Last month we explained that dental chews known to reduce plaque or tartar on a dog’s teeth will contain a seal from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC.com). On the flip side, there are many “chews” out there that are positively unsafe for dogs.
“We see a lot of fractured teeth from bones — cooked and raw — and also from antlers, cow hooves, Himalayan yak chews, hard nylon ‘bones,’ and ice,” says veterinary dentist Bonnie Shope, VMD, a member of the Your Dog editorial board and president of the American Veterinary Dental College™. “We advise clients to only offer chews that can be indented by a fingernail.”
People sometimes like to give their dog something to gnaw on for hours, Dr. Shope adds, “but there are no great safe chew toys that last all day, aside from durable rubber toys. Even products like tennis balls are very abrasive and can wear down the teeth. In some cases, a toy chewed for hours causes pulp exposure in dogs that are obsessed with their favorite ball or toy.” That can lead to pain and infection. Exposed pulp allows harmful bacteria to enter the tooth. Also unsafe to chew, Dr. Shope says: rubber balls that are small enough to pose a choking hazard by being able to make it past the mouth but not the throat.