Dog with dental stick in its mouth.

Dental Sticks For Dogs -
The Best Options In Australia

Our #1 Pick

Savourlife Australian Natural Dental Bars

The Best Value for Money

Savourlife Australian Natural Dental Bars

  • Tougher texture for better cleaning
  • Gluten-free
  • No added sugars
  • Low in fat & salt
  • Enriched with vitamins

In recent years, we’ve been hearing more and more about the importance of dental care for dogs. Even though dental care was an aspect of canine health that has been very much neglected for a long time, responsible pet parents these days want to keep their dog’s teeth healthy.

But what is the best way to keep those teeth clean? There is no one simple answer that works for everyone. But, one thing is for sure, dental sticks for dogs are a step in the right direction and practically every dog will love them. Today’s guide is here to help you find the best dental chew for your dog.


Do Dogs Need Dental Chews?

Do dogs need dental treats? Well, it depends on your dental health routine, but they definitely can’t hurt.

If a dog’s teeth are not cleaned regularly, this is what will happen:

“If your dog’s teeth are not brushed daily, plaque will accumulate. After 72 hours, that plaque will become mineralised and turn into dental calculus—often referred to as tartar. Tartar is easier for plaque to stick to than the natural smooth surface of the tooth, so it allows for more plaque to accumulate.  Plaque on the teeth will cause inflammation of the gums.” - Elizabeth McCalley, DVM, PetMD (1).

And if left untreated, inflammation of the gums (periodontal disease) can lead to a variety of other problems. You get the point. Dogs need their teeth cleaned.

Now, dental sticks are rarely enough to completely clean a dog’s teeth, especially if they have been neglected for a while. They are typically too soft and short-lived. In nature, dogs clean their teeth by chewing on hard things like sticks (not recommended) and bones (depending on the dog). We can help them get their teeth sparkling white by using a toothbrush and/or various other products.

But what dental sticks can do is help prevent those pesky plaque sediments from forming. When used as a preventive measure, they can be very beneficial and make your and your dog’s life much easier.


What to Look for in Dog Dental Chews

Dental sticks might be good for your dog, but not every dental treat is the same. Some dental treats have active ingredients that help clean the teeth, while others rely on the texture and the action of chewing.

Related: What Can I Give My Dog For Bad Breath?

The perfect choice depends on the size and habits of your dog, so there is no simple answer. However, if you pay attention to these 4 points you’ll easily find the perfect dental treat for your dog:

Size

When getting dental treats, it’s important to get the right size for your dog. This is less of an issue with small dogs than with large dogs. If your dog is on the smaller side, you can always break the larger dental sticks into pieces (providing they are soft enough) and feed the appropriate amount.

However, if you have a large dog and feed tiny dental treats, they will simply not do anything for their teeth. Some chewing action needs to happen for a dental treat to be effective.

Luckily, most manufacturers make dental treats in different sizes and will state the appropriate dosage on the packaging based on the weight of your dog. Always follow these guidelines.

Texture

The texture of a dental chew is an important feature because it is what allows this type of treat to mechanically clean the dog’s teeth (2).

This is also the part that relates to your dog’s habits and temperament. In terms of texture, there is a case to be made both for softer and harder dental treats for dogs.

Softer dog chews let the dog’s teeth sink into the treat which allows for more contact with the surface area of the tooth. However, this will only work for dogs that are used to chewing more slowly and gently, usually smaller dogs.

Power chewers who like to attack their food and chomp it down as fast as possible will most likely benefit from dental treats with a tougher texture.

Active Ingredients

As mentioned above, only some dental treats have ingredients that promote cleaner teeth beyond the mechanical cleaning effect of a chew. But even when they do, it can be hard to determine what these ingredients are and whether they are safe just from looking at the ingredient list.

One way to check unknown dental treats is to see if they have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance. VOHC has a list of dental treats that are considered safe and effective, but still, it is not a regulatory agency and applications for their approval are voluntary - so the usefulness of this list is limited.

The most common substance added to dog dental sticks to prevent plaque formation is sodium polyphosphate (which can appear in the ingredient list as Sodium Tripolyphosphate or Sodium Hexametaphosphate). Now, these substances are also sometimes found in dog food as preservatives, but they do help keep teeth clean by preventing plaque from turning into calculus (the mineralised form (3). 

Zinc seems to work similarly, and since it’s also a necessary nutrient for dogs it is often included in dental treats (4).

Nutrition

The final thing to consider when shopping for dental treats is nutrition. Unfortunately, if you are going to buy dental sticks, it’s almost impossible to avoid ‘filler’ ingredients like potato starch, white flour, rice flour, tapioca, and the like. The thing is, it is hard to avoid such ingredients because they give dental sticks its unique texture.

It’s up to you to decide what you deem ok for your dog, but while some fillers are unavoidable, we’d advise staying away from treats that list lots of artificial preservatives and colours, for example.


Best Dental Treats for Dogs 2022: Our Top Picks

Now, enough of the ingredient analysis, and let’s find some tasty treats for your pooch!

Savourlife Australian Natural Dental Bars

What sets this product apart from the rest?

  • Tougher texture for better cleaning
  • Gluten-free
  • No added sugars
  • Low in fat & salt
  • Enriched with vitamins
  • Key ingredients: Kangaroo meat, Mint, Parsley, Vitamin C, Zinc
  • Price: $$$
  • Sizes: for Small/Medium Dogs; for Medium/Large Dogs

The Savour Life Dental Bars are a great example of a dental treat that is also a decent snack aside from the oral health benefits. While they are not exactly perfect in terms of nutrition, these sticks are not that bad either plus they are made mostly with wholesome natural ingredients.

The first ingredients on the list are rice & rice flour, wheat starch, and tapioca. These are not the most awesome ingredients your dog can have but are ok for most dogs when fed in reasonable amounts, which is exactly what an occasional dental stick is. Moreover, these treats also contain quite a bit of actual kangaroo meat, thus driving the total protein content of these sticks to 12%.

The Savourlife Australian Natural Dental Bars being tested by our independent expert team.

Savourlife Australian Natural Dental Bars being tested by our review team.

But what about dental benefits? What many pet parents and doggos love are the fact that these sticks are tougher than most other options. This means more chewing time which leads to cleaner teeth.

The Savourlife sticks also include a range of added vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C and Zinc which help keep the teeth clean.

Verified Review - 10/04/2021
They actually work
"My dog loves these chews. He takes longer to chew through them so they actually work. Not like other denture chews that he eats like lollies."

Pros

Cons

  • Tougher texture for better cleaning
  • Only one flavour is available
  • Gluten-free
  • No added sugars
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  • Low in fat & salt
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  • Enriched with vitamins
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Greenies Original Mega Treat Pack
  • Easily digestible
  • Dogs seem to love them
  • Freshens the breath
  • Gently fights tartar buildup
  • Key ingredients: Wheat Flour, Vitamins, and Minerals
  • Calories: Around 90 kcal per treat
  • Price: $$
  • Sizes: Teenie, Petite, Regular, Large
  • Flavours: Original, Blueberry, Fresh

Greenies are among the most popular dental treats for dogs. But are they really that good? Well, one thing is for sure, dogs certainly seem to love them. There is just something about the smell.

Greenies are also one of the few dental treats that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council stamp of approval, which is the reason why many pet parents trust them.

The Greenies Original Mega Treat Pack being tested by our independent expert team.

Greenies Original Mega Treat Pack being tested by our review team.

The thing about greenies is that they are designed to clean the dog’s teeth gently during chewing, but they are also quite soft compared to some other options. For some dogs this is fine, but power chewers will get through a greenie in seconds. In that case, it doesn’t do anything for the dog’s teeth - it’s just a treat.

On the bright side, even if your dog ends up swallowing a Greenie, they are easy to digest. These treats are also enriched with various vitamins and minerals, so they help support your pooch’s health.

Verified Review - 3/12/2021
Teeth cleaning they love
"Brilliant product. My dogs love them and look forward to their healthy treat daily. Their breath is better, too."

Pros

Cons

  • Easily digestible
  • Larger dogs might chomp those down very quickly
  • Dogs seem to love them
  • Not for puppies under 6 months of age
  • Freshens the breath
  • Not very nutritious
  • Gently fights tartar buildup
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#3: Best for Puppies: N-Bone Puppy Teething Treats

N-Bone Puppy Teething Treats
  • Designed for teething puppies
  • Fortified with calcium for healthy teeth and bones
  • Enriched with fish oil
  • No added sugar
  • Key ingredients: Rice flour, chicken, fish oil
  • Calories: 14 kcal per stick
  • Price: $$
  • Sizes: One Size

Most dental sticks aren’t formulated for puppies. As we all know, teething puppies love to chew on things, but their gentle gums and growing teeth need extra care. Dental sticks made for adults can be too tough and aggressive for tiny pups.

These sticks from N-Bone are made specifically for young puppies. They have a softer texture but are still tough enough to give the pups some chewing satisfaction. They are also fortified with calcium and DHA fatty acids to support the needs of a growing puppy.

The N-Bone Puppy Teething Treats being tested by our independent expert team.

N-Bone Puppy Teething Treats being tested by our review team.

In short, they are a nice and entertaining snack you can give to your pup until they are old enough to enjoy ‘real’ dental treats.

Verified Review - 29/01/2021
Springer Pups favourite treat!
"My 8 week old Springer pup loves these. Everyday we go through a little hyper hour and he becomes a bit nippy, we’ve been using these to redirect that behaviour. No upset stomach with these and they seem to be not too soft or overly hard."

Pros

Cons

  • Designed for teething puppies
  • They don’t last very long
  • Fortified with calcium for healthy teeth and bones
  • Enriched with fish oil
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  • No added sugar
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#4: Best Grain-Free Dog Dental Sticks: Bell & Bone Dental Sticks

Bell & Bone Dental Sticks
  • Decent nutritional profile
  • Protein is the first ingredient
  • Grain-free
  • No added sugars
  • Made in Australia
  • Key ingredients: Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Zinc Sulphate + Herbs
  • Calories: Around 70 calories per medium-sized stick (depending on the recipe)
  • Price: $$$$/ 7 sticks $ 20
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, and Large
  • Flavours: Chicken with Mint & Seaweed; Duck with Mint & Cinnamon; Lamb with Mint & Manuka Honey; Salmon with Mint & Charcoal; Kangaroo with Mint & Turmeric

Bell & Bone is a newcomer to the dog treat market, so there are still not as many reviews for their products available as for the big brands. The idea behind the dental treat line created by this small Australian company is to create treats that help maintain oral health while also being good healthy treats in themselves.

The ingredient list for these dental sticks does look quite good. Each of their recipes contains around 25% of meat as the first ingredient. Besides the meat, the sticks also contain herbs like mint and turmeric and other healthy ingredients like seaweed or manuka honey.

The Bell & Bone Dental Sticks being tested by our independent expert team.

Bell & Bone Dental Sticks being tested by our review team.

There are no added sugars or unnecessary additives, but there are two active ingredients that promote oral health: Sodium Tripolyphosphate and Zinc Sulphate, both proven to be safe and effective in preventing tartar formation.

Pros

Cons

  • Decent nutritional profile
  • More expensive than some other options
  • Protein is the first ingredient
  • Grain-free
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  • No added sugars
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  • Made in Australia
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#5: Best Dog Dental Sticks for Bad Breath: TropiClean Fresh Breath Dental Sticks

TropiClean Fresh Breath Dental Sticks
  • Grain-free
  • Effective plaque prevention
  • Good value for money
  • Freshens the breath
  • Key ingredients: Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Zinc Propionate, Coconut Oil, Vanilla & Mint Flavour
  • Calories: 56 kcal per stick
  • Price: $$$
  • Sizes: Small & Regular

TropiClean is a company that has been around since 1992. In the beginning, they were focusing on natural grooming products for pets, but over time, they have been experimenting with different products.

In 2010, TropiClean started making dental products for dogs which quickly became a hit and made the brand famous. These days, TropiClean makes a variety of options for dental care, including dental sticks, water additives, and gels.

The TropiClean Fresh Breath Dental Sticks being tested by our independent expert team.

ropiClean Fresh Breath Dental Sticks being tested by our review team.

Their unique twist is that they are focused on making your dog’s breath smell fresh. This is possible due to a mix of additions like vanilla, mint flavour, coconut oil, green tea extract, and rosemary extract. The combo works quite well for most dogs, but keep in mind some of these ingredients can get food sensitivities to flare up in some canines (but that’s the case for almost any food).

Besides the fresheners, these sticks also contain sodium phosphates and zinc which help protect the teeth from bacteria.

The main downside: the main ingredient in these sticks is potato flour which is not a healthy ingredient for dogs, but it’s ok for the occasional dental stick.

Verified Review - 30/08/2020
If Shula Likes it, I’m Happy!
"In April I had my 3.5 year old Schnoodle’s teeth cleaned professionally. The hygienist commented that her teeth looked great. She’s been using the Fresh Breath Oral Care in her water, and has one of these chews each day. I think that has really helped keep her teeth white and her breath fresh. It’s not a long lasting Chew treat but she certainly enjoys the few minutes it takes her to chew it up."

Pros

Cons

  • Grain-free
  • Not the best nutritional profile
  • Effective plaque prevention
  • Some dogs can be overly sensitive to some of the ingredients.
  • Good value for money
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  • Freshens the breath
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Dingo Dental Spirals Parsley Treats For Dogs
  • Affordable
  • Not too brittle
  • Convenient
  • Dogs seem to love them
  • Key ingredients: Wheat gluten, dried pineapple pulp, dried parsley
  • Calories: 63 kcal per treat
  • Price: $
  • Sizes: One size

You’d like to have some dental treats to offer to your dog (or any dog you meet), but you aren’t ready to spend a fortune? These Dental Spirals from Dingo might be a good choice.

Compared to other options, these treats are quite affordable. They come in only one side but are easy to break into smaller pieces due to the soft texture. This can come in handy if your dog is on the smaller side.

The Dingo Dental Spirals Parsley Treats For Dogs being tested by our independent expert team.

Dingo Dental Spirals Parsley Treats For Dogs being tested by our review team.

As mentioned, these chews are a bit softer than some other options. This works better for some dogs, but it will all depend on your pooch’s chewing style.

There is something about these treats that makes the dogs go crazy about them, but the nutritional profile is not great. Basically, it’s lots of gluten and ingredients like dried pineapple pulp and tapioca starch. Not the best options, but not horrible either. In short, these are ok as an occasional dental treat.

Verified Review - 30/10/2021
Fantastic smell is awesome gentle on the mouth
"Easy soft gentle tastes great but does the job not hard like others my Whippet goes ballistic when I get one out for him price affordable."

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable
  • Not the best nutritional profile
  • Not too brittle
  • Contains artificial colours and preservatives
  • Convenient
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  • Dogs seem to love them
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OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews for Dogs
  • The soft texture is perfect for sensitive teeth
  • Contains a unique active ingredient
  • VOHC stamp of approval
  • Helps reduce and fight plaque and tartar formations
  • Key ingredients: Delmopinol Hydrochloride
  • Calories: 80 kcal per medium chew
  • Price: $$$$$
  • Sizes: 4 sizes based on dog weight

The catchphrase of OraVet is “serious oral care made simple” and that’s really what this product strives to do. OraVet makes a couple of products for dog dental care most of which are made to be used by veterinarians, but these dental chews are created to offer effective and effortless dental care for your dog at home.

The unique feature of the OraVet chews is the active ingredient: delmopinol. This active substance was proven to be effective in fighting plaque in humans, but OraVet is the first company to introduce it to dogs.

The OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews for Dogs being tested by our independent expert team.

OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews for Dogs being tested by our review team.

OraVet claims to have done thorough clinical research proving the safety and effectiveness of delmopinol in dogs. According to their claims, these chews are more effective than anything else available in reducing plaque, tartar, and halitosis.

OraVet chews have been awarded the VOHC stamp of approval, but the actual research is not publicly available. Still, the chews are quite popular and many pet parents seem to be happy with them.

Another unique feature of OraVet chews is its soft texture. Each chew is individually wrapped to keep the treat soft. The idea behind this is that the dog’s teeth get to sink into the treat, thus making it more effective at cleaning gunk off the teeth. This tends to work great for smaller and gentler dogs, but not for power chewers who will basically swallow the treat.

Verified Review - 3/04/2021
Good Product but Expensive
"A good product- very expensive to buy as 3 Chews per Pack as delivered by Amazon."

Pros

Cons

  • The soft texture is perfect for sensitive teeth
  • Can cause digestive upset in some dogs
  • Contains a unique active ingredient
  • Not for puppies under 6 months of age
  • VOHC stamp of approval
  • Expensive
  • Helps reduce and fight plaque and tartar formations
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Final Verdict

Best teeth cleaning chews for dogs? The ones that work! And that will, of course, depend on the size and preferences of your dog.

We like the Savourlife Australian Natural Dental Bars because they are slightly tougher than other options, but they might be too tough for smaller dogs with gentle teeth. In that case, perhaps try something like Greenies.

FAQ

Are dental sticks good for dogs?

In short, yes, they usually are. The key is finding dental sticks made with quality ingredients and following the daily feeding guidelines. While they are usually beneficial to dogs, dental sticks are often not very nutritious and aren’t a substitute for a proper meal.

How often should I give my dog a dental stick?

Always follow the guidelines on the packaging of the dental sticks and never feed more than recommended. The recommended dose is usually one dental stick per day.

What is the best way to clean a dog's teeth?

The best way to clean a dog’s teeth at home is by brushing every day. However, that’s not always feasible, and some alternatives can help such as water additives, and yes, dental sticks. They do help but aren’t as effective as a toothbrush.

References

  1. McCalley, E. February 8, 2021. “Periodontal (Gum) Disease in Dogs”. PetMD. Retrieved May 25, 2022. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/mouth/c_multi_periodontal_disease
  2. Quest BW. Oral health benefits of a daily dental chew in dogs. J Vet Dent. 2013 Summer;30(2):84-7. doi: 10.1177/089875641303000203. PMID: 24006717.
  3. Danks, L. September 1, 2014. “The role of sodium polyphosphates”. Improve Veterinary Practice. Retrieved May 25, 2022. https://www.veterinary-practice.com/article/the-role-of-sodium-polyphosphates
  4. Scanian, N. March 12, 2019.  “9 nutrients for canine dental disease” Animal Wellness Magazine. Retrieved May 25, 2022. https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/nutrients-canine-dental-disease/
Vedrana Nikolic

Vedrana Nikolić is a professional writer, anthropologist & dog lover with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying the communication between animals and humans. Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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