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I bought Whimzees originally looking for a healthy chew that was safe and long lasting. Silly me--now it seems every long lasting chew requires supervision in order to prevent splinter ingestion or a choking hazard. So I sat and watched her eat her first Whimzee today, and she ate it super happily in about 5 minutes or less. I read that Greenies are softer than this brand, but at this point, I just want her teeth to be as clean as possible via non-confrontational methods, and the chewing can come in the form of an antler potentially.

So my question is, which dental chew is a) the healthiest in terms of dental hygiene, and b) the most affordable. (My main concern is hygiene, but if research proves the answer to be mixed, there has to be a secondary deciding factor, and since this kind of treat is going to be a small part of her currently flexible diet, I'm not going to poke huge wholes in ingredient lists as long as they're decent.)
 

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Im a raw feeder so my dogs have bone which keeps their teeth clean , we tried a greenie given as a gift and Murphy puked it up all over the rug...
Im not keen on any of the commercial dental chews I dont think they can replace good food and regualr dental checks..
My dogs have theirs every Sunday along with eye and ear checks paws and nails.. Its only a 5 minute game but it gives me a chance to spot any problems early on and gets them used to a vet exam.
 

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If you're willing and able to do it, a raw meaty bone is probably the best edible chew for tooth cleaning. You'll need to figure out what kinds are right for your dogs and their chewing style, and be aware that some dogs do guard raw bones more than other types of goodies, but they do work nicely for dental hygiene so long as you do your research. You have to listen to your dog, though. It's rare for my boys to get anything bigger than a chicken thigh - which go down pretty quickly, even with smaller dogs - because my older dog can't have much bone in his diet without getting constipated. Sometimes as a compromise we'll do leg bones with meat and tissue still attached, since they're too hard for him to actually consume much bone, but because they're harder they're supervision only. The moment he stops pulling off tissue or gently gnawing and starts trying to actually crack into the bone, they go into the trash because that can crack a tooth. Lots of dogs can have a meaty bone without the digestive issues though, he's just gotten prone to constipation as he's gotten older.

Most chews that last a long time in this house aren't things that I expect to be especially good at cleaning teeth. Cow and sheep hooves are the most popular here.

They do get Pedigree Dentastix as an occasional treat, but we don't really expect them to do much to their teeth, honestly. You can check out the Veterinary Oral Health Council (Veterinary Oral Health Council Accepted Products for Cats and Dogs) to see what pet dental products have actually been tested and approved by them as having a positive impact on oral health, but really nothing - not even the raw bones - is going to be as effective as brushing regularly. There are ways to teach a dog to accept brushing if you want to go that route.
 

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That looks like an awesome resource, and I'm going to save it for when I'm ready to take on a more serious dental care regiment for Dot. (I'm building up to it--so I appreciate all the information I can get at this stage.)

At this point, I'm thinking her Kong with a little bit of peanut butter is safer unsupervised and will keep her busy even after the peanut butter smidge is gone (wishful thinking might work in my favor in that regard).

Right now I'm giving her small kibble sized treats for clicker training, along with the daily Whimzee, along with her food. I feel like something has to be dropped treat-wise for peanut butter in the Kong to be added in? She looks to me to be part chihuahua, part Jack Russell terrier, and she is a heck of a chewer, which adds another layer of concern. She's pretty respectful towards me in regards to taking away unsafe treats, but I could see her getting defensive over something as exciting as a raw bone. That said, I'm not even sure where to get raw bones for her. I just checked the couple of big grocery stores in my area that deliver to my house (I live kinda far out and don't drive), and nothing popped up. Where do you acquire your dog's raw bones?

I'd happily try the raw bones instead of the dental chews until I figure out how to properly transition into cleaning her teeth regularly myself. (Vet visits involving grooming/hygiene are another thing due to her anxiety, which will be a separate investigation happening in the next month or so.)
 

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Look into Cooperative Care training - it's a great way to work with any dog, but especially one who's difficult with handling/husbandry things like grooming. There's a free facebook group that can help out with the basics called Cooperative Care by Deb Jones, and the person in the title has both a book and online classes/workshops at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. The basic concept is you teach the dog a 'consent' behavior, so that they have the power to end the scary or uncomfortable handling at any time. Knowing they can choose not to participate in the training and that their handler will respect that makes animals a lot more willing to participate. It's used a lot in zoos these days - definitely an awesome tool to have.

There's a lot of tricks you can use to help avoid piling on treat calories with a small dog! The general rule I've seen is that you can replace about 1/4 of a dog's daily food intake with treats without worrying about nutritional imbalances, but if you have a day every so often where she gets a ton of treats because you're going to a class or really working on some training, it's no big deal to just cut back on a meal, or cut it out entirely. My dogs usually get two meals a day, but when I'm doing weekly classes, the dog I'm taking will only get a tiny dinner - enough so they don't take my fingers off in class, but probably only a sixth or so of their usual meal.

If you're good at planning ahead, you can portion out a small amount of her daily kibble and soak it in water, use that to stuff a kong, and freeze it. Whatever filling you use though, freezing a Kong makes it last longer. My favorite trick with my food-motivated dogs is to just use their kibble for training - or get a different brand/flavor and pretend it's treats. Sometimes we even use cat kibble. That way I know their 'treats' are still pretty balanced and healthy, but because it's different than their 'everyday' kibble, they think it's exciting. Doesn't always work with dogs who aren't super into food though. I'll also do a 'trail mix' where I mix kibble with more exciting, stinkier treats (like dried hot dog) so that everything smells more exciting.

As for raw bones, I get mine either from the pet store (frozen raw and fresh food section - though price and availability can vary a lot depending on your region), the supermarket (sometimes Asian or other import markets have more diverse cuts of meat for cheaper), or my in-laws (hunters). Chicken is really easy for a lot of dogs to learn how to eat, and pretty much the entire bird has bones soft enough that you don't have to worry about them (raw, of course chicken bones get super dangerous and splinter-y when cooked!). All you have to look out for is avoiding chicken at the supermarket that's had saline pumped into it as a 'flavor enhancer'. Not going to be a huge problem if it's a rare treat, but too much salt to be giving all the time. But because chicken is easy, it's not always the best tooth cleaner. Pretty safe though, and most dogs tolerate skinless chicken parts well, and you can always up the challenge by feeding it frozen.

Neck, ribs, tail, and even feet are often better at teeth cleaning because they're a real challenge. All raw pork should be frozen solid for at least a month prior to feeding - stuff you get from the pet stores should've already been through that and is fine. I do occasionally feed legs, but only under careful supervision. Weight bearing bones can be really dense - even turkey legs are pretty darn hard - and I only let my boys chew until they've gotten most of the meat and tissue off. If they really start cracking into those bones, they're likely to crack a tooth instead. Honestly I only use them because I get deer and moose leg sections free from my FiL and BiL during hunting season. Turkey necks are pretty good though, if you can find them!

I suggest you do some reading on raw feeding before starting, especially prey model raw since a lot of people who feed it use various meats and cuts from the supermarket. It'll give you a bit of an idea what to expect, what meats to look for, and common mistakes to avoid, like feeding a bunch of skin to a dog who isn't used to it. Or feeding your dog somewhere not easy to clean up... you do not want your dog jumping on your couch with a raw turkey wing. I use a crate or towel (for the older dog, who is actually trained to stay on the towel while eating) these days.
 

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I don't use any commercial dog dental cleaning products either. I have large dogs so there is more flexibility calorie wise.
As noted by other posters.. raw bones (non weight bearing) are best and raw feeding of mixes with ground bone (to balance Ca/P ratios) really help keep teeth very clean. I feed either a raw chicken breast or chicken leg quarter for breakfast (whole, bone in) and then a raw mix at night. Once or twice a week I give a raw bone. My go to (since it is available from my Raw dealer) has been Rib bones. Neck bones are also sometimes available at the super market and they are usually cut so appropriate for small dogs and puppies but not so good for large dogs.

Also as noted.. any access to hunters can be a supply of good raw bones from deer and elk.. etc.
 

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himalayan yak chews, deer antlers, and uncooked raw bones.
 
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