Table of Contents
- Pedigree Dentastix
- Greenies Dental Treats
- Purina Dentalife Dental Chews
- Whimzees Dental Chews
- Rawhide Dental Sticks and Chews
- Is It OK To Give Your Dog Occasional Processed Dental Chews
- Best Natural Alternatives to Processed Dental Sticks
Dental care is crucial for dogs for several reasons, and neglecting it can lead to a range of health issues and discomfort for your canine companion. There are 7 key reasons why dental care is important for dogs.
Prevention of Dental Disease: Just like humans, dogs can suffer from dental problems such as plaque build-up, tartar accumulation, gum disease, and tooth decay. These issues can cause pain and discomfort for your dog and may lead to more severe health problems if left untreated.
Pain Relief: Dental problems can be painful for dogs. Toothaches and gum inflammation can affect their ability to eat, chew, and even play. Regular dental care helps identify and address these issues promptly, providing relief for your pet.
Improved Overall Health: Poor dental health in dogs can have systemic effects. Bacteria from dental disease can enter the bloodstream and affect vital organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys, potentially leading to serious health conditions.
Longevity: Proper dental care can contribute to your dog's overall longevity. Dental problems that progress without treatment can lead to tooth loss and may even necessitate the removal of multiple teeth, impacting your dog's ability to eat and enjoy life.
Prevention of Bad Breath: Dental issues are a common cause of bad breath in dogs. Regular dental care can help combat foul odours, making your dog's breath more pleasant for interactions with family and other pets.
Enhanced Quality of Life: Maintaining good dental health ensures that your dog can eat comfortably and enjoy their food. It also helps them play and interact with toys without pain or discomfort.
Reduced Veterinary Costs: Routine dental care, including at-home brushing and professional cleanings by a veterinarian or an Emmi-Pet specialist, can help prevent costly dental procedures and treatments that may be required to address advanced dental disease.
Manufactured dental chews for dogs have become increasingly popular, with their clever marketing campaigns touting numerous benefits for dogs. However, there is a growing concern that these products might not be as beneficial as they are made out to be.
The leading competitors in the dental stick market are Pedigree Dentastix, Greenies, Purina, Whimzees and Rawhide (not forgetting that many supermarkets and retail outlets now also have their own brand dental sticks).
All of these dental sticks and chews from the market leaders are heavily processed, some are manufactured in China and imported to be repackaged and all of them contain low-quality ingredients or additives that could be harmful to dogs.
Most of these leading brands contain ‘derivatives’ of varying degrees, from vegetable to animal, which could mean anything - labelling laws do not require manufacturers to specify what these ‘derivatives’ are in dog treats.
Pedigree Dentastix (also referred to as Pedigree Dental Sticks) are a popular brand of dental chews or dental treats designed for dogs. The marketing claim for these treats is that they are formulated to help promote good oral hygiene and dental health in dogs. They are produced by the Pedigree brand, known for its dog food and pet care products.
Dentastix come in various sizes to accommodate different dog breeds and sizes. They also offer options for different life stages, such as puppies and adult dogs. Pedigree Dentastix have a unique X-shaped design with a textured surface. This design is intended to encourage dogs to chew on the sticks for an extended period, allowing for mechanical cleaning of their teeth.
Exact ingredient composition of Pedigree Dentastix may vary depending on the specific product variation, here is a typical ingredient list for Pedigree Dentastix Advanced Medium Chew:
- Derivatives of Vegetable Origin
- Minerals (including Sodium Tripolyphosphate*)
- Zinc (Zinc sulphate, heptahydrate)
- Meat and Animal Derivatives (including Dried Poultry Liver 3%, equivalent to Chicken Liver 5.2%)
- Chicken Flavouring
- Oils and Fats
The Worst Ingredient in Pedigree Dentastix: Sodium Tripolyphosphate (STPP), or E451
A particularly worrying ingredient in Dentastix that carries out all the teeth cleaning action. STPP is used in dog food products as an artificial preservative, to help chemically thicken mixtures. In recent studies on dogs, E451 caused a decrease in iron content in the bone, liver and spleen plus vomiting.
STPP can also be found in household cleaners, water softeners and tanning products.
Greenies Dental Treats
Greenies Dental Treats are a well-known brand of dental chews or dental treats for dogs. The marketing for these treats claims that they are designed to provide a combination of dental care and a tasty snack for dogs. They are produced by the Greenies brand, which is recognised for its focus on pet dental health products.
Greenies Dental Treats come in various sizes to accommodate different dog breeds and sizes. They also offer options for different life stages, such as puppies, adults, and seniors. Greenies Dental Treats have a distinctive, chewy texture that is designed to promote chewing and provide mechanical cleaning of a dog's teeth. The texture of Greenies is intended to help reduce plaque and tartar build-up through abrasion.
Exact ingredient composition of Greenies may vary depending on the specific product variation, here is a typical ingredient list for Greenies Original Medium Dog Treat:
- Derivatives of vegetable origin
- Meat and animal derivatives
- Oils and fats
- Various sugars
Greenies are full of calories thanks to the ‘various sugars’ included in them. There are twenty-eight calories in a small sized Greenie. The weight management version has twenty-four calories. Which is about 10% of a small dog’s daily caloric intake.
Purina Dentalife Dental Chews
Purina Dentalife Dental Chews are a brand of dental treats designed for dogs. The marketing for these treats claims that they are formulated to support canine dental health by providing both a tasty snack and mechanical cleaning for their teeth. They are produced by Purina, a well-known name in the pet food and pet care industry.
Dentalife Dental Chews come in different sizes to accommodate various dog breeds and sizes. These dental chews are designed to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on a dog's teeth. The texture and shape of the chews are intended to mechanically remove these dental deposits through abrasion.
Exact ingredient composition of Purina Dentalife Chews may vary depending on the specific product variation, here is a typical ingredient list for Purina Dentalife Medium Dog Dental Chew:
- Cereals (62% extruded corn flour, 5% wheat flour)
- Meat and animal derivatives
- Oils and fats
Glycerol (artificial sugar) features prominently in these treats with a whopping 69 calories per stick alongside other dubious ingredients with no nutritional value.
Whimzees Dental Chews
Whimzees Dental Chews are a brand of dental treats for dogs that are marketed to promote oral health while providing an enjoyable and tasty chewing experience. These chews are produced by Whimzees, a company that emphasises ‘natural’ ingredients and unique shapes to support canine dental care.
Whimzees offers a range of sizes to accommodate different dog breeds and sizes. Whimzees Dental Chews come in a variety of whimsical shapes and designs, including toothbrushes, alligators, and hedgehogs. The cleaning action provided by Whimzees Dental Chews primarily involves a mechanical function. The unique shapes, ridges, and grooves of these chews are intended to encourage dogs to chew thoroughly. As dogs chew on the chews, the textured surface supposedly mechanically removes plaque and tartar from their teeth through physical abrasion. This mechanical cleaning process is apparently similar to brushing a dog's teeth with a toothbrush, although it may not be as precise.
Exact ingredient composition of Whimzees Chews may vary depending on the specific product variation, here is a typical ingredient list for Whimzees Brushzees Dental Treats:
- Potato Starch
- Powdered Cellulose
- Dried Yeast
- Malt Extract
- Sweet Lupine Meal
- Alfalfa Extract
- Paprika Extract
- Calcium Carbonate
Whilst the ingredients listed for Whimzees Dental Chews are less artificial than the other market leaders, the plastic-like texture of Whimzees and dubious ingredient benefit claims make us question their actual effectiveness. The addition of Glycerin again bumps up the calorific content of these dental treats with a medium chew containing a massive 89 calories.
Rawhide Dental Sticks and Chews
Rawhide dental sticks and chews are pet products made from the heavily processed inner layer of cow or other animal hides. While these chews are marketed as a way to promote dental health in dogs, there is huge concern relating to the danger of rawhide chews for dogs.
Rawhide is available in a range of shapes, sizes, textures, colours and designs and is often found in mainstream pet shops and supermarkets. The majority of rawhide is imported from China to the UK.
The cleaning action provided by Rawhide primarily involves a mechanical function. As dogs chew on the chews, the textured surface mechanically removes plaque and tartar from their teeth through physical abrasion.
The ingredients and chemicals involved in the production of rawhide products can vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific processing methods used. Rawhide is typically made from the inner layer of animal hides, primarily cattle hides. Here are some of the common ingredients and chemicals that may be involved in the production of rawhide:
- Chemical Cleaning Agents & Bleaches
- Binding Agents & Glues
Looking at the ingredients list, we don’t need to elaborate further on the dangers of using Rawhide as a dental chew. Worryingly, Rawhide remains the number one chew choice for many dog owners in the UK. Learn more about the dangers of rawhide.
Is It OK To Give Your Dog Occasional Processed Dental Chews
The purist in us says NO, but, in realistic terms most humans enjoy indulgent snacks from time to time so why shouldn’t our canine companions?
The odd processed dental stick or treat is not going to harm your dog (rawhide is not included in this statement - never feed rawhide) but certainly shouldn’t be something to feed daily and is not going to benefit your dog’s dental health.
If we were to choose from the list of the market leaders for a very occasional treat alongside natural dental chews, we would choose Whimzees due to their slightly superior (and we use that word loosely) ingredient list to the other manufacturers.
Best Natural Alternatives to Processed Dental Sticks
Dental sticks and chews have become popular choices for dog owners seeking convenient ways to address their dog's oral hygiene. However, amidst the sea of processed dental sticks on the market, there's a growing awareness of the benefits of opting for natural alternatives.
While processed dental sticks are often marketed as a quick solution to plaque and tartar build-up, they may not always be the healthiest option for our pets. These commercial dental treats often contain a range of additives, preservatives, artificial flavours, and chemicals that can raise concerns about a dog's long-term health. Additionally, there's the question of whether these processed treats truly deliver on their promises of dental care.
In contrast, natural alternatives to processed dental sticks offer a wholesome approach to canine oral hygiene. They are free from artificial additives in favour of simplicity, putting the health and well-being of dogs at the forefront.
Natural dental chews all offer the mechanical abrasion of plaque and tartar through chewing which will assist in keeping dog’s teeth and gums in good oral health.
Best for Heavy Chewers: Olive wood chews
An olive wood dog chew is made from the wood of sustainable olive trees. These chews are designed for dogs to gnaw on and provide a natural and durable option for canine dental care. Olive wood dog chews are typically created by shaping and smoothing pieces of olive wood to make them safe and appealing for dogs to chew. They come in various sizes and shapes to accommodate different dog breeds and preferences. They are also free from calories making them perfect for weight management of your dog.
Best for Large Dog Breeds: Lamb Horn
A lamb horn or ram horn dog chew are designed for dogs to gnaw on and provide a natural and durable option for dental care. Lamb horn dog chews are hollow, long lasting and provide the mechanical abrasive action of plaque removal whilst your dog chews. They are a great alternative to cow hooves which can be sharp. Available in four sizes with large or extra-large perfect for large breeds.
Best for Small Dog Breeds: Yak Chew
A yak dog chew, also known as a yak milk dog chew or Himalayan dog chew, is a type of dog dental treat or chew originally made from the milk of yaks, (a type of cattle found in the Himalayan region, primarily Nepal and Tibet). Most Yak Chews are now made in Europe from cow milk but maintaining Himalayan traditions. These chews are created by heating and processing cow milk, along with other natural ingredients like lime juice, to form a dense, hard, and long-lasting treat for dogs. Available in four sizes with a small being perfect for Small Dogs.
Best for Puppies: Pizzles
Pizzles, often referred to as a bully sticks, is a dog chew made from the penis of a bull or steer. These chews are perfect for puppies and dogs to gnaw on and provide a natural and long-lasting chewing experience whilst the mechanical abrasion on the teeth helps to keep oral health tip top.
Best for Older Dogs: Fish Jerky Bars
Fish jerky bars for dogs are natural dental sticks made from fish that has been processed and dehydrated to create an abrasive jerky-like texture suitable for dogs. These treats are rich in protein and Omega Oils and are gentle enough for more senior mouths to chew whilst getting the benefit of the abrasive action to remove plaque and tartar.
With wags and woofs,
Laura, Dolly & Reggie