Common knowledge says that dogs need to chew on something in order to remove plaque and tartar from their teeth.

It makes sense, right?

Much of the same logic is used in human dental care. Brush, scrape, remove. However, an article published by VetStreet named six common dental chew products owners should avoid due to their threat of potential tooth fractures, gastrointestinal obstruction and gastroenteritis (among other issues).

Some of the top “no-no” chews are:

  • Raw hides
  • Dried pig ears
  • Antlers
  • Cooked bones
  • Rocks
  • Cow hooves

Many of these products contain chemicals, artificial colors, preservatives, detergents, and other additives that can be unhealthy and potentially dangerous.

And, let’s admit it… they’re just plain messy and gross.

Thus, the “dental chew” was born as an alternative dental care approach for dogs. Dental chews are products that can be effective at removing some plaque and tartar, however, veterinarians across the country stress the fact that effective is relative when it comes to many dental chews and other tartar control products.  Dr. John Huff, Board Certified Veterinary Dentist states, “‘Effective’ is relative. If brushing is a hundred [percent], treats and chews are probably a one.”  He adds, “The positives on the VOHC-approved dental products are [that] they are better than nothing.”(1)

There’s also the question of safety.

Dental chews are a readily available and commonly used class of products, although many owners and veterinarians question their safety, both the sources and ingredients.

Most dogs consume dental chews without issue but some have suffered health problems (and even death) due to these teeth-cleaning treats because of potential toxins and contaminants in the products. So it’s important to use caution when buying “dental care” products for your pup.

Dr. Huff, also states, “Though I have found all the Veterinary Oral Health Council-approved products to be safe and effective, the VOHC does not test for safety.”(1) 

To help limit some of these types of risks:

  • Research the ingredients in the product
  • How products are made
  • Where products are manufactured
  • Also, be sure to select the proper size chew for your pup and try to ensure they chew the treat thoroughly before they swallow. In other words, don’t be this guy…

There are a number of safe options for dog dental care like wipes, sprays, gels, probiotics and other molecular approaches. The associated chart gives a high-level overview of common dental care approaches (shameless product plug). As you’ll see, there are other safe ways of taking care of your pup’s mouth, just make sure you do your research to ensure the ingredients in those products are nontoxic.

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Source: VetStreet article