The Dental Chew For Dogs Recommended By A Certified Veterinary Dentist

Dr. Bert Gaddis has been practicing veterinary medicine for nearly 40 years and is one of only 200 Board-Certified animal dental specialists in the United States. When we learned his favorite dental chew for dogs is iHeartDogs’ very own AgriChew™, we had to get in touch and learn more!

Dr. Gaddis has two dogs of his own, including a 12-year-old Lab named Lulu he describes as a “chewing machine.” After years of watching her gnaw through Nylabones in a matter of hours, the doggy dentist stumbled upon the AgriChew™. He was intrigued by its original purpose as a shock-absorbing part for irrigation equipment, figuring if anything could hold up to Lulu’s super-chewing, this was it!

“It’s durable yet appears to be safe,” Dr. Gaddis told iHeartDogs. “My dog has gone through three or four dozen in three years with no damage to her teeth.”

Dr. Gaddis believes so strongly in the AgriChew™ he recommends it to his dental clients and students at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. As the owner of Animal Dental Specialists in Pelham, Alabama, Dr. Gaddis believes that proper oral hygiene is one of the foundations of overall canine health. We spoke with him about dental health as well as the best dental chews for dogs.

An Interview with Dr. Gaddis

iHeartDogs: Why is oral health so important for dogs?

Dr. Gaddis: Surveys show that 70 – 75% of dogs over the age of three already have periodontal disease. Bacteria in the mouth is just a few cell layers away from the bloodstream, where it can spread to the organs. I have seen this happen in dogs as young as 18 months.

iHeartDogs: How can I tell if my dog is having dental pain?

Dr. Gaddis: Most dogs are stoic, so it is important for owners to do frequent oral checks. Establishing a daily or every other day brushing routine is the perfect opportunity to gauge your dog’s comfort level. Plaque hardens to tartar in 48 – 72 hours. You want to get it off your dog’s teeth before that starts to happen.

iHeartDogs: Any tips for dogs that hate brushing?

Dr. Gaddis: Reward them frequently. Brush for 30 seconds, then give them a treat and repeat. Some of my clients give the meat-flavored toothpaste as a treat, then brush their pup’s teeth. Just getting the toothpaste in your dog’s mouth is beneficial because it mixes with the saliva, spreads through the mouth, and helps kill bacteria.

iHeartDogs: Can tooth damage from periodontal disease be reversed?

Dr. Gaddis: You cannot reverse bone loss. The teeth can be cleaned to remove plaque and tartar and make the mouth more comfortable, but without treatment, damaged teeth will continue to decay, leading to further infection and tooth loss.

iHeartDogs: Can periodontal disease become life-threatening?

Dr. Gaddis: Unchecked bacteria from periodontal disease can eventually cause organ damage such as heart disease, kidney failure, and liver issues. Intervention may slow the progress, but like bone loss, organ damage typically cannot be reversed.

iHeartDogs: While nothing can replace professional preventive dental care, what can I do besides brushing to help keep my dog’s mouth healthy?

Dr. Gaddis: The grinding and gnawing action dogs get from a good dental chew helps clean tartar off their teeth. Just be sure to choose something durable enough not to pose a choking hazard but flexible enough not to damage your dog’s teeth. I like AgriChews because they last for weeks rather than hours. I’ve been using them with my dogs for years, and they have never damaged their teeth. 

How To Choose Safe Dental Chews For Dogs

Dogs love to chew, but it is a common misconception that their dental chews need to be extremely hard to be durable. Carnivore teeth are not designed for chewing hard bones, and doing so can lead to dental fractures. In the wild, the bones of a fresh kill are far softer than bones you can purchase at pet shops. Plus, there are other health concerns that come from choosing real bones.

For a safe chewing experience, choose dental chews with some “give” to them. You should be able to indent the surface with your fingernail and bounce the toy off your knee pain-free. Additionally, dental chews for dogs should not be abrasive to the mouth or hard enough to drive a nail—you want a power toy, not a power tool!

The AgriChew™ Dental Chew For Dogs

The AgriChew™  dog toy was invented by Mark Smith, who runs a dog-friendly agricultural machinery business. One of the family dogs became bored during a meeting, and Smith gave him a shock-absorbing part from their irrigation equipment. The pup happily started chewing, and the AgriChew™ was born!

It’s the dental chew for dogs that’s tough enough for extreme chewers yet made from pet-safe flexible TPU material (Thermoplastic polyurethane). The AgriChew™ is not only safe and fun to chew, it also makes a great fetch toy and features an unpredictable bounce dogs go nuts for. You can even use it to help fight separation anxiety and destructive chewing by placing a creamy treat like peanut butter in the center hole. Freeze it to make the licking and chewing fun last for hours!

Before we wrapped things up with Dr. Gaddis, we asked him one final question: Do you have any additional advice to help our readers advocate for their dogs’ dental health?

“Make sure your vet checks your dog’s mouth every time they see your dog,” he said. “Many popular dog breeds have gotten smaller through selective breeding, but their teeth remain the same size. This leads to crowding, which leads to tartar buildup, plaque formation, and periodontal disease.”

You heard it from one of the leading experts in animal dentistry: check them often, brush them daily, and treat them to high-quality dental chews for happier, healthier dog teeth!

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