What is a dental chew?

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Many laugh at the television commercial that talks about “doggie dentures,” but canine dental hygiene is no laughing matter. And there are numerous jokes about doggie bad breath, but that’s no joke either, since it usually points to some dental or physical problem.

While it’s as important as diet, exercise or regular grooming, many people minimize the importance of dental treatment for dogs. A problem that’s minor today can become a more severe—and expensive—one tomorrow, such as an abscessed, lost or broken tooth. Just like humans, canine dental disease can often spread to other body systems, causing loss of appetite and damaged organs, such as the heart and kidneys.

Professional cleanings and brushing your dog’s teeth are good ways to maintain oral health—but there are special treats and diets that may also lend a hand, because sometimes just the act of extra chewing can help.

Make sure all dental treats, chews and diets are approved by The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), 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 percent.

Some include:

• Rawhide chews: These are made from cows or horses and can reduce plaque and tarter. They come in different sizes.
• Greenies
• Dog Biscuits
• Chew toys, such as Kongs or Plaque Attackers.
Dog dental diets. Some dog food formulations help reduce plaque and tartar. They do this in a variety of ways. Some are made into larger kibble or a texture that resists crumbling, which creates a scrubbing action. Others have a special coating that helps prevent bacteria, reduce plaque, or discourage the formation of tartar. Ask your vet about these and special dental diets available only through the veterinary market.

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