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Whether you’re trying to prevent stinky dog breath, to find healthy treat options for your pet, keep your dog’s teeth clean, or supplement your canine’s dental care, here’s what you need to know before buying dental treats for your dog.

Dog Dental Health 101

Keeping your dog’s teeth healthy is an important part of maintaining his overall health, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Brushing your dog’s teeth is “the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for dental cleanings,” says the AVMA. “Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible, and brushing several times a week can be effective.” 

Be sure to use a toothbrush and toothpaste made for dogs, not your toothpaste. Wiping the outside of the teeth with dog dental wipes at least every 2-3 days can also remove plaque. 

As part of your pet’s routine care, your vet should check your dog’s teeth and gums at least once a year to help prevent tooth and gum pain. The AVMA recommends taking your dog to the vet sooner if they’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Extra teeth
  • Discolored, tartar-covered teeth
  • Any unusual chewing or drooling
  • Pain, bleeding, or swelling around the mouth
Young beagle chewing on a dog dental treat
©Christian Buch - stock.adobe.com

How Dental Treats Can Help Your Dog’s Teeth

Some dogs have a difficult time accepting tooth brushing. Dog dental treats may be more palatable (and acceptable) to your pet than a regular old toothbrush and toothpaste or tooth wipes. And they do help keep your dog’s mouth clean.

Treating your dog to something special is one way to show your love. That’s even better when the treats you offer are beneficial to your pet’s health. According to the American Animal Hospital Association 2019 Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, there are certain dental treats that can, in fact, help with your pet’s oral health. These are dental treats that receive the approval of the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), which promotes dental products — including dental treats — for dogs and cats.

The VOHC, which is overseen by the American Veterinary Dental College, recognizes products that have met or exceeded the VOHC standards for plaque control and tartar control in dogs and cats. Use of products containing the VOHC Seal of Acceptance can, according to the organization, help reduce the severity of periodontal (dental) disease in pets.

Types of Dental Treats

There are two major categories of dental treats the VOHC has awarded with its seal. All of the examples below help minimize tartar.

Rawhide chew treats, including popular brands such as:

Edible treats, including popular brands such as:

Alternatives to Dental Treats 

If you’re looking for something other than treats, some dog food is specially formulated to help with dental health. In general, dry kibble, especially the larger size, is better for dogs’ teeth than canned food. The VOHC also offers its seal to dog food designed to help with plaque and tartar:

Treats to Avoid 

Hard treats, such as antlers or synthetic or natural bones, that could potentially damage your pet’s teeth should be avoided, according to the American Animal Hospital Association 2019 Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.

Related article: How to Wash Your Dog Without Water: Mess-Free Tips
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