Rare is the dog who does not enjoy chewing on something, whether it’s a stick, toy, or random item found on your daily walks. However, everything that goes into your pooch’s mouth may not be safe for chewing. In fact, many items dogs discover on their own—and some sold in stores—can seriously threaten your furry pal’s oral health. From fractured teeth and pierced gums, to intestinal obstructions and stomach upset, some commercially produced chews can do more harm than good when it comes to your pet’s dental care. Choose carefully when picking out your pet’s dental chew products by following these recommendations.

4 approved dental chews for pets

Many chews can help remove plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth, while providing the additional benefits of anxiety and boredom relief, yet not all are safe for your furry pal. Check out the following four types of dental chews that are safe for your pet. 

#1: Chews approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is the only organization that evaluates the data produced by dental-product testing to verify that the product can prevent plaque and tartar accumulation. While not a regulatory agency, their seal of approval is highly valued among dental-product manufacturers, as the VOHC seal on the label is proof that the product is effective in caring for your pet’s dental health, and regular use will reduce periodontal disease severity in pets. Get the most bang for your buck—and the healthiest smile from your pet—with the following VOHC-approved dental chews:  

While these chews are geared toward dogs and their chewing tendencies, dental products also are available that help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation in your feline friend. However, cats rarely chew on items like dogs, and many of their approved products are crunchy treats. 

#2: KONG pet toys

An excellent choice for any chewer, KONG toys come in a wide range of options for all sizes and strengths of pets. Whether your teacup Yorkie barely nibbles on her toys, or your giant Great Dane sets out to demolish his chews as soon as they’re unboxed, these sturdy rubber toys are ideal for all pets, including cats. You can leave your pet’s rubber KONG plain, and let your furry pal pounce and bounce it across the room, or you can stuff it with a tasty concoction, freezing it for longer-lasting enjoyment. No matter how your four-legged friend enjoys their KONG, you can rest assured these toys can hold up to most chewers. 

#3: Edible Nylabones for pets

Nylabones come in two forms—edible and inedible. The edible form does not last nearly as long as the inedible variety, but is much safer for dogs who chew apart and eat their toys. Although they may not last long, your dog can still receive dental, boredom-reducing, anxiety-alleviating, and mentally stimulating benefits from these chews. Since they are edible, keep a close eye on your pet to ensure they chew and ingest this treat appropriately and don’t try to eat chunks that are too large. 

#4: Goughnuts for pets

Made from 100% natural rubber, Goughnuts also come with a lifetime guarantee. If your power-chewing pooch manages to reach the red safety indicator inside a Goughnut chew toy, the manufacturer will replace your pup’s toy. Not only does your pet receive a sturdy new replacement, but you will know to remove the chew from your dog’s toy rotation, minimizing your furry pal’s risk for intestinal obstruction. No other toy on the market gives you a clear warning when your dog’s toy needs replaced for safe chewing.

5 chews you should never give your pet

Although your pooch may be a power chewer, capable of demolishing wire crates and boulders with a single chomp, chews that are too hard can seriously threaten their dental health. Despite the Animal Dental Clinic team’s skills with extracting or repairing fractured teeth, we’d much prefer that your pet never suffer such a painful situation. A good rule of thumb when choosing your pet’s dental chews—if it’s too tough to indent with your fingernail, it’s too tough for your dog’s teeth. The ideal chew should have some give, which the following five options do not, and you should not give them to your pet:

  • Bones and hooves — Bones and cow hooves pose a double threat to your dog because they can splinter and puncture the gastrointestinal tract, or fracture teeth. Bone-related issues include digestive tract blockages, choking, cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils, vomiting, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and death.
  • Deer antlers — Antlers are harder than bones or hooves, which makes them worse for your dog’s teeth. Although they are less likely to splinter than bones, sharp tips can break off and pierce your pet’s digestive tract. 
  • Sticks — Dogs and sticks commonly go together, but these sharp, splintery chew toys do your furry pal no good. Pieces can become lodged in your pet’s gums or gastrointestinal tract, creating potentially life-threatening punctures or blockages.
  • Bully sticks —Besides containing an impressive amount of calories per inch, bully sticks can also be loaded with bacteria that can harm you and your dog. Even worse, these tough bull or steer penises—yes, that’s what bully sticks are—can fracture your pooch’s teeth.
  • Tennis balls —Dogs love tennis balls, so it’s tough to refrain from a game of fetch with your pup. However, constant tennis-ball chewing can wear down the enamel on your dog’s teeth, since the ball’s felt is an abrasive substance. 

Follow these tips to ensure your furry pal is safe from intestinal obstructions caused by dental chews:

  • Choose the right-sized dental chew for your pet based on body weight.
  • Pick dental chews that match your pet’s chewing power.
  • Only give dental chews to pets when they can be supervised.
  • Throw away dental chews when they are too small to safely chew, or begin to break apart.

Are you wondering if your pet’s chews are safe for their teeth and digestive tract? Give us a call, and we will help you choose chews for your furry pal that will not fracture teeth, puncture gums, or cause an intestinal blockage.