We all have heard time and time again that there is no replacement for brushing our pets teeth. The old toothbrush and toothpaste can’t be replaced. In reality, however, most of us our lucky if we brush our own teeth twice a day. Now to get in the habit of brushing our pet’s teeth is easier said than done. Some pets simply won’t cooperate, and for some people it is just too much effort.

Keeping this all in mind, many companies have started producing dental treats. Studies have shown that when pets chew hard, abrasive material that it helps to keep tartar and plaque buildup to a minimum. When there is less tartar and plaque on the teeth, bacteria won’t have such a great home in the mouth. This helps keep the mouth cleaner so dental disease is less prevalent.

The problem is that not all dental treats are created equal. As a consumer it is hard to distinguish which is the best for your pet’s teeth. There are certain bones, like Milk bones, that lots of dogs like. The problem is that these bones are very high in calories (a large Milk bone has approximately 112 calories). Although many dogs find them tasty, it would be like a person eating a small candy bar. They are not very effective cleaning the teeth, and they lack good nutritional value. On the other end of the spectrum you have products like Greenies. They are extremely firm so your pet has lots of abrasive material to work its way through. They are comprised of lots of cellulose fiber. The problem with cellulose fiber is that the body can’t digest it properly. In a study by the Journal of Nutrition, in an article entitled, “Effects of fiber on digestibility and transit time in dogs” (1982 Sep; 112(9):1726-32), they found that cellulose was only 6% digestible in dogs. This indigestible material can potentially get stuck in your pet’s digestive tract and not be absorbed like food can be. It will also cause your pet to need to defecate more often.

When choosing a dental bone or treat for your pet, look for something that is not only nutritious but also highly digestible. Look for products that are formulated to taste good but that also provide some health benefits for your pets teeth and gums. Choosing the right products will greatly help your pets teeth and overall oral hygiene and still provide them with a tasty treat they can snack on and enjoy.