When it comes to our pet’s dental health, one of the easiest things to do is to give dental chews, treats, and bones. It’s fun to treat our pets with something they love, and it’s common knowledge that these help to keep our pet’s teeth clean…or do they? Is this assumption an urban legend or fact?

The expert team at Union Lake Pet Services has the inside scoop on dental chews and treats. We found that not all are created equal. What’s more, some of them can actually cause harm to your pet.

Intro to At Home Dental Care

First things first. There are many, many dental products on the market today. However, your first and best defense against bad breath, swollen gums, plaque, and periodontal disease is a professional dental exam and cleaning coupled with daily toothbrushing. Assuming you’re doing those things, dental chews and treats can be a good addition to your home dental care program. They shouldn’t replace brushing and regular cleanings, though!

Dental Chews and Treats

So, let’s get to the nitty gritty! We mentioned that not all dental chews and treats are created equal. Luckily, there’s an organization that gives its seal of approval to some of the treats and chews available today. Formed by veterinary dental specialists, the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) reviews and approves products that effectively prevent plaque and tartar. Make sure the dental chew or treat that you offer your pet has their seal of approval.

A word of caution – although veterinary dentists find VOHC-approved products safe and effective, the VOHC does not test specifically for safety. So always be vigilant, and don’t leave your pet unattended with any chew or treat.

Dental Chews and Treats to Avoid

Some advertised dental health treats are downright unsafe or are full of fat and unwholesome ingredients that are bad for your pet. Below is our list of what to avoid (or at least be cautious with):

  • Rawhide bones — These can be swallowed whole by some dogs, putting them at risk for gastrointestinal obstruction and possible emergency surgery. They’re also quite high in calories, so watch your pet carefully. Make sure they actually chew them, and limit calories in other places if you give one.
  • Dried pig ears — These are quite high in fat content, which could lead to the development of pancreatitis.
  • Cooked bones — These are too hard and unyielding to offer any plaque prevention, and they could cause a tooth fracture or a gastrointestinal perforation or obstruction.

It’s generally accepted that chews and treats that are soft and allow the teeth to sink in are the most effective against periodontal disease. Avoid anything that’s too hard in order to avoid tooth fractures. Please give us a call if you have any questions. We’re here to help make sure your pet stays healthy and happy!