8 Best Dog Dental Chews Tried-and-Tested by a Senior Doggo

Written by Denise

Denise and her adorable senior Akita, Haiku, set out to test the best dog dental chews to ensure your pooch’s dental health is second to none. Haiku was thrilled with some of the purchases, as you will see in the images and videos attached, and he promises some paws-on testing action below.

Our Top 3 Picks

Dental health is vital to our canine best friends overall well-being, yet it is a task that even the awesomest of pet parents neglect.  Food, saliva and bacteria in your dog’s mouth forms plaque.

You have “ruff”-ly 48-hours to remove plaque before it turns to tartar, that yellowish brown build-up that turns hard, smelly and ultimately causes infection, abscesses and gums to lift and recede.

Once this happens, the bacteria in your dog’s mouth can enter his bloodstream carrying that bacteria to the brain, heart valves, liver, kidneys, everywhere! By keeping your dog’s pearly whites clean, you are keeping his whole body healthier!

In our test box, 8 size-appropriate dental treats arrived for my best buddy, Haiku, to try including ones specified as age-appropriate (he is a senior) and ones from a varying price range.  As you read our comparison below, realize every dog is a unique individual with differing preferences and tolerances.

Viewing reviews done by other pet parents, I noticed vast differences in how dogs responded, but here is what my furry child and I report on chewability, digestibility, clean teeth, fresh breath, and more after enjoying these 8 best dog dental chews.

8 Best Dog Dental Chews for Your Canine Friend

8

Purina DentaLife Adult Large Dog Treats

PROS

  • Economical at less than $1 per chew
  • Dog potentially liked the taste

CONS

  • Ingredients: salts, by-products, and carcinogens
  • Consumed quickly

This is the only treat I bought that is on the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) website as an “Accepted Treat” – please read my conclusion.

Just shy of 5” X .75” in diameter, these chews have 8 ridges and air pockets, creating a porous, chewy texture which would seem to scrape debris. They have a slight foody smell to my nose, but nothing strong.

It took Haiku less than 45 seconds to consume a treat, but as I mention in the video below, the grooves may be enough to do the job. His teeth did look clean afterwards.

That said, the Purina DentaLife treats contain quite a few salts, preservatives, chicken by-product meal, and sodium tripolyphosphate, which did not make this dog mom happy.

Plus, according to the National Institute of Health and Dog Food Advisor, BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) in the diet has been found to consistently produce certain types of tumors in laboratory animals. Therefore, my boy will not consume any more of these dental chews ☹.

PRICE RANGE: LOW

OUR RATING:

7

Charlie’s Choice ProDent PLUS Dental Health Chews for Dogs

PROS

  • Nicely packaged in a tub
  • Cost effective

CONS

  • Smell was strong and unpleasant
  • Consumed very quickly
  • Concern about warning on packaging

On the label of this product, it’s mentioned that if your pet has a pre-existing medical condition or is currently taking any kind of medication, you should consult your veterinarian before giving them these chews.

There were no reviews of this product when I. first wrote this or other information to be found that could help me out. Formulated by a veterinarian, my hope is the company is just taking extreme caution, but I am concerned as to what might be in these dental chews that could be harmful under certain health conditions.

For example, in large quantities, anise seed can result in diarrhea and low heart rate. The next morning, my boy’s poo was a bit green and softer than usual, but he quickly recovered, and I’ve noticed no other side effects.

I found the odor to be unpleasant, but the treats came nicely packaged and whole. They gave my boy a crunch but were gone in 15 seconds. No visible difference to his teeth after consuming.

PRICE RANGE: LOW

OUR RATING:

6

Ark Naturals Brushless Toothpaste Dental Chews for Dogs

PROS

  • Senior specific
  • Pleasant scent; nice breath afterwards
  • Dog enjoyed chewing on them

CONS

  • Consumed too quickly to provide much cleaning
  • Many arrived broken into tiny pieces

Packaging claims this product fights plaque and tartar while freshening breath with cinnamon, clove, and spearmint. Chews appeared easily digestible due to their airy texture, although 1/3 of the package was broken upon arrival. In fairness, they were packed with 8 other treats (some much harder), so in a normal purchase situation, this may not happen.

The scent was pleasant enough thanks to the breath freshening ingredients, but I was concerned about the clove, thinking it was harmful to dogs. Upon further research, I learned that in small amounts, it is not!

Designed for senior dogs, these treats were not overly abrasive (sporting few grooves), so not too tough on older dogs’ teeth and gums. The scrubbing benefits come from the sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) in their composition.

Although quite crunchy, Haiku gobbled the 3” treat in 5 seconds, so my concern is it didn’t have much time to work its magic on his choppers, but his mouth had a hint of spearmint afterwards.

PRICE RANGE: MEDIUM

OUR RATING:

5

Barkworthies All-Natural Himalayan Yak Cheese Dog Chews

PROS

  • Noticeable difference in teeth after 10 mins
  • Dog enjoyed it; kept coming back for more
  • Wholesome ingredients

CONS

  • Hard for some dogs; may cause gums to bleed
  • Frustrating for dogs used to quickly consume treats
  • The price is a bit high (almost $5 each) but may last several days

close up of dog's teeth

Teeth cleaned to the gum line after only 10 minutes, and this is a 14-year-old dog!

This is a tough, dense, 6” long chew that will take most dogs hours, if not days, to consume. After the first 10 minutes of chewing, my boy only left some teeth mark impressions on it. Since he is not used to gnawing, I allowed him to work on these chews in 10-minute segments, so as not to cause soreness to his un-toughened gums.

Although enjoying it, Haiku did seem to take short breaks, and I felt his slight frustration in not being able to quickly consume it, like he is accustomed to with other treats. For dogs used to gnawing, you can’t do much better.

Even after a short 10-minute chew session, I could see a difference in Haiku’s teeth, cleaned to the gum line, and no particular aroma to his breath afterwards – good or bad.

This is the only chew we tried that is not sourced in the USA – however, it’s grain-free, lactose-free, preservative-free, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free, and contains only three ingredients: Yak & Cow Milk, Lime Juice, and Salt. To my human nose, it smells slightly like aged cheese, but not unpleasant or overwhelming.

PRICE RANGE: HIGH

OUR RATING:

4

BLUE Wilderness Wild Bones Grain Free Dental Chews

PROS

  • Oil of rosemary, DHA, taurine & vitamins
  • Dog enjoyed it

CONS

  • Consumed quickly
  • This is the second most costly treat, so it might burn a whole in your pocket

Measuring 4.5 X 1.75 inches, this is a hearty chew for my 75 lbs. pooch (the size is recommended for dogs 50 lbs. and up). Its smooth design caused me to wonder if it would massage plaque off my boy’s gums, but it packed a crunch that was abrasive.

Upon further research, I saw the smooth design soothes sore gums during teething, however, at 14-years-old, that is not a concern for my senior dog.

The bone-shaped chew was consumed in just under two minutes. Although I’m thrilled to have seen no by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy, overall, the ingredients don’t provide much, if any, nutritional value. Still, in all fairness, this is designed to clean the teeth and not supplement the diet.

From a dental chew stand point, the rosemary oil is a plus. In small amounts, this aromatic herb is safe for dogs, and packs both an antimicrobial and digestive punch.

While performing the “sniff test” after the chew was consumed, my boy’s breath was pleasant, emanating no essence of anything. Added benefits include DHA for cognitive development, taurine to promote heart health, and vitamins to support the immune system.

PRICE RANGE: HIGH

OUR RATING:

3

Natural Balance Dental Chews

PROS

  • Limited ingredients
  • Grooved design
  • The price is quite affordable

CONS

  • Consumed really quickly
  • Slight foody smell

Although this smaller, 2.75” X .75” chew had textural lines and grooves to scrub away debris, the gum massaging factor was lost on my canine. He polished the Natural Balance dental chew off in under 20 seconds, with no gnawing whatsoever!

I appreciate the limited ingredients, meaning no long list of things I couldn’t pronounce. Although more foody (due to the chicken and sweet potato formula), it’s not unpleasant to the human olfactory system, and my dog loved it.

Two chews per day are recommended for a dog my boy’s size.

PRICE RANGE: LOW

OUR RATING:

2

Zesty Paws Omega 3 Dental Sticks for Dogs

PROS

  • Noticeable improvement in teeth
  • Long grooved design lasted several minutes
  • Fresh smell and breath afterwards
  • Great ingredients
  • Good customer service

CONS

  • A bit costly, but you get what you pay for

dog teeth up close

Looking good after a Zesty Paws treat!

Long and grooved, this chew took Haiku minutes to break and chew into oblivion. Apparently delicious, it packed a crunch, and there is a lot I like about this chew: Omega 3s from hemp, salmon, and krill!

Being an Akita, a Northern breed, I always make sure my furry son has quality fish in his diet, and it was a plus that the company uses MSC-Certified Sustainable Krill, meaning they are looking out for our ecosystem.

Zesty Paws also contains bone broth, the new rage in great dog health. Peppermint oil gave it a fresh smell, which was imparted to my dog’s breath after consumption.

I was surprised to receive a personalized email from Zenwise Health (the parent company) after ordering with reminder instructions on how to integrate these chews into my dog’s diet and to pay attention to the “best by” date. Obviously they care about their customers! ☺

PRICE RANGE: MEDIUM

OUR RATING:

1

Merial Oravet Dental Hygiene Chew for Large Dogs

PROS

  • Took good amount of time to consume
  • Individually packaged for freshness
  • Ingredient prevents bacteria from attaching to teeth
  • Good safety measures on packaging
  • Breath & teeth appeared cleaner, no distinct aroma

CONS

  • If given daily, these treats add a serious chunk of money to your monthly budget

A bit harder to chew than most, this one took almost 2 minutes to consume, so it had plenty of time to perform a scrubbing action. The Oravet treats are individually wrapped for freshness (which I like) and have a pleasant aroma even to my human sniffer.

Two-toned, the center beige groove contains 7% delmophinol HCI (Hydrochloride), which I discovered prevents biofilm (aka bacteria) from attaching to the gingiva.

The packaging offered excellent cautions about monitoring your pup and choosing size-appropriate treats.

Haiku’s breath smelled non-descript afterwards, which I feel is a plus. Dogs really shouldn’t have minty breath, but obviously not stinky breath either. Chlorophyll, I believe, absorbs the odor without imparting any.

PRICE RANGE: MEDIUM

OUR RATING:

Conclusion

In conclusion, Haiku’s and my TOP THREE CHOICES for the best dog dental chews are, in alphabetical order:

After careful taste testing, all three of these showed visible results after only one use, so I’m hopeful they would benefit my dog’s oral care with long-term use. It’s important to know your dog and start slowly if you are introducing a harder chew into his diet and if he isn’t usually a gnawer – you don’t want bloody gums!

These 8 best dog dental chews varied in costs from $0.20 each to almost $5.00, but how long they last is also important to take into account. Some were devoured in 15-20 seconds, not really ample time to scrape debris from teeth, while a couple took several minutes, and one…several days.

Always observe your pet the entire time he is consuming a chew and be prepared to jump to the rescue should he require assistance with an obstruction. Knowing Pet First Aid & the doggie Heimlich-like maneuver can be a life-saver!

All of the chews consumed in this best dog dental chews review appeared to be well digested by my boy, taking into account his bodily habits over the next several days.

Advice

When trying new products, always keep a keen eye for changes in stool or stomach upsets. Many pets transition without issue, but some may take a while to adjust to some of the ingredients (i.e.: anise, chlorophyll) in these treats, and others may not tolerate them at all. Follow all directions and don’t overfeed.

Dental chews aren’t food per se, but they have a specific task of scraping away debris and preventing plaque from forming. So, although not completely nutrition-based, some of these have excellent ingredients and would be my choice for that reason, as well as the quick results they showed.

Remember though, dental care is for a lifetime, and by keeping your dog’s mouth clean and healthy, you just may increase his overall wellness as well.

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About the Author: Denise

DENISE FLECK is an award-winning author, animal care instructor and radio show host. She was named one of Pet Age Magazine’s “Women of Influence” for 2018, a “Most Inspiring Story” in 2017 by Voyage Atlanta Magazine and has been nominated for 6 Dog Writers Awards to be announced in early 2019.

4 Comments

  1. Lorry Izor

    Thanks for this great information. I’m about to have my dog’s teeth cleaned. With the cost of the blood work, and the procedure, using Barkworthies seem to be the best thing to stem the next round for my dog.

    Reply
    • Denise Fleck

      So doggone pleased you found the article helpful. Paws crossed for pearly whites for your pooch!

      Reply
  2. Pat McCauley

    What a thorough and informative review of dental chews! Thank you and Haiku for all of the helpful information. While my little senior only has six teeth left, I’m still tempted to try some of these to see if a chew would be a good supplement to her dental routine.

    Reply
    • Denise Fleck

      I’m so please you found the article informative Pat! Dental health is so important to overall health, no matter a dog’s age, so it’s wonderful to hear that you’re checking into products to supplements your senior’s dental routine!

      Reply

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