Are Dog Chew Sticks Really Effective For Gums & Teeth? Top 3 Reviewed

Chewing is a big part of what defines being a dog, and as a pet owner you need to come to terms with it. Whether it’s your puppy going through teething, or your adult mastiff exercising his jaws, expect your dog to chew, because it’s what keeps their jaw muscles strong, their teeth clean and their brains occupied.

Since it’s such an important part of your dog’s mental and physical health, it’s only right that you give him the safest and most suitable items to chew on. If you don’t do this, there’s every chance he’ll end up damaging your most valuable stuff and maybe in the process do themselves harm. 

No doubt most dog owners consider dog breath to be a fact of life when dealing with their pooches. However, what many pet guardians may not know is that halitosis is a symptom of a more deep-seated dental problem that could affect your pet’s longevity.

Just like us, our furry friends develop plaque and bacteria in their mouths over time. It only takes 36 hours for plaque to turn into tartar, the major reason for painful and inflamed gums. Sadly, most canines develop some kind of dental disease by the time they’re 3 years of age, something which can be avoided if the problem is treated as seriously as other dog ailments. More importantly, damaged teeth also predispose your dog to complications such as blood infection and damage to vital organs in the long term.

How To Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean

One way to keep your dog’s teeth clean is to brush them yourself or use the services of an expert. A more appealing alternative is to use dental treats and long-lasting chew items for this purpose. Dog chews have been proven to be highly beneficial for your dog’s oral health and are reported to reduce plaque by nearly 70%.

Apparently, the mechanical action of chewing can make the world of difference to your dog’s teeth. For example, a study published in the Journal of veterinary dentistry reports that increasing the diameter of kibble by half its size led to a 42% reduction in tartar, while the same study showed that coating the products with a polyphosphate decreased tartar further by 55%. The VOHC Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), an organization responsible for approving pet products, recommends that for treats and chews to be considered effective they must reduce plaque or tartar by at least 10%.

Which Dental Treats and Diets Can Improve a Dog’s Teeth?

The main types of dog dental treats and diets can be summed up as:

  1. Dental chews, bones, and biscuits. These include Greenies, Dog Biscuits, Bright Bites, Dental Hygiene Chews, and Vetradent Dog Chews all of which are approved by the VOHC.
  2. Rawhide chews, which are specially made from the hides of cows or horses to fight plaque and tartar. They come in varying sizes and shapes.
  3. Bully Sticks. These are dog treats made from a bull’s pizzle. Unlike raw hides, these are easier to digest. 
  4. Dog dental diets. These are dog food formulations designed to reduce plaque and tartar. Some come in the form larger kibble that has a scrubbing action on the teeth, while others have a special coating that helps keep plaque and tartar at bay.
  5. Dog chew toys. Unlike the more conventional treats, chew toys such as TufToys are made of rubber or nylon and are not edible. However, they are quite effective for power chewers that gobble up edible treats too quickly.

If your dog spends about half an hour daily chomping away at these products you should be able to see an improvement in the health of his teeth fairly quickly. However, be sure to supervise your pup when he has the treat to prevent accidents such as choking from happening. One way to do this is withdraw the treat once the size becomes small enough to pose a choking hazard.

Chews Are Great for Your Pet’s Oral Health, But They Do Come With Some Limitations

Dog chew toys

While chews make a good supplement for actual brushing of teeth they are by no means the provide a blanket solution for every dog’s oral health problem.

Smaller dogs for example, or dog breeds that have a stacked bite, tend to have more inaccessible areas in the mouth where food particles can hide. This means that irrespective of how long or hard he chews your dog will still get plaque buildup. In any case, chewing can only clean the surface of the teeth but won’t get beneath the gum lines the way toothbrush bristles are able to. 

Sometimes other factors that have nothing to do with what your dog eats can affect his oral health. Periodontal disease can also be caused by your dog’s age, breed, background and how his immune system responds to bacteria, meaning even the most ardent chewer can end up with dental problems.

So Do Dental Chews And Treats Actually Work?

A number of chew sticks and diets can work wonders for your dog’s dental care, especially those that have VOHC approval. However, nothing can take the place of proper tooth brushing and professional care when it comes to oral hygiene. For your dog’s pearly whites to remain in mint condition, dental chews and treats should be offered as a supplement rather than foregoing the other aspects of dental care.

Top 3 Dog Chew Sticks Reviewed

1. Greenies Dog Dental Chews Dog Treats - Regular Size (25-50 lb Dogs)

Greenies are original-flavor dental dog chews that are recommended by most vets as ideal for at-home oral care. They have a pleasant chewy texture that keeps off plaque and tartar.

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  1. Comes as a 36-count pack of Greenies Original Regular Size Dental Dog Treats weighing 36 oz.
  2. Greenies Dog Chews have a unique texture that fights plaque and tartar and keeps breath fresh while cleaning the teeth down to the gumline.
  3. Greenies Treats come highly recommended by veterinarians and are recognized by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
  4. Greenies Dog Treats are made from natural, highly soluble and nutritionally complete ingredients that are safe and easy to digest.

             What We Liked:

  1. Greenies are quite suitable for dogs that have sensitive stomachs and don’t cause upsets.
  2. They’re great for dogs that are intolerant to teeth brushing.

             What We Didn’t Like:

  1. If your dog’s a power chewer these are not ideal as they are easily gobbled up.

Amazon Rating
TufToys Rating: rating_stars-4

2. Supreme Bully Sticks by Best Bully Sticks - All Natural Dog Treats

These are all-natural and fully digestible chew sticks made from single ingredient protein-packed chew with not added hormones or chemicals.

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  1. Made from 100% All-Natural Beef with ingredients sourced from High-Quality Free-Range and Grass-Fed Beef.
  2. These bully sticks are highly durable and effective for scraping away tartar and plaque to promote Dental Health.
  3. Each bully stick comes packed with protein and other essential vitamins for a more complete and healthy diet.
  4. Made using only Natural Beef which makes these dog chews 100% digestible and safe for your dog’s consumption.
  5. Being free of any additives, hormones or unhealthy chemicals bully sticks are an excellent alternative to Rawhide.

             What We Liked:

  1. Unlike rawhides, these bully sticks are easily digested and eliminated safely for your hound.
  2. The 12" sticks are great for their consistently in thickness and have a relatively low odor.

             What We Didn’t Like:

  1. Unfortunately, bully sticks are not odor-free.
  2. They come in an array of sizes which is appreciated by some customers but not others.
  3. At $40 plus, they’re not exactly pocket-friendly.
Amazon Rating: rating_stars-4
TufToys Rating

3. Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Dental Chews

VeggieDent Dental Chews come highly recommended by veterinary professionals because they are vegetable-based and highly palatable making them ideal for sensitive pups and dogs who suffer from allergies.

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  1. They have a patented Z- shape for a better grasp and chewing action.
  2. Have a pleasant taste that makes them easier to administer to your dog.
  3. Made without any animal-based ingredients and good for your pet’s diet.
  4. Act as breath fresheners while reducing plaque and tartar formation all in one treat.
  5. Ideally given as one treat daily to your dog for effective plaque removal.

             What We Liked:

  1. Proved to be highly effective in cleaning out plaque in a short period of time.
  2. Are great for dogs that are more prone to stomach upsets.
  3. These chews are non-GMO.

             What We Didn’t Like:

  1. Unfortunately, these treats aren't grain-free so should be given sparingly if you want to manage your pet's weight.
  2. May be too large for very small dogs like Chihuahuas, although you can get around this by splitting them in a half.
  3. If left to dry they may be too hard for your dog.
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