Skip to content

Healthy Dogs

Font Size

Dog Dental Treats

From chewies to dental bones to dental diets, what makes the biggest difference for your dog’s teeth, gums, and breath? Should you even be concerned about your dog’s oral health? 

Yes. Dogs can suffer from gum (periodontal) disease just like people, and it’s not something to ignore. Dental problems in dogs can lead to loss of appetite and broken or lost teeth, and it may even damage other organs if bacteria get into the bloodstream through diseased gums. 

Recommended Related to Dogs

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

One of the most common complaints of pet parents is that their dogs are disruptive or destructive when left alone. Their dogs might urinate, defecate, bark, howl, chew, dig or try to escape. Although these problems often indicate that a dog needs to be taught polite house manners, they can also be symptoms of distress. When a dog’s problems are accompanied by other distress behaviors, such as drooling and showing anxiety when his pet parents prepare to leave the house, they aren’t evidence that...

Read the Separation Anxiety in Dogs article > >

Professional cleanings and brushing your dog's teeth are great ways to maintain oral health. Dog dental treats or special diets also may provide some oral benefits, but using them comes with precautions.


The Benefits of Dog Dental Treats

Just as with humans, dogs can suffer from oral problems like:

  • Bad breath
  • Build-up of saliva, bacteria, and food on teeth (plaque)
  • A hard yellow or brown residue on teeth (tartar)
  • Swollen, bleeding, or irritated gums
  • Pain

Improving teeth and gum health. Dogs that chew actively have less plaque build-up. And some types of dog dental treats and diets can reduce plaque by nearly 70%. How do they do this? Simply the mechanical action of chewing can make a difference. In one study, increasing the diameter of kibble by 50% led to a 42% reduction in tartar. In the same study, coating the products with a substance called polyphosphate further reduced tartar by 55%. It prevents plaque from turning into tartar by isolating calcium on teeth.

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is an organization that evaluates pet products to see if they meet standards for reducing plaque or tartar. Approved foods, treats, and chews must reduce plaque or tartar by at least 10% to achieve the VOHC seal of approval. If a chemical anti-plaque agent is used, it needs to reduce plaque or tartar by at least 20%. Go to to see which products have received the VOHC seal of approval. 

Reducing bad breath in dogs. It is not uncommon for a dog’s breath to be slightly unpleasant. This is often the result of bacteria build-up in the mouth and can be a sign that your dog needs better dental or gum care. However, it’s not a bad idea to check with your vet to make sure bad breath is not a sign of an underlying medical problem.

In addition to professional cleaning and regular tooth brushing, certain dog treats are also formulated to help improve breath. Hard chew toys may also help. See what your vet recommends.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

bulldog in party hat
Breeds with longevity
Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
dog with duck in mouth
Which are considered smartest?
boxer dog
What are their health issues?
Pit bull looking up
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Dog scratching behind ear
dog catching frisbee
Dog Breed RMQ
Lady owner feeding dog
bulldog in party hat

Special Sections