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Dental chews are an integral part of your dog’s health regimen. On top of annual dental check-ups, cleanings and regular tooth brushing, treating your pup to vet-approved dental chews can significantly reduce her risk of developing periodontal disease (and bad breath, of course). Unfortunately, one of the most common issues vets see is poor dental health. Gum disease, plaque and tartar in dogs can lead to things like kidney failure, heart disease and chronic pain. Um, no thank you! The thing is, any old chew won’t do. We talked to experts to vet (get it?) the best products for your dog.

But first, what makes a good dog dental chew?

According to veterinary professionals at Banfield Pet Hospital, it’s important to give your dog dental chews that feature abrasive surfaces and/or enzymes. An abrasive surface is most critical because that’s what will scrape plaque off the sides and curves of canine teeth. The surface of any good dog dental chew should effectively help mimic a brushing session. Enzymes are important because they break down tartar and bacteria naturally. Finally, dental chews worth buying will be long-lasting. Since vets recommend brushing your dog’s teeth for 30 seconds on each side, treats that take a while to chew and eat are doing a lot more work than those your dog scarfs down in less than a minute.

Below are three dog dental chews recommended by veterinarians for maintaining a healthy canine mouth and preventing periodontal disease. Each comes in a variety of sizes, so be sure to choose the one best suited for your pup. Um, yes please!

1. Greenies Dental Chews

Both Banfield and the Association of American Feed Control Officials have given Greenies Dental Chews many thumbs up. These are actual treats that can be ingested (they are designed to be easily digestible). When your dog chews Greenies, her teeth dig in all the way to the gums, which is essential for a good, deep clean. The treats’ flexibility also makes it safer for your dog to chew on; tough rawhide with no give tends to crack teeth.

Buy it (starting at $5)

2. Whimzees Brushzees

In 2019, these funky brush-shaped treats received a coveted seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Built with rough ridges and deep grooves (and a funny, smiling tooth), these little “brushes” whisk away plaque, loosen tartar and freshen breath. Like Greenies, one per day is the recommended dose.

Buy it ($8)

3. Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews

Here we go with the enzyme factor. Touted as the number-one brand vets recommend, Virbac has been in this business for decades. (They also make tooth brushing kits with antiseptic enzymatic toothpaste, if you’re looking for a place to start that habit.) These chews are made from select beef hide and feature the company’s “Dual-Enzyme” system. Again, be sure to choose the right size treat for your dog. If a large breed swallows a small treat in a few seconds, plaque and tartar won’t budge.

Buy it (starting at $12)

When in doubt, discuss dental health with your dog’s veterinarian. Some breeds require additional cleanings; some dogs refuse to have their teeth brushed and may need more frequent, in-depth procedures. At the end of the day, clean, healthy teeth take a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end.

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