How Do Dog Teeth Cleaning Toys Work?

June 8, 2022 // 17 minute read

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Your dog’s oral health is just as important as yours. When not properly taken care of, bad dental hygiene can lead to plaque and tartar buildup, periodontal disease, infections, and eventually, death. 

Brushing a dog’s teeth is the best way to keep your dog’s teeth clean. Daily brushing will help prevent food build-up that can develop into plaque and tartar when left alone. Unfortunately, brushing alone is not enough. 

The most reasonable compromise is a dog teeth-cleaning toy. Dog teeth-cleaning toys function the same as dog dental treats, but they are not edible. They are mostly designed to entertain dogs while taking care of their oral health. 

Since most dog owners don’t really like to encourage the chewing habit in their dogs, many are asking the question: Do dog teeth cleaning toys even work? Is it worth the money? 

The short answer is: YES! Dog teeth cleaning toys work, and they’re definitely with the money. And we’ll be discussing everything you want to know about it here. 

We’ll discuss: 

  • Why encourage chewing
  • How dog teeth cleaning toys work
  • Choosing the right chew toy for your dog
  • The best chew toys for dogs
  • And a whole lot more! 

If you’re interested to know more about how dog teeth cleaning toys work, read on… 

golden retriever with tennis ball in mouth
Photo by Julissa Helmuth on

Why Encourage Chewing

Let’s start this discussion by addressing many dog owners’ primary concern – chewing

Many dog owners don’t want to encourage chewing behavior in their dogs. This is mainly because it causes a lot of damage to furniture, shoes, and other important things inside your home. 

It’s frustrating, we know. However, what many dog owners may not also know is that dog chewing can also be helpful to dogs. You only need to give them the proper outlet or the right thing to chew on. 

Chew toys can: 

  1. Help relieve stress and anxiety
  2. Help teething puppies
  3. Provide mental stimulate
  4. Prevent destructive chewing
  5. Keep your pups occupied

But most of all, they promote dental health. But how do dog teeth cleaning toys work? That’s what we’ll answer next.

Related article: Hartz Chew n Clean Bacon Flavored Dog Chew Toy, Our (2022) Review

How Do Dog Teeth Cleaning Toys Work? 

The way dog teeth cleaning toys work isn’t really mind-blowing; it’s actually pretty simple. The act of chewing helps scrape off plaque and tartar build-up on your dog’s teeth, which means the more your dog chews, the more their teeth are cleaned. 

How well your dog’s teeth are cleaned will depend on the type of chew toy you get them. As much as possible, you should choose a dog toy with a surface that can really go through each of your dog’s teeth. 

Many chew toys come with lumps or some gaps so that the toy can reach your dog’s gum line. More dirt can be removed, which means lesser dental problems. 

Once you decide to buy your pup a teeth-cleaning toy to combine with professional dental care, the first thing you must look for in a product is the seal of approval from the relevant organization or government institution. The seal of approval guarantees that the product was tested in a laboratory to figure out if it has legitimate dental health benefits for a dog.

But does that mean when you find a seal of approval? Well, not exactly. There are still a lot of factors you’d need to consider, and we discuss them all below.

Related article: Fine-Pets Dog Chew Toothbrush, 2022 In-Depth Product Review 

Finding The Right Dog Teeth Cleaning Toy

The type of toy you get for your dog matters. And if you need a guide to finding the right kind of chew toy for your fur baby, here are some factors you might want to consider: 


The strength of your dog’s teeth or gums can vary significantly with his age. Pups generally have more sensitive teeth and gums than adult dogs, and it’s best to choose a soft chew toy, like a plush toy, as this is more gentle. 

Pups are also undergoing the teething stage, giving more importance to soft toys. Once they go past that, you can give them harder ones with more complicated designs to clean out the plaque or tartar build-up. 

Size and Weight

Like with age, you’d want to match the toy’s size and weight to your dog. 

Choosing a dog teeth cleaning toy that is too small will put your dog in a lot of danger as this can be a choking hazard. But if you choose a toy that is too big, you’ll only be giving your dog a hard time. 

The same goes with the weight; too heavy, and your dog won’t have much fun. 

Find the perfect balance for these two things to ensure that your dog has fun while also taking advantage of the toy’s teeth-cleaning properties. 


Like with anything you buy, you always want to get the most out of the money. That’s why you would want a dog teeth-cleaning toy that would last long. But does that mean you’d have to find a hard one? 

Not exactly. 

Durability doesn’t mean hard. The toy could still be made of soft rubber, yet it can endure whatever chewing your pup or dog does. 

On top of that, we don’t recommend buying very hard toys for your dog and turning them into chew toys. As tempting as it is, these toys can cause more damage to your dog’s teeth than help. 

When testing for durability, you can ask the following questions instead: 

  • What materials are used for the product? Are these materials durable? 
  • Are customers leaving positive testimonials regarding durability? 
  • Does the toy look like it’s cheaply made? 
  • Or does it appear sturdy and strong? 


Many dog owners don’t consider this factor, thinking that dogs wouldn’t mind whatever toy is given to them. That is far from the truth. 

First impressions matter to dogs. If they don’t feel attracted to the dog toy you bought them, they won’t go near it, and that’s a total waste of money.

Don’t let that happen to you. Always think about what your dog loves and consider that when choosing the style or design of the chew toy. You’re the one who knows your dog best, so you’ll definitely figure this one out. 

Chewing Habits

Dogs have different chewing habits. Some dogs are lighter chewers, while there are also dogs that are more aggressive. 

When dogs are aggressive chewers, you would want a soft but still durable toy so that it won’t hurt your dog no matter how long he chews on it. The durability also helps ensure that the toy can endure how much chewing your dog does. 


There are two things you need to look at when thinking about safety. 

First, materials. What materials are used for the toy? Are they toxic or not? Do in-depth research on the manufacturer and every material they used to make the toy. This helps ensure that your dog won’t be in any danger. After all, they’ll be chewing on this toy a lot. 

Second, choking hazards. Carefully examine the toy. Look at the details in the design to check if there are features that can be a choking hazard. If there are any, don’t buy that toy; you’ll only be endangering your dog’s health. 

Teeth-Cleaning Ability

The main point of getting a dog teeth-cleaning toy is to clean your dog’s teeth. So make sure to focus on finding one that can really do the job. 

A great toy you can choose is one that has thick and sturdy bristles. These bristles are designed to get between your dog’s teeth and remove all food build-up while your dog is chewing on them. Like this one below: 

There are many other variations. But the key here is to have a toy with gaps as these are the ones designed specifically for cleaning your dog’s teeth. 

You might also want to ask yourself the following questions:  

  1. How does the brand advertise the product? Is it really for dog teeth cleaning?
  2. If the brand advertises the product as a dog teeth cleaning toy, figure out how good it really is. Is it designed for only cleaning teeth or for complete dental care? 
  3. What are people saying about it? 
white dog with orange toy in mouth
Photo by Blue Bird on

The Best Chew Toys For Dogs

Considering the guide we have above, here are four types of dog chew toys you can get your dog right now… 

  • Kong-type Toys: Kongs are a classic, and dogs absolutely love them. 

These toys are specifically designed with dog chewing in mind. But they are also made for fetching, solo playing, tugging, or even foraging. In other words, they are specifically made to exercise a dog’s brain and keep him happy. 

A kong can come in any shape, but the most common one looks like three balls placed on top of each other. The toy has an opening below where you can fill different mixtures of food – dry kibble, peanut butter, and a whole lot more treats that your dog loves. 

Freeze the toy, and when it’s ready, you can give it to your dog to play with. The idea is for your pup to play with it while trying to get the food you put inside. 

  • Rubber bones: Ordinary bones can be too hard for your dog and may only damage their teeth more. 

But because dogs love bones, the next best thing you can offer them is rubber bones. Rubber bones are usually designed with some little bristles, so it’s almost like their teeth are getting brushed. 

  • Dog treat toy balls: These balls are designed with gaps or spaces that you can fill with dry kibbles or treats. Your dog will then chew on the ball until he can take all the treats. While their teeth go through the gaps or spaces, the bristles scrape off any food build-up. 

Those are only three types of toys you can get for your dog. But if you want a more comprehensive list, you can read our article “Best Toys To Clean Your Dog’s Teeth”

Dog Teeth-Cleaning Toys That Can Damage Your Dog’s Teeth

Now that we know what toys are good for cleaning your dog’s teeth, here’s a list of those that you probably should think twice before giving your dogs:

  • Bones: Bones have always been associated with dogs. We see it in movies, cartoons, and drawings. However, as much as the two are always together, and it’s undeniable that dogs love them, bones are not the best choice for a chew toy. 

Bones can be too hard for dogs to chew on. On top of that, when dogs play with bones, they focus too much on gnawing every last bit of tissue left that they hardly notice a crack in their tooth. 

Dogs can’t even complain about broken or damaged teeth. So they’ll just silently suffer from the pain, and by the time you notice, it might already be too late. The tooth may already be infected, which may have already spread inside their body. 

Some people may recommend fresh bones, but at best, you must stop giving your dog any type of bone. Aside from just tooth damage, bones can cause other damage, too, like getting trapped at the end of the lower jaw, intestinal blockage, and might even splinter or puncture their stomach. 

  • Tennis Balls: Tennis balls are another common toy for dogs to play with. They are often used in the game of fetch to help a dog stay active. 

However, as a dog owner, it’s best to ensure that your dog only fetches the tennis ball and does not chew on it. The fuzzy covering on the tennis balls can rub against your dog’s teeth, breaking down the enamel. When this happens, your dog’s dental sensitivity increases, which can be very painful. 

  • Sticks: Dogs love playing with sticks. They are actually the most accessible and probably the least expensive toy dogs can enjoy. 

However, as much as sticks are excellent for a game of fetch, they mustn’t be a toy for chewing. Sticks can cause a lot of problems for your dog. They can wedge between your dog’s teeth, puncture your dog’s mouth, or even damage a tooth. 

In other words, you should never let your dog chew on very hard objects. Stick to toys made of rubber and designed to really clean their teeth. 

Other Products That Can Help Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

Aside from dog teeth cleaning toys, there are more things that you can supplement teeth brushing with. This way, you won’t only have two weapons to tackle the dental problems of your dogs. 

Dental Treats

Dental treats function like dog teeth cleaning toys. The only difference is that they are edible. These treats scrape off any dirt and food build-up on your dog’s teeth as they chew. They also come in many flavors that dogs will surely love, which means dogs will enjoy biting on these snacks. 

Dental Wipes

Dental wipes are an excellent substitute for tooth brushing. 

If your dog doesn’t like their teeth being brushed every day, then maybe you can alternate between dental wipes and a toothbrush. This way, your dog won’t be stressed out a lot. 

With dental wipes, all you need to do is cover the tip of your index finger and carefully wipe each dog tooth. Try to reach the gum line to prevent periodontal disease and other infections. 

Dry Kibble

Dry kibble or dry food works well in scraping off the dirt and food stuck in between and on your dog’s teeth. This is why most dog owners prefer to offer their dogs dry food over wet food. 

Dental Sprays

Another way you can help your dog maintain their oral health is by using dental sprays. This is perfect for during the days when your dog is too afraid of the toothbrush, or he just won’t come to you at all.  

Dental sprays by simply spraying your dog’s teeth and gums, and then you’re done! It gets rid of the risk or possibility of your dog biting you. 

Water Additive

If your dog is so afraid of you that you can’t even go near to spray a dental spray, the next best thing would be an oral care water additive. All you need is to add the additive to your dog’s water bowl, and the additive will work wonders every time your dog takes a drink. 

Professional Dental Cleanings

Last but certainly not least, you need to bring your dog for professional dental cleanings. Like us, your dog’s teeth need to be checked by a vet at least once a year. 

With an annual dental cleaning, a vet can carefully check every part of your dog’s mouth to ensure no damages are hiding behind or between your dog’s teeth. This also helps ensure that your dog’s oral health is excellent. 


Are dog teeth cleaning toys good for dogs’ teeth? 

Yes, dog teeth cleaning toys are good for your dog’s teeth, given that you buy the right type or the dog teeth-friendly one. 

According to experts, chew toys effectively reduce oral bacteria in dogs by about 60%-70%. But as much as it is very effective, it can cause a lot of damage to your dog’s teeth if you choose the wrong type of toy. 

Remember to find a toy that isn’t too big or too small. It shouldn’t be too hard that the toy damages your dog’s teeth, but it also shouldn’t be too soft that the toy no longer works for teeth cleaning. 

Use the guide we have above to find the right toy for your dog. 

How can I clean plaque off my dog’s teeth? 

The best way to clean the plaque off your dog’s teeth is by brushing or through professional dental cleaning. But since professional dental cleanings can be too expensive to do every month and brushing can become challenging at times, you need to supplement with other ways to clean your dog’s teeth: 

  • Dental treats
  • Dental wipes
  • Dog-teeth cleaning toys

Only to name a few. 

Do dogs really need their teeth cleaned? 

Yes, dogs need to get their teeth cleaned.  

Just like us, dogs are susceptible to dental diseases. You must regularly clean their teeth to prevent the accumulation of bacteria, plaque build-up, periodontal disease, and infections that can be fatal once it spreads inside their body. 

As you can see, bad breath is not the only thing to worry about when we talk about dental problems. There’s a lot more you have to worry about, but thankfully, a simple teeth cleaning can help prevent that. 

Are hard toys bad for dog teeth? 

Yes, hard toys are bad for dog teeth? As much as possible, go for toys that are not too hard that your dog loses a tooth or damages one. 

Final Thoughts

Dog teeth cleaning toys work. But, you need to find a toy that your dog will surely love but, at the same time, won’t damage his teeth. Here are a few reminders on how to ensure your dog stays safe with his chew toy. 

  1. Keep an eye on your dog to ensure that he doesn’t choke. 
  2. Buy flexible or bendable toys, so it doesn’t damage your dog’s teeth. 
  3. Encourage your dogs to chew on treats or toys for at least 10 minutes a day to help control plaque. 
  4. Chew toys that can stimulate your dog’s brain are excellent. The perfect example is the Kong toy, a chew toy where you can put peanut butter and kibbles inside for your dog to find. 
  5. Avoid giving bones, tennis balls, antlers, sticks, and any other toy that can be too hard for your dog. 

The main goal of buying dog teeth cleaning toys is to help keep your pet’s teeth clean in the most convenient and fun way possible. So make sure that when choosing a toy, you pick one that your dog will love and is designed to really clean his teeth.

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