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Published Sep. 23, 2021

The best dental chews for dogs keep your pup’s mouth healthy. As dogs chew on these specially designed treats, they actively scrape away plaque and tartar buildup, just like you do when you brush your teeth. Some of the best dental chews for dogs also have other beneficial elements built in, including vitamins and minerals that support healthy bodies in addition to healthy teeth. So whether you’re looking for an option for dogs of a specific size or with specific needs, let us walk you through what you should know to find the best dental chews for dogs in your life.

How we selected the best best dental chews for dogs

We care deeply about our dogs, because our dogs care deeply about us. With that in mind, we put extra care into creating a guide that will help you find only the best dental chews for dogs in your life. Working from the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s list of accepted products and reading volumes of reviews by experts and real-world users alike, we narrowed down our choices to top, trusted manufacturers. We then nosed our way through ingredient lists, size charts, and dental chew shapes to sniff out inferior treats and arrive only at the best dental chews for dogs.

Best dental chews for large dogs: Greenies Original Large Natural Dog Dental Chews

Greenies Original Large Natural Dog Dental Chews
Greenies

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Why it made the cut: While some dental chews break, Greenies are designed to bend, allowing big dogs with big bites to sink their teeth in for a more complete clean. 

Specs:

  • Weight: 36 ounces
  • Number of chews: 24
  • Primary ingredients: Wheat flour, glycerin, wheat gluten, gelatin, water, powdered cellulose lecithin
Pros:Cons:
  • VOHC accepted
  • Long ingredient list
  • Includes vitamins like D and B-12
  • Bendable texture helps keep teeth healthy 
  • A mouthful of ingredients goes into making Greenies dental treats, which have been manufactured in Kansas City since 1996. But all those ingredients help create some of the best dental chews for large dogs. (If your large dog has allergies or other sensitivities, consider the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Bones, which are some of the best grain-free dental chews for dogs.) Ingredients in the Greenies include vitamin D, which can stave off everything from fatigue to cancer, and vitamin B-12, which can stimulate nerve function and boost your dog’s metabolism. And it all adds up to an easily digestible, uniquely flexible texture that benefits your big dog’s teeth and gums (Greenies dental treats are on the VOHC’s good list, and they make the good list for most reviewers, as well).   

    Best dental chews for small dogs: OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews

    OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews OraVet

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    Why it made the cut: Each individually wrapped OraVet chew releases delmopinol HCL, which coats your dog’s mouth to guard against plaque and bad breath.

    Specs:

    • Weight: 21.2 ounces
    • Number of chews: 30 (individually wrapped) 
    • Primary ingredients: Pork protein, wheat, soy
    Pros:Cons:
  • VOHC accepted
  • Expensive
  • Delmopinol HCL in every treat
  • Dissolvable for easy digestion
  • With these OraVet chews, dogs can basically brush their own teeth. They are designed with a small trough down the center that helps to dislodge plaque as your dog’s teeth rub against it. The VOHC-accepted chews also include delmopinol, which creates a barrier to stop bacteria that causes bad breath, tartar, and plaque buildup. These are the best dental chews for small dogs and dissolve easily. This also means they must be used as directed by your veterinarian––giving only a portion of a treat at a time can result in choking. When used correctly, however, OraVet claims these are veterinarians’ top choice for their own dogs, and the public is keen on them as well. 

    Best dental chews for senior dogs: Cosequin Soft Chews

    Cosequin Soft Chews Nutramax Laboratories

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    Why it made the cut: Beta glucans let these chews work as a prebiotic, helping to keep your aging dog’s immune system and gut in good health. 

    Specs:

    • Weight: 10.05 ounces
    • Number of chews: 60
    • Primary ingredients: Glucosamine hydrochloride, methylsulfonylmethane, sodium chondroitin sulfate, yeast extract, Omega-3s
    Pros:Cons:
  • Promote joint health
  • Costly
  • Boost immune system and digestion
  • Appropriate for dogs of all sizes
  • You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you sure can help them do the tricks they already love. With ingredients to support joint and digestive health, as well as beta glucans to boost your dog’s immune system, these are some of the best dental chews for senior dogs. It’s important to note, however, that while the recommended dosage for dogs under 30 pounds is one chew every other day, dogs weighing more than 60 pounds can have up to two a day, meaning the $25-per-bag treats may end up costing you $50 a month.  

    Best dental chews for dogs with allergies: Nature Gnaws Bully Sticks

    Nature Gnaws Bully Sticks

    Nature Gnaws Bully Sticks Nature Gnaws

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    Why it made the cut: These are tasty single-ingredient chews your dog will want to stick with—cleaning their teeth and keeping them from nosing around for a pair of shoes to chew—just don’t stick your nose too close! 

    Specs:

    • Weight: 8 ounces
    • Number of chews: 9-12 sticks
    • Primary ingredients: 100-percent beef
    Pros:Cons:
  • All natural
  • Smelly
  • Long-lasting
  • Dogs love the taste
  • Let’s just get it out there: the “muscle” that many manufacturers say makes up a bully stick is a dried bull pizzle, aka penis. But there are probably grosser things your dog could—already has?—chewed. Plus, if your pup is prone to itches, single-ingredient treats are some of the best dental chews for dogs with allergies. And with these sticks, you know what you are getting. Nature Gnaws sticks are sourced directly from beef producers in South America, Europe, and the U.S., and the meat is cleaned and slow-roasted for 72 hours. Chewing helps get rid of plaque and tartar, while keeping your dog occupied. Fresh breath, though, is debatable (you’ll understand the first time you open a bag).  

    Best dental chews on a budget: Pedigree Dentastix Fresh Treats

    Pedigree Dentastix Fresh Treats Pedigree

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    Why it made the cut: The shape is the X factor—a cross-section that is designed to scrape plaque and give multiple points of contact. Plus, a single bag with more than 50 treats costs less than ten bucks. 

    Specs:

    • Weight: 12.66 ounces
    • Number of chews: 51
    • Primary ingredients: Rice flour, wheat starch, glycerin, gelatin, gum arabic, calcium carbonate, natural poultry flavor, powdered cellulose, sodium tripolyphosphate, iodized salt, potassium chloride.
    Pros:Cons:
  • Great price
  • Lots of ingredients
  • Texture and shape scrapes plaque
  • High in calories
  • Mint flavor for fresh breath
  • Between food, grooming, and toys, caring for a dog can be really expensive. So it’s important to find deals when you can. If you have an otherwise healthy pup and are simply looking for one of the best dental chews for dogs that will scrape away plaque and tartar and prevent bad breath, Pedigree’s Dentastix are a great choice. They have a lot of ingredients to be sure—though that list includes vitamins like A and B and other healthy supplements—but they also have a unique “X” shape and rough texture designed to clean Rover’s chompers. Plus the mint flavor should keep Fido’s breath fresh.  

    Things to consider before buying the best dental chews for dogs

    Like us, dogs are what they eat so you should consider what part dental chews play in your dog’s diet. The dog chews can be made in a variety of ways and with a variety of ingredients (there are even CBD dog treats to ease anxiety), so here are things to keep in mind as you make your selection(s). 

    What’s it made of?

    Dogs should care for their teeth almost as regularly as we care for ours, which means dental chews may be consumed once or twice a day. With that in mind, some of the best dental chews for dogs are made with a mouthful of chemical compounds and vitamins designed to offer healthy benefits. Others contain nothing more than dried meat. If you prefer food with natural ingredients, or you are looking for the best dental chews for picky dogs or for a dog with allergies, you should look for dental chews like bully sticks that keep it simple. But if you’re hoping to pack a lot of vitamins and other healthy substances––and aren’t alarmed if you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce some of the ingredients––dental chews made with a lot of stuff may do just the trick for your old dog. Such complex treats also tend to be cheaper, but not always.

    Are the chews VOHC accepted?

    The Veterinary Oral Health Council maintains a list of accepted products, detailing the dental issues that various chews are capable of mitigating. Of course, you should always consult your veterinarian before introducing anything into your best friend’s diet, but referring to the VOHC list is a great place to start on your search for the best dental chews for dogs. 

    Have you found the right chew size?

    The best dental chews for dogs are made in different shapes and sizes. Chews are designed with textures and shapes that are meant to help scrape plaque and tartar as your dog chews, but different manufacturers accomplish this through different techniques. For instance, some treats have an X-shaped design with a rough texture that’s meant to simultaneously reach multiple spots on Spot’s teeth, while other chews are softer and more flexible, helping them last longer to ensure a deeper clean. 

    It’s also important to note that some chews are intended to be one-fits-all, while others are made in larger and smaller sizes for larger and smaller breeds because giving dogs chews that don’t correspond to their size can be a choking hazard.  

    FAQs

    Q: How often should dogs use dental chews?

    Dogs should use dental chews as often as your veterinarian approves. But many manufacturers say their chews are designed to be consumed once or twice a day, with some variation from there based on breed size and chew type. 

    Q: Do dental chews really work?

    Yes, dental chews really work to scrape away plaque and tartar, just like brushing teeth helps to keep your mouth clean. Some treats even contain materials that help prevent the formation of harmful bacteria in a dog’s mouth. For more information, consult your veterinarian and consider the VOHC’s list of accepted products.

    Q: What are the safest dog chews?

    The safest dog chews are the ones approved by your dog’s veterinarian. Still, there are things to consider regarding the safety of dental chews. Some chews splinter or break into smaller bits while other treats dissolve. All of this can create choking hazards. Ultimately, there is no chew that is 100-percent safe against choking, so it’s important to always monitor dogs while they are consuming anything. Other safety concerns have to do with ingredients. If you have a dog with allergies or other sensitivities, look for single-ingredient chews or possibly just the best grain-free dental chews for dogs, such as Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Bones.  

    Final Thoughts

    The best dental chews for dogs can keep your best friend’s mouth and body healthy, and even freshen their breath. Our list should help guide your search, but you should always consult your veterinarian before adding anything into your dog’s diet.

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