The Best Bones for Cleaning a Dog's Teeth

The Best  Bones for Cleaning a Dog's Teeth

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

If you stumbled on this article, there are chances that your dog is getting older and you are wondering what bones would work best to help keep those dental problems at bay. Or, even better, you may own a young dog and want to prevent dental problems from occurring in the first place. If so, kudos to you, as preventing is much better than curing something that could have been avoided at least to a certain extent. Let's first take a look at what plaque is and how it affects our canine companions.

Dental plaque consists of a colorless or white film that develops on your dog's teeth. It's formed by bacteria naturally found in the dog's saliva which adhere to the surface of the dog's teeth. Initially, the film is soft and can easily come off by simply scraping the dog's tooth with a fingernail or the bristles of a toothbrush. With time though (if left on the teeth), the plaque will harden in the next two to three days and soon will calcify, becoming yellowish/brown tartar that becomes harder to remove. On top of that, once tartar is present, the tooth surface becomes rougher, causing more plaque and tartar to build up. Once enough tartar collects in the dog’s mouth, it potentially ends up under the gums causing problems. At this point, the hardened tartar can no longer be easily removed with the toothbrush and will likely require ultrasonic tools or a hand-held scaler to remove effectively, something that must be done by a vet under general anesthesia.

Are Plaque and Tartar a Big Deal?

If you think that the continuous accumulation of plaque and tartar is only a cosmetic issue; think again. As in humans, the presence of bacteria causes bad breath (bacteria stinks), and the accumulation of tartar causes irritation and inflammation to the gums around the dog's teeth (gingivitis, under the form of red, swollen gums), which in turn may lead to periodontal disease (the loss of the connective tissue fibers, ligaments and bone surrounding the teeth and responsible for supporting them) and eventually tooth loss due to gradual loss of supporting structure--see photo,something known as gingival recession. Worst of all, because gums are very vascular, it's possible for the bloodstream to transport micro-organisms to the dog's kidneys, liver and heart valves, causing severe systemic disease.

Periodontal disease is very common in dogs. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, dental issues affect more than 80% of dogs by age 3. On top of that, consider that the risks for periodontal disease in your dog increases 20 percent each year of his life, according to Banfield Applied Research and Knowledge. Toy and miniature breeds are particularly affected compared to larger dogs.

It's easy to underestimate the importance of regular brushing and providing the dog with the best bones for cleaning teeth because periodontal disease doesn't cause any significant pain and major visible changes at the early stages. Indeed, you're likely to take notice of tartar along the gumline (supragingival), but the real problem is tartar under the gumline (subgingival). Interestingly, a dog may have severe periodontal disease even without the visible yellowish/brown tartar on the crowns we are so used to seeing. This explains why dental cleanings without anesthesia don't cure periodontal disease, but only make teeth cosmetically more appealing. Removing tartar from the crowns won't cure periodontal disease or prevent tooth loss, explains Sharon Hoffman, veterinarian and Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College.

Prevention of dental disease in dogs is power. Knowing how to brush your dog's teeth along with providing the right bones can really make an impact on reducing those expensive dental cleanings.

Cleaning Dog Teeth With Dental Bones for Dogs

Choosing the Right Dental Bones for Your Dog

First and foremost, it's important to realize that if your dog already has periodontal disease, the ideal approach is to have the build-up of tartar removed. Since the dog's teeth will be also polished, this is a good time to get started on good dental practices (and that includes brushing your dog's teeth) since the new smoothness of the dog's teeth should be less likely to attract additional bacteria and plaque build-up. Whether you own a young dog and want to prevent major dental problems, an older dog who has had a recent dental cleaning, or a dog who has mild gingivitis that your vet believes can be reversed (the ideal time time to prevent dental issues is at the plaque stage), you may be on the lookout for what bones can be used to clean a dog's teeth.

Are you feeding raw? Feeding dogs raw, doesn't necessarily mean healthier teeth. Raw-fed dogs aren't immune from dental problems and several raw-fed dogs go through routine dental cleanings just as non-raw fed dogs. In the next paragraphs we will see why.

Avoid Bones That May Fracture Teeth

One of the biggest risks when giving the wrong types of bones to dogs are fractured teeth. The American Veterinary Dental College does not recommend giving cow hooves, dried natural bones or hard nylon products as these are very hard and can result in fractured teeth and damaged gums. These products do not mimic the effect of meat being pulled off a carcass as dogs would have done in the wild. Sharon Hoffman, a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College, further adds soup bones, knuckle bones and some pressed rawhide chews to the list of products to avoid to prevent fractured teeth.

Veterinarian Dr. Peter Dobias recommends to stay away from beef, buffalo or bison shank bones because they're harder than teeth and may cause them to crack. He explains that this is how a $2 marrow bone can end up costing thousands of dollars in dental treatment. He has an evolutionary explanation for this. In the wild, canines were most likely to hunt on birds, rabbits, rodents, goats, and possibly, the occasional deer. Messing around with a buffalo or cow was risky business. Antlers are also risky treats. There are many cases of dogs fracturing their teeth when they consume these. Finally, pork bones or rib bones are also somewhat on the risky side because they are more likely to splinter.

I know, I know, I can hear many people saying "but I fed my dogs these bones almost all their lives and they are fine!" That's sure a good point, fact is, we must consider what vets see in their practices, and fractured teeth are unfortunately not that rare. But not all vets always seem to concur on which bones should be avoided. It's likely that these differing opinions may vary based on what they see most in their practice. It never hurts to be conservative, and err on the side of caution.

Avoid Cooked and Smoked Bones

It may be tempting to feed Fido some leftover cooked bones to help clean teeth, but doing so is also a risky practice. Cooked bones tend to become brittle, and when your dog consumes them, they may splinter, potentially causing internal injuries explains veterinarian Karen Becker. On top of that, cooking strips the bones from a great amount of nutrients. Steamed or smoked bones, found out of the freezer in pet stores, are processed, causing them to become brittle as well.

Watch for Questionable Ingredients in Dental Bones

As an alternative to dental bones, manufacturers of pet products may try to create their own products, but it's important to look at labels and verify the safety of such products. Keep a watchful eye for artificial preservatives, animal byproducts, corn, soy, grains, unnecessary food coloring to make them of an appealing color, and other questionable ingredients. Also, look for the country of origin. Many dental bones and chews are made in China using questionable ingredients and several have been recalled due to safety issues.

Consider the Size of Your Dog

Often, raw bones are sold online or in stores without clear instructions. If you are lucky, the product may say which size is most suitable to your dog based on his weight, but unfortunately several leave you guessing. As a general rule of thumb, look for raw bones that are bigger than your dog's head suggests Karen Becker. This way, your dog won't be able to open his jaw wide enough to bite off chucks to swallow. Smaller bones such as small femur rings or kneecaps pose a danger to large breed dogs, because they may swallow them whole. So when it comes to bones, bigger is better to avoid damage to teeth, choking, or intestinal blockages.

Provide the Right Types of Bones

So we have seen so many types of bones that shouldn't be fed, you may thinking what is left? While cooked or smoked bones can be risky to dogs, consider that raw bones are a whole different story. Canines have been consuming bones for centuries so it would be silly to say that raw bones are harmful to them. There are essentially two types of raw bones that are beneficial for dogs. Karen Becker divides them in 2 categories.

  • Edible Bones: These are bones that don't contain marrow and are are overall soft and pliable. They are non-weight bearing bones that can be ground easily with a meat grinder. Chicken wings, chicken backs, chicken necks and turkey necks are some examples. These bones are designed to be chewed up and eaten by dogs. These bones are often fed as part of a raw diet as they provide the dog with important nutrients and minerals. Because these bones are quite soft, they do not provide a significant improvement in dental health, explains Dr. Dobias. In order to have some beneficial effects, your dog should be chewing for a good 30 minutes, according to Animal Planet and your dog must also chew the right type of bones to obtain some good dental benefits.This is why dogs fed raw don't necessarily always have the best teeth.
  • Recreational bones: These raw bones don't typically provide much nutrition and aren't meant to be swallowed, the dog just gnaws on them for mental stimulation and the purpose of cleaning teeth. When some cartilage and soft tissue meat is still attached, the action on the teeth is similar to getting brushed and flossed. This helps reduce tartar and helps reduce the risk for gum problems. In order to have nice teeth, as the dogs had in the wild, dogs fed raw must chew on both edible and recreational bones.

What recreational bones are recommended?

If your dog has a sensitive stomach, consider that marrow bones may be too rich ( the marrow is very high in fat) causing digestive problems, diarrhea and even pancreatitis in sensitive dogs. On top of that they are too hard. Veterinarian Peter Dobias instead recommends feeding raw bones of medium-sized animals, specifically, lamb or goat bones twice a week. These are hard, abrasive bones but they're not too thick, so they're perfect to keep the teeth polished and scraped without risking fractures. And if there's still some meat attached, even better. Chucks of raw meat are what promote effective cleaning of teeth and gums and the dog should be working on scraping them off for about 30 minutes.

What if you do not feel like feeding raw bones?

What if you do not feel like feeding raw bones? You must then look for edible bones made of healthy, non-toxic ingredients. This can be harder said than done as there are so many products nowadays on the market, and the majority of them contain harmful substances. It's important that the products are digestible, as swallowing non-digestible chunks may lead to an obstruction.

The ideal bones should be hard enough to help clean teeth, but not so hard as to crack them. Veterinarian Karen Becker recommends Mercola Healthy Pets Dog Dental Bones which are 100% natural, and contain no corn, soy, gluten or animal byproducts-- see her video. However, let's remember that it's the removal of meat from bones that helps maintain healthy teeth and that the chewing action must last quite a while to be effective.

A Note About Small Dogs

Certain breeds of small dogs are particularly prone to developing periodontal disease compared to others because their teeth don’t have normal alignment and tiny breeds may have a tooth crowding problem. Even though these dogs may chew with vigor, they won't be able to clean their teeth no matter how much they chew because of their conformation.

As seen, for your dog's safety it's important to know which bones to avoid so to prevent costly mishaps. Raw, meaty bones of medium-sized animals seem to be a good choice, but of course, it's always your job to find organic choices and to always supervise your dog when chewing. Also, consider that not all dogs are good candidates for chewing and eating bones, those are mostly dogs who gulp down things without chewing carefully!

In many cases, it is far safer training your dog to brush his teeth.

According to a study published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice, the level of efficacy of three common methods of plaque control were compared. This entailed, feeding a prescription dental diet (Hill's Prescription Diet t/d Canine), providing a dental chew (Pedigree DentaStix) and brushing a dog's teeth once daily using an enzymatic toothpaste.

According to the study results, daily tooth brushing remained "the most effective single method of reducing plaque accumulation and optimising dogs' oral health."

So start brushing your dog's teeth from an early age, make it fun and you soon will have a great routine that your dog looks forward to.

© 2014 Adrienne Farricelli

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 08, 2020:

KariJoKing, I must confess that in all these years I still feel that brushing your dog's teeth is the best option. Take a look here on how to train your dogs to have their teeth brushed:/dogs/How-to-brush-dog-teeth

KariJoKing on April 29, 2020:

I appreciate you listing things that may be harmful. Even human-grade ingredients like artificial colors and flavors are deemed acceptable by the FDA. The US has over 300 ingredients that are allowed here which are banned all over Europe and other countries. That having been said, it's so refreshing to have someone willing to warn people about chemicals and ingredients that may be harmful to our pet babies.

Can you head me in a good direction for the best bones/treats for healthy teeth for my twin 6-year-old Chiweenies? We can now afford to get their teeth cleaned, but haven't done it yet due to the "Stay Home Stay Safe" Order in our state.

I look forward to hearing from you and anyone else with suggestions.


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 10, 2020:

Melissa, I really appreciate your observations. There may not be any evidence, but several of those ingredients remain questionable, meaning their total safety hasn't been evaluated. I am not saying they are necessarily harmful, just "questionable" until proven otherwise.

You state "Commercial chew products that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council are what we should recommend," but have you ever by any chance seen their list? It has rawhide listed repeatedly on the list and several products that I know have bad reviews with some of them even seriously harming dogs! I know, the irony!

At this point, there are really no 100 percent safe bones for dogs. This is why I had to put some disclaimer statements at the end and why I use caution words like "may" or "seem" and why I use what veterinarians say as my references. At the end, you can take note how I mentioned that brushing teeth is ultimately the safest choice.

Yet, veterinarians and veterinary organizations like VOHC feel safe enough to make specific recommendations. I feel this will remain a subject of controversy until a totally safe bone is ever found-if it ever exists.

I thought I found one edible totally digestible safe bone once, only that later the company started cutting corners and produced it in China and dog owners started noticing diarrhea and vomiting in their dogs.

*Please note that my dog got sick from *raw hides* not raw bones. More and more vets lately suggest raw bones to dog owners (since they'll give them in any case due to strong raw food movement) as long as certain guidelines are followed.

Here is an article on Innovative Vet Care written by a vet on the subject. I thought you might find it interesting.

Melissa A Smith from New York on March 02, 2020:

Hi, there is no evidence that artificial preservatives, animal byproducts, corn, soy, grains, and food coloring are harmful to dogs. Most vets recommend giving no bones to dogs for a good reason. I've also seen no evidence that there are any raw bones that are beneficial to dogs. Even you, as I do, have a story about raw bones harming our dogs, so they shouldn't be recommended. Commercial chew products that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council are what we should recommend in addition to brushing and regular cleanings. I would advise not taking into account anything Dr. Becker says, and I can explain why at length.

Barbara on February 12, 2020:

All my dogs enjoy cabbagewhite centres and carrots raw is this ok

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 05, 2020:

Hi Elsa, so sorry to hear about your dog being impacted from eating bones. I have a bad story about using bones as well. When my Rottie needed a dental cleaning, I decided to offer smoked knuckle bones since many dog owners reported that they helped scrape tartar off the back teeth. After just a couple, my dog not only still needed the dental cleaning, but on top of that, a tooth during the cleaning fell off. The vet showed me the tooth with what looked like a piece of grass or string wrapped around it. At first, I thought nothing about it, only to later realize that the piece wrapped around the tooth was a piece of meat/ligament from the smoked bone which apparently got caught on the tooth and caused it to fall off.

My female when young would also vomit in the middle of the night bone fragments coming from raw hides. As annoying as this was, it helped her from being impacted, but for sure no more raw hides after that.

Elsa on February 05, 2020:

My 2 yr old labrador has just returned home from the Vet after several days of unwell behaviour, unable to defeacate , vomiting, not eating which is not known for a Labrador??

Required Xrays and enema under GA which showed impacted bowel from consuming bones.... and she is our 3rd Lab: never before an issue, but you just can't predict. It was an awful experience, she was so sick..... no more bones. its just not worth it.

vena on January 17, 2019:

my dog is on a lo fat diet he has hills prescription diet.i/low fat what treats or bones can i give him

MAry difronzo on April 09, 2018:

Very interesting

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 07, 2018:

Sam, thanks for sharing your experience with marrow bones, it will help many dog owners.

Sam Shepards from Europe on March 03, 2018:

Never give or rarely give your dog the big cooked marrow bones. We used to give our first shepherd those bones. He loved them, could munch on them for hours. After a couple of years 2 of his canines were filed flat.

Ellie from Montana, USA on February 09, 2018:

Great education...I think I'm going to drop the grain-free kibble and go to raw meat bones, some veggies fruits and a little yogurt. Wish I had access to "Roo tails" lol, but unfortunately here in Montana I would be very surprised to find such a creature! :)

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 31, 2015:

Thanks MarieLB, I am happy to hear it's turning helpful! Best wishes!

MarieLB from YAMBA NSW on March 27, 2015:

Strange how I get drawn again and again to the same articles. You have packed so much info here, that it is truly helpful to read again. Top job Alesadry.

MarieLB from YAMBA NSW on March 09, 2015:

Great article Alexadry. Full of nuggets of wisdom that are so useful to all of us doggie owners. Thanks

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 13, 2014:

What a good girl! Getting them used to it from a young age helps a lot. For my dogs the taste of toothpaste made them look forward to it, as soon as they see me with the tube they lay their heads on my lap.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on December 12, 2014:

My dog has never been a chewer, at least not past the puppy teething stage. She's one of those "gulpers" you mentioned who swallows everything whole. Therefore, I began brushing her teeth early. She doesn't mind my holding her mouth open while I brush all surfaces. When I tell her I'm ready to brush them, she sits up and waits like a good girl. Of course, she doesn't hold her mouth wide open. I have to do that part, too.

Voted Up++


Quick Reviews of Some of the Best Dental Chews for Dogs

Greenies Dental Treats

I was pleasantly surprised when I (well, our dog) tried Greenies for the first time.

With a blog like ours, we research, talk about, and test lots of different dog foods. After doing that, we’ve kind of learned to stay away from the super popular dog foods, and we really thought it was going to be the same with dental chews.

But man. These things were great!

The best thing by far is that they last forever. It honestly felt like our pup was chewing her one tiny treat for five solid minutes. It was astounding.

It was, like, chewier than a Milk Dud. And that’s saying something!

It also smells nice, and it’s approved by the VOHC.

Natural Balance Dental Chews

We tried the Natural Balance dental chews because we’re a pretty big fan of their food.

We really like that this chew includes some nice meat and potatoes flavors. Well, really, it contains actual meat and potatoes: duck meal and white potatoes to be exact.

They didn’t smell particularly good (to us humans), but our dog was very excited about them. We just didn’t notice any real change in her breath, but they’re not formulated to improve breath anyway.

What they did do is get our pooch chewing. They didn’t last as long as the Greenies, but they lasted a good, long time.

Blue Buffalo Dental Bones All Natural Dog Treats

This is another dental chew we tried based on what we know of their dog food, and we were pleasantly surprised here, too.

One of the things we really like about this particular chew is that it’s a little easier on the tummy than some of the others. The ingredients are, for the most part, natural and sensible. There’s no corn, wheat, soy, or animal byproducts.

It also includes a few good supplements, like glucosamine, which is one of the things we recommend for any dog with joint problems.

All in all, this is a good chew made by a brand we recommend all the time.

Castor & Pollux Good Buddy Rawhide

There’s honestly nothing better than a good ol’ rawhide. There’s not much to say about a rawhide other than that it’s a simple, effective way to keep your dog’s teeth clean.

One of the main benefits in my mind is that a good rawhide is cheap and lasts a fairly long time.

I know our dog's small, but it still takes her weeks to go through a rawhide, and she loves them.

We give her rawhides when she’s stressed because she can just chew on them until she feels better. It’s just a good tool to help get a little energy out.

There’s not much difference between rawhides, since there are so few ingredients.

This is the one we buy, though, because it’s a bit thicker and lasts a bit longer.

If you thought we knocked this article out of the park, you might like the one we wrote on the best dog food or the one we wrote on puppy food. We also have a pretty good guide to foods for weight loss (in dogs, of course) and a large breed food guide.

**Disclaimer: Our dog food reviews are based mostly on (1) our expertise and that of the experts with whom we consult and (2) the information provided by the manufacturers. We do test many dog foods (with our dog's help), but we can't test them all. As such, please remember the above recommendations are our opinions, and you should consult your vet before making changes to your dog's diet.

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%.

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.


Dogs love treats, and dental treats for dogs are a very good way to improve your pup’s dental health. These treats are made specifically to remove plaque buildup and often contain ingredients that freshen breath and clean your dog’s mouth. They are generally much more appreciated by our dogs than a toothbrush or tooth wipes, and they do a great job of keeping our dog’s mouth clean. These treats come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, and you are sure to find something your dog loves.

There are hundreds of different types of dog chews, but almost all of them have teeth-cleaning properties. The act of chewing actually benefits your dog’s oral health, in and of itself, regardless of what is being chewed on. The gnawing scrapes plaque off your dog’s teeth, and many all-natural chews made from meat contain enzymes that help promote dental health. Chews like cow ears, bully sticks, and chicken strips are a great way to keep your dog happy and healthy. If you’re looking for something without any calories, there are many long-lasting rubber or nylon dog chew toys that do the job, as well.

Keeping Canine Teeth Healthy -- The 5 Best and Worst Chews for Your Dog

Of course you love spoiling your pet! But before giving your dog a chew toy, take a closer look. Could it cause the chipping or fracturing of all-important canine teeth?

Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian who provides emergency after-hours care at Rivergate Pet Emergency Clinic in Nashville, says the toys and treats to avoid are those with a hard texture. "Avoid giving your dog metal, hard plastic, bones or other extremely firm objects, as these are most likely to result in a painful, broken tooth," she says. "Oftentimes, dogs enjoy chewing so much that they will overdo it and can cause dental trauma to the mouth."

The Worst Chew Toys and Treats for Dogs
If you can't break it in half, it's too hard and not a good choice for your dog. With that in mind, here are 5 things to avoid:

  1. Animal Chews
    Bones, hooves and antlers are rigid and may lead to chipped or broken teeth, according to Dr. Evans. Bones can splinter and pierce the dog's mouth or become a choking hazard. Some animal chews may also become sharp when the ends are whittled down by chewing.
  2. Tennis Balls
    Although these tend to be a popular play item, Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, a veterinarian with Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado, says, "The woolly nylon fuzz on tennis balls is abrasive and can wear down the enamel on dogs' teeth." In addition, the fuzz can harbor grit and tiny pebbles when outdoors, creating an even more abrasive texture.
  3. Compressed Rawhide
    Beware of chemical processing and bacterial contamination with these. Also, Wooten cautions that "compressed forms of rawhide are very hard, and can cause tooth fractures."
  4. Corn Starch Chews
    If you're avoiding animal chews for your dog, these may seem like healthier treats. But, Wooten says, in addition to corn being a common dog allergen, these are really hard and have been known to break teeth or become choking hazards as small pieces break off the treat.
  5. Ice Cubes
    While you may want to help your pet cool off, don't offer ice cubes. "They can render teeth brittle and more susceptible to fractures," according to Dr. Deborah W. Fegan, owner of Big Creek Pet Hospital in Cleveland.

Better Chew Choices
The best chew treat and toys for your dog are large enough so as not to present a choking hazard. You'll also want to look for those that don't splinter and some that may even offer a dental health benefit. "Be sure to look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Approval on any dental treat that you purchase," Dr. Evans advises. "VOHC certifies treats and toys that are proven to reduce plaque and tartar on your pet's teeth."

Drs. Evans, Wooten and Fegan recommend the following to dog owners and dog sitters to keep canine teeth healthy:

  1. Rubber Toys
    The smooth surfaces offer some flexibility when chewed and won't collect tooth-chipping debris. As a bonus, they can be filled with a mix of hard kibble and soft dog food to keep the pet engaged longer with the toy.
  2. Fresh Produce
    Seedless apple slices and raw carrots provide both vitamins and chewing entertainment.
  3. Dental Treats
    Chews infused with medication to keep the pet's teeth clean are a bonus. Dr. Fegan suggests products with 10 percent Chlorhexdine Gluconate, which she says provides "an antimicrobial action."
  4. Bully Sticks
    These jerky-style treats are chewy, so dogs aren't at risk for hurting their teeth, according to Dr. Wooten.
  5. Pressed Pork Hide
    Pig-based chews are high in protein, low-fat, easily digestible and softer than cow rawhide, making them ideal, say Dr. Wooten.

What To Do if Your Dog Hurts a Tooth
Be cautious examining your dog's mouth. "The pain may cause your otherwise gentle pet to snap or even bite you," Dr. Fegan warns. Help your pet feel better by applying a cold compress to the outer cheek near the injury, which can minimize swelling, bleeding and pain. Dr. Fegan also says it's safe to give your pet aspirin. Seek vet instructions on proper dosage. If a tooth is loose or bleeding, get immediate attention.

"The best thing you can do is check your pet's teeth periodically and have a full dental exam with your veterinarian annually in young pets and every six months if your pet is older," Dr, Evans notes. "If you notice anything unusual, including blood, chipped or broken teeth, excessive wear, discolored teeth, or anything abnormal, be sure to have your pet's mouth examined."

Angela Tague writes about parenting, pet care and being a home-based writer. She and her husband live in Iowa with a bositerous Bull Terrier mix and a wacky Weimaraner.

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