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Do Dental Chew Toys Work for Dogs? Read This Before Buying a Dog Toothbrush Toy.

Do dental chew toys work for dogs or is this wishful thinking on the part of dog parents who don’t want to brush their dogs’ teeth? Let’s find out ...
Complete Guide: Causes & Solutions for Dog Bad Breath Reading Do Dental Chew Toys Work for Dogs? Read This Before Buying a Dog Toothbrush Toy. 9 minutes

My dog won’t let me brush his teeth! We get that this is a frustrating situation, and you’re not alone. Many dog parents have a tough time brushing their dog’s teeth, and simply give up the fight.

But to keep your pooch’s pearly whites from going to the dogs, it’s important to find a no-brush alternative, such as dog teeth cleaning toys. But do dental chew toys work for dogs ... really? Keep reading for the scoop.

Do Dental Chew Toys Work for Dogs?

If you get the right kind of dog teeth cleaning toy, it will absolutely work to support your dog’s oral health and clean their teeth without brushing! To be most effective, the dental chew toy should have nubs or ridges to create an uneven surface.

The abrasive action of chewing on the nubs or ridges will get up and around the dog’s teeth, scraping away plaque (plaque is the starting point of canine gum disease, so removing it daily is key!); stimulating blood circulation to the gums; and freshening their breath.

For best results, dogs should chew on their dental toy every day or at least three times a week. If they only chew on it occasionally, it won’t do much good for their dental health.

Note: while quality dental chew toys DO work for dogs, they are even better when used as a complement to a home dental routine. For the no-brushing crowd, this means things like giving your dog a flavor-free water additive or using a dog dental spray. And be sure to keep your dog’s yearly appointments so the veterinarian can look at their teeth.

Is It Normal to See Blood on a Dog Teeth Cleaning Toy?

Ever notice how your gums can bleed a bit when you floss ... especially if it’s been a while? That’s because your gums are inflamed. But what happens when you get in the habit? Bingo! Your gums stop bleeding because they’re healthier and stronger.

It’s the same thing for dogs. If they are in the earliest (and 100% reversible) stage of gum disease (gingivitis), which is marked by redness or swelling of the gums, their gums may bleed a bit when they’re stimulated by chewing on a dog toothbrush toy. As their gums become healthier and stronger, you shouldn’t see blood on the toy anymore.

Indestructible Dog Toys: Too Good to Be True?

We all know the heartbreak of giving our dogs a plush toy to chew on, only to have a stuffing massacre on our hands, the toy ripped to shreds in 60 seconds flat. But that doesn’t mean you should look for a dental toy made from the toughest materials possible. Hence, beware the phrasing indestructible dog toy. (And for the record: there is no such thing as an indestructible dog toy ... just ask our Labrador.)

The truth is dog teeth cleaning toys made of hard plastic or nylon should be avoided completely. These materials are so hard that they often cause dog tooth fractures (broken or chipped teeth).

Likewise, deer, elk or any kind of antler is too hard and should not be used as a dog dental chew. A fractured tooth exposes the root, where bacteria can get inside, leading to an infection. A broken tooth is painful for dogs ... and painful for pet parents when they see the dental bill, especially if the dog needs a root canal.

Here’s a good rule for dog teeth cleaning toys: if you press your fingernail into it, it should have some slight give.

What to Look for in a Dog Teeth Cleaning Toy

Look for dog teeth cleaning toys made of natural rubber. Rubber toys reign supreme when it comes to dogs chewing their way to better oral health. Here’s why:

  • They’re durable without being too hard on the teeth, making them a great choice even for the power chewers (we’re talking to you, boxers).
  • Unlike plastic toys, they’re free of harmful chemicals. (We wouldn’t chew on plastic, why should our pups?)
  • They’re easy to clean. Simply wash them with hot, soapy water or throw ‘em in the dishwasher.
  • They come in many fun shapes and sizes so you can find the best one for your dog.
  • Bonus points for any dog teeth cleaning toys where you can stuff a treat inside if desired. It entices the dog to chew, chew, chew and clean those teeth in the process.
  • Dogs love to chew on rubber toys – and they’ll be none the wiser about the benefits to their teeth and gums.

Remember: the most important thing is to make sure the rubber toy has ridges or nubs. This will help clean the dog’s teeth and massage their gums.

Pets Go Crazy for Oxyfresh Dog Dental Chew Toy

Oxyfresh Dog Dental Chew Toy, available in two paw-some styles, is designed specifically to clean dogs’ teeth while they chew.

Made from 100% rubber, it’s gentle on teeth but tough on plaque, courtesy of all those flexible rounded ridges (bristles).

With every chew, it’ll gently scrape your dog’s teeth and massage their gums, helping to dislodge food and decay. And don’t worry ... even aggressive chewers will have a hard time showing this durable dog teeth cleaning toy who’s boss!

Not only does it clean dogs’ teeth without brushing, Oxyfresh Dental Chew Toy is also perfect for enrichment, stress reduction, and games of fetch ... all important elements to a dog’s wellbeing. And, because there’s a hollow center, you can add treats inside too, which only adds to the chewing fun!

Want to kick your dog’s dental care up a few more notches? Add some dog toothpaste along the toy’s rounded grooves. As your dog chews on it, it’ll be like your dog is brushing their own teeth!

Best toothpaste to apply to your dog's dental toy

Sure, we’re a little partial, but we recommend adding Oxyfresh Pet Toothpaste to your pup’s rubber toothbrush toy.

Only Oxyfresh Pet Toothpaste is formulated with the proprietary ingredient Oxygene®, which oxidizes (eliminates) plaque- and bad breath-causing bacteria right at the source, helping to keep dogs’ teeth and gums healthy.

This toothpaste is uniquely flavor free, so you’ll know it’s really working, unlike pet toothpastes that only mask bad dog breath with icky flavoring agents. (Besides, no one wants their carpets to smell like poultry or sirloin!)

As this toothpaste gets onto your dog’s teeth and gums via a good chew session, it will help reduce plaque, keep their breath fresh, and give your pooch a leg up against gum disease, which affects an astonishing 80% of dogs by age three.

It’s the ultimate brush-free way to clean your dog’s teeth!

Can You Use Raw Bones as a Natural Dog Toothbrush Toy?

Raw meaty bones are another (albeit messy) way to complement a dental routine and help clean and freshen your dog’s breath without brushing. Raw bones are filled with calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help give dogs strong teeth and bones. And as your pet tears and rips at the meat on the bone, it acts as a natural dental floss and teeth cleaner. Plus, raw bones satisfy their chewing instinct and are simply delicious and fun to chew on (according to our dogs ... we haven’t tried them ourselves).

Dos & don'ts of giving your dog raw bones

  • Don’t give your dog cooked or smoked bones – they can easily splinter, posing a choking hazard.
  • Don’t give your dog bones that are too dense (think weight-bearing bones like leg bones or hip bones); exposed marrow bones (prone to breakage); or raw pork bones – they’re more brittle and can splinter.
  • Do supervise your dog when they’re chewing on a bone.
  • Do find the right-sized bone for your dog. The bone should be longer than the length of your dog’s muzzle, so they aren’t able to swallow the bone whole.
  • Do dispose of raw bones after a couple hours. The alternative is to refrigerate them after every 15-min. chew session, then discard after 3–4 days.

The best raw bones for dogs will be soft and contain connective tissue. Poultry bones are a preferred choice, including chicken back bones, turkey wings, chicken or duck legs & feet (nails removed), and neck bones. Note: your dog’s teeth should be harder than the bone, which should have some give to it. Otherwise, you risk tooth fractures with raw bones.

The Final Word on Dog Dental Chew Toys

While there are many ways to complement your dog’s dental routine, a dog toothbrush toy is top dog. It isn’t messy like raw bones, it’s more affordable than dental treats, and when you apply Oxyfresh Pet Toothpaste to it, it’ll be like your dog is brushing their own teeth. Boom! What more could you ask for?!

dog dental chew toy 5 star review


melissa gulbranson oxyfresh cmo

Meet the Author

Melissa Gulbranson is the Co-Chief Operating Officer & Chief Marketing Officer for Oxyfresh. A recipient of the Pet Age's "Women of Influence" Award, she’s passionate about educating pet parents in ways that really resonate with them. Melissa loves days on the lake and hiking with her fur kid, Parker, and husband, Doug. Parker (a total ham) can be spotted running laps through the office each morning, greeting every team member. You can find Parker near the treats, and Melissa on Linkedin.