the market!

The idea they offer is indeed tempting - no toothbrushing struggle and a happy pup with a happy belly.

But do they really help to keep teeth clean? My concerns started the moment I read the ingredients lists.

Ingredients of 3 different dental chews

#1 Potato Starch, Glycerin, Powdered Cellulose, Lecithin, Dried Yeast, Malt Extract, Sweet Lupine Meal, Alfalfa Extract, Paprika Extract

#2 Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Vegetable Glycerin, Pea Powder, Water, Natural Flavor, Sunflower Seed Lecithin, Calcium Carbonate, Citric Acid, Zinc Propionate, Rosemary Oil, Peppermint Oil

#3 Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Glycerin, Gelatin, Oat Fiber, Water, Lecithin, Natural Poultry Flavor, 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), Dried Apple Pomace, 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, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Folic Acid), Turmeric Color.

Would a product packed with starch and sugars, the same ingredients that cause obesity and tooth decay, really help to keep teeth clean? I really doubt so.

How dental chews are supposed to work

The hardness and nubs and ridges of chews are supposed to help scrape away plaque and tartar. While that sounds similar to what a toothbrush does, dental chews can't reach below the gum line and hard-to-reach areas that a good toothbrush can. This is especially so for smaller dog breeds and dogs with crowded or misaligned teeth.

Also, what about the bits that would be stuck on and in between teeth? Remember, most dental chews contain sugar and starch - tooth decay alert! If you choose to give your dog dental chews, you should still brush their teeth to get rid of food bits.

Toothbrushing is still the gold standard for oral care

At the end of the day, nothing beats a good brush no matter how much of a battle it may be. Take it slow to get your dog used to toothbrushing and start as early as possible.

  • Brush twice daily

  • Send your dog for annual dental checks

  • Use TEEF! powder added into water to promote good bacteria in the mouth for good breath and gum health

  • Always have fresh water available for your dog to drink throughout the day

  • If dental scaling is necessary, find a trusted vet to do it - anaesthesia-free scaling can be dangerous. Read about Latte's dental scaling experience here.

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