How to Select Safe, Effective Teeth Cleaning Chews & Dental Chews for Your Dog

Having something safe to chew can fulfill multiple requirements for your dog…
  • Provides enjoyment
  • Exercises teeth gums and jaw
  • Helps remove plaque
  • Satisfies a dog’s natural need to chew
  • Provides an outlet to expend energy
  • Helps prevent boredom
  • And for puppies, helps sooth itchy gums during teething
There are many different types of chews that you can select from. Your dog may pick their own naturally available items to chew. My dog’s love to pick their own sticks to gnaw on while we are on out trail walks together…tree twigs actually contain some very good natural oral care properties - volatile oils that stimulate blood circulation and tannins that tighten and clean gum tissue.

You can choose from a wide assortment of chews available at most pet supply stores and on-line HOWEVER most contain species inappropriate ingredients and toxic additives. Make sure when you are selecting a product you understand the pros and cons of using each product and what to look for to identify good product from poor or down right dangerous product (ingredients that include toxins and carcinogens). The information below provides a guide to choosing quality product and the right product.

And one other thing to keep in mind,  you won't know the quality of the item, much like the meat used in dog kibble - unless the labelling states that the chew (whether bone, dental chew, etc.) is from an animal that was;
  • Antibiotic free
  • Steroid free
  • Not intensively farmed (factory farm- raised)
  • Not from a 4D animal(dead, diseased, disabled or dying prior to slaughter)
I point the above out primarily to make you aware of how many things your dog may ingest in the course of a typical day that may contribute to a toxic load. The more you are aware of, the greater opportunity you have to prioritize and make informed choices.

Raw Bones

Chewing on raw bones will definitely help to keep your dog’s teeth clean. Raw meaty bones are nature's toothbrush, and an essential component of a species appropriate diet.

My dogs eat raw meaty bones every day.
Fresh, raw chicken neck bones, chicken wing bones, turkey necks and other poultry bones are safe for dogs. Dogs can chew and swallow and digest these soft supple bones.

Learn how to select appropriate raw meaty bones for your puppy and adult dog, go to this article.  

Not all raw bones are good for your dog. 

Examples of Bones you Should Not Give to Your Dog

Hip and femur bones of large animals such as cattle and bison are great for your dog to chew on, but beware the cautions noted below.

Marrow bones can lead to GI upset and acute pancreatitis due to the rich marrow found in large animal bones. As well, marrow bones are load-bearing bones, meaning the bone is very dense, not supple. This type of bone can cause tooth fractures and other oral cavity injury. I don't recommend marrow bones.

Chewing on any type of load bearing bone too intensely can cause tooth fracture.
Bone splinters from load bearing bones can rip a dog’s stomach and/or intestines causing serious and sometimes lethal damage if swallowed - if you see that your dog is chipping and fragmenting the bone take the bone away, always make sure you pick up and discard the fragment. 
Don't give your dog cooked bones as cooking increases the fragility of the bone increasing risk of splinters and fractures.
For more information on what to avoid, which raw bones are best for your dog, nutritional value and other important information go to this article.

Smoked, Natural Bones or Natural Chews 

I do not recommend smoked, natural bones or natural chews for dogs to chew on. It's important to note: 
  • Chewing on these types of bones can cause tooth fractures;
  • Bone splinters can rip a dog’s stomach and/or intestines causing serious and sometimes lethal damage if swallowed; 
  • Many smoked, natural bones or chews have food coloring, additives, and contain toxic ingredients that are harmful for your dog. 

Dental Chew Toys

Some dental chew toys are really well designed - long lasting, have a perfect consistency to exercise teeth, jaw and gums and remove plaque and do not contain toxins - Kong dental chew toys are one such example. Don’t purchase dental chew toys from China as the plastic may be full of toxins and may also fall apart and become a choking hazard.

Dental Chews

Dental chews are available at most pet supply stores, grocery stores etc. and on-line. Remember don’t fall for advertising. There are NO truly good dental chew products. I recommend you not give these to your dog. Choose a good raw meaty bone instead.

Holistic Support

Holistic Wellness Services and Holistic Behaviorist Services 

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✅  Maintain Health, and;
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  1. Have you heard of giving dogs green coconut shell to chew? The quality of raw hide chews at we get here in India is pretty suspect and my puppy doesn't respond to chew toys at all. He prefers the chair leg so I've given him an old rolling pin to chew on at the moment but I think he needs variety now that hes teething. Someone recommended coconut? Your thoughts?



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Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

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Karen Rosenfeld
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Practitioner – Dogs and Cats
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

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