Hygiene

Best Dental Treats For Cats: For Dental Hygiene, Fresh Breath, & Tarter Build Up

Did you receive poor feedback about your cat's dental health at their latest checkup? Cats are prone to gingivitis and periodontis, oral care an important task for overall health. But, if brushing your cats teeth feels more like pulling teeth, you might need to explore other options. Try these dental treats for top marks on your feline's next dental exam.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: July 26, 2023 | 9 min read

person giving a cat a dental stick

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Did you know that you should be brushing your cat’s teeth? Oral health is closely related to overall wellbeing. Poor oral hygiene allows bacteria to multiply, enter the bloodstream, and spread throughout the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, oral bacteria and inflammation can contribute to several severe health conditions, including heart disease, kidney issues, and respiratory diseases. So why do cat parents view dental care as optional? Well, it’s likely because you figure your cat would never ever let you brush their teeth.

Sure, taking care of your cat’s dental hygiene can be difficult, but it’s a pretty essential part of pet care. If left to their own devices, bacteria in the mouth will flourish and leave behind a sticky, acidic film—what we know as plaque. If not removed with a brush or abrasive material, plaque will harden to form tartar. The presence of plaque and tartar can lead to bad breath, swollen gums, oral pain, and even tooth loss.

For those that can’t brush their cat’s teeth (hi, it’s me), dental treats offer a solution for oral care in between professional cleanings. Looking for the best dental treats for cats? From hard and soft chews to powders and sticks, these cat-friendly dental bites will help keep your kitty’s pearly whites in tip-top condition.

Best Dental Treats At A Glance:

VetriScience Perio Plus Feline Bites
Our Rating

Best Overall

VetriScience Perio Plus Feline Bites

Emerald Pet Feline Dental Stixx
Our Rating

Best For Fresh Breath

Emerald Pet Feline Dental Stixx

Dr. Petra Catzzle Dental Chews
Our Rating

Best For Tartar & Plaque

Dr. Petra Catzzle Dental Chews

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What Are Dental Treats?

Dental treats are typically chewables that help remove tartar and plaque build-up on your pet’s teeth. As cats are not natural chewers, finding a product that requires your cat to gnaw on it can help clean the teeth. This is especially true for those hard-to-reach back teeth. The best dental treats for cats will be hard to polish the teeth while your cat’s chewing.

In addition, a dental treat may add extra ingredients to promote a healthy oral microbiome and fresh breath. Typical ingredients include friendly bacteria called “probiotics,” greens (such as alfalfa, spirulina, or wheatgrass), and pet-safe antibacterials. (Read our article on colloidal silver for more antibacterial options for cats.)

Do Cats Need Dental Treats?

Some cats won’t tolerate brushing. Products like powders, rinses, gels, and dental chews can make a huge difference in oral health for these kitties. While nothing beats brushing, dental treats are a reasonable alternative to regularly brushing your cat’s teeth.

Buying Guide: Things To Consider

There are many varieties of kitty dental snacks on the market. Before shelling out for various treats, it helps to know your cat’s needs and preferences. The best dental treats for cats are what your cat will actually eat. Consider the following factors:

  1. Goals: Does your kitty do a great job of chewing on feline-friendly toys but needs support for fresh breath? Or does your cat need a complete overhaul regarding their dental routine? Different treats will feature ingredients for gum health, remineralization, fresh breath, and more.
  2. Safety hazards: Consider potential risks or health conditions when picking out a cat treat. For example, hard treats could be a potential choking risk if your cat has difficulty chewing. Alternatively, if your cat has diabetes, thyroid disease, or another health condition, not all treats will be suitable.
  3. Price: Consider what you’re willing to pay for cat dental treats. Some treats will cost more based on their ingredient list, so this is another reminder to consider your goals when selecting a dental chewy.

Best Dental Treats For Cats

Best Overall: VetriScience Perio Plus Feline Bites

VetriScience Perio Plus Feline Bites
  • Chicken flavor
  • Support healthy teeth and gums, control plaque and tartar, and promote fresh breath
  • Grain-free, gluten-free, and made from quality ingredients
  • Free of synthetic colors, preservatives, and artificial flavors
  • Veterinarian-formulated and recommended, NASC quality certified
  • Made in the USA
  • 100% satisfaction, money-back guarantee

 

The VetriScience Perio Plus Feline Bites cover all cat parents’ concerns regarding feline’s dental health: plaque and tartar control, healthy teeth and gums, and fresh breath. The flower-shaped dental bites are designed with two layers. The outer, crunchy portion is infused with spirulina, parsley, and cinnamon to promote clean teeth and fresh breath. The inner core contains ingredients to promote overall oral health. These ingredients include zeolite earth minerals that inhibit biofilm formation (including plaque) and probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria to prevent oral issues, including gingivitis, periodontitis, bad breath, and tooth decay.

Let’s look at what else makes these dental chews the best overall:

  • Crunchy texture strengthens jaw and removes tartar and plaque build-up
  • Probiotics promote good bacteria in the mouth for overall dental health
  • Chlorophyll from spirulina and parsley supports fresh breath
  • Anise oil kills cavity-causing bacteria, prevents plaque build-up, supports gums, and freshens breath
  • Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory yucca contains calcium, phosphorus, and potassium for musculoskeletal health, including teeth and gums
  • Cranberry prevents bacteria sticking to teeth and gums, preventing the growth of plaque-producing bacteria
  • CoEnzyme Q10 helps break down food bites
  • Zinc and taurine support gum health

As with any treat, there will be some negative feedback. Some reviewers complained that the chews were too hard for their cats to chew. Keep this feedback in mind if your cat has sensitive teeth. Pet parents got around this by breaking the bites into smaller pieces. For elderly cats or those this sensitive teeth, I’d recommend trying the VetriScience Perio Support Dental Powder instead.

Personal Experience with VetriScience Perio Plus Feline Bites

My cats love these chicken-flavored hard chews, and at seven calories per bite, this treat won’t disrupt their vet-imposed diet. The size and hard texture force my cats to actually chew the bite instead of swallowing it whole. This is perfect because the treats include pumice that gently polishes the teeth for a good clean.

Hand holding VetriScience Perio Plus Feline Bites and cat eating them

Best For Fresh Breath: Emerald Pet Feline Dental Stixx

Emerald Pet Feline Dental Stixx
  • Available in four flavors: catnip, chicken, salmon, and tuna
  • Free of grains, gluten, dairy, and soy
  • Free of artificial ingredients, colors, and flavors
  • Shape and texture encourage chewing to remove tartar and plaque build-up
  • Ridges help get between teeth
  • Chlorophyll from alfalfa to support fresh breath
  • Small business and made in the USA

If you’re looking for a dental treat that cleans teeth and targets fresh breath, consider Emerald Pet’s Feline Dental Stixx. This product uses simple yet effective natural ingredients to reduce plaque and freshen breath. The product is cylinder-shaped and features ridges that help buff hard-to-reach spots in the mouth. The treat is extra-hard to promote chewing. Chewing strengthens the jaw and acts as an abrasive to remove tartar and plaque build-up.

These treats are infused with alfalfa—a natural source of chlorophyll—to promote fresh breath. For those needing a refresher from fifth-grade science class, chlorophyll is a natural compound found in plants that help plants absorb energy from the sun (photosynthesis). Chlorophyll also gives plants their green color. Chlorophyll has many health benefits for humans and pets, including its ability to function as an internal deodorizer. Supplementing chlorophyll can detoxify the body and promote fresh breath for animals like cats, who don’t tend to eat leafy greens.

As with other hard chewies on this list, the main complaint about this treat is its texture. Some cats won’t (or can’t) go for a hard treat. For picky eaters, consider the catnip flavor to entice your furry friend into trying this treat.

Best For Removing Tartar & Plaque: Dr. Petra Catzzle Dental Chews

Dr. Petra Catzzle Dental Chews
  • Available in two varieties: Urinary Tract Health (chicken flavor) and Hairball Control (salmon flavor)
  • Free of synthetic colors, preservatives, and artificial flavors
  • Treats can snap together and act as a toy to promote hunting instinct
  • Promotes chewing to strengthen jaw and teeth, while cleaning teeth
  • Surrounds your cat’s teeth on all sides to help reduce plaque and tartar build-up
  • Chlorophyll from spirulina to support fresh breath
  • Formulas include beta glucans for immune support

For a treat that really gets your cat chewing, try Dr. Pertra’s Cattzle dental snacks. Cattzle dental chews offer three-in-one support for your cat, supporting dental care, health support (urinary tract health or hairball control), and promoting your cat’s natural hunting instinct. These porous dental treats surround your cat’s teeth on all sides to help reduce plaque and tartar, even in hard-to-reach places. The puzzle structure of these treats makes them connectable to form a wand-like toy to stimulate your cat’s interest further.

Cattzle comes in two varieties. The urinary tract formula contains chitosan to support the kidneys, cranberry to fight bacteria and supports urinary health, and dl-methionine to prevent stone formation and reduce urine odor. The hairball control treat contains fiber from psyllium husks and the enzyme papain to help move hairballs through the intestinal tract. It also features catnip oil to prevent hairballs and biotin and zinc to reduce excessive shedding.

While these treats had good feedback overall, some reviewers complained that their cats weren’t interested. As these are more expensive than other options on the list, you may want to try a different option before shelling out for these sticks.

Personal Experience With Cattzles

I purchased the salmon-flavored hairball control Cattzles for my cats, and they went absolutely feral for these treats. They fought for a stick, each holding one side of the treat and tugging it between them. Of course, all cats are different, and your cat may not be as food-driven as mine. Most complaints from reviewers revolve around cats showing no interest in the treat.

Personal Experience With Cattzles sitting on a table and cat sniffing one

Best Soft Chew: ProDen PlaqueOff®

ProDen PlaqueOff
  • Made from sustainably harvested Scandinavian kelp
  • Prevents new plaque from forming and softens existing tartar
  • Chlorophyll from kelp to support fresh breath
  • Clinically proven to support whiter, cleaner teeth and fresher breath in 6-8 weeks
  • Appropriate for elderly pets or those with sensitive teeth
  • VOHC approved
  • Eco-friendly company
  • Also available in hard chew and powder

The story of PlaqueOff® began in the 1970s. Swedish dentist Dr. Sune Wikner discovered that one of his patients with chronic tartar formation suddenly had drastically improved oral health. Upon investigation, Wikner discovered that this pet had been consuming kelp regularly. Years later, the connection between kelp and oral health continued to be explored, and ProDen PlaqueOff® was created.

The PlaqueOff® soft chew is a great option for cats who can’t or won’t eat a hard treat. The kelp in this formula has been clinically shown to control plaque and tartar and improve bad breath.

ProDen PlaqueOff® meets the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC) standards for effectiveness in preventing plaque and tartar and has many positive reviews for its line of dental-care products. Some reviewers say their pets weren’t interested in the soft chews, so picky eaters might benefit more from the PlaqueOff® powder, which can be mixed into food. These treats are not suitable for cats with hyperthyroidism or others on a restricted-iodine diet

Best Powder: Wysong DentaTreat

Wysong DentaTreat
  • Calcium-rich ingredients to help remineralize and strengthen teeth
  • Probiotics to promote good bacteria in the mouth for overall dental health
  • Prebiotics to support bacteria
  • Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory aloe vera helps reduce gingivitis, dry mouth, and plaque accumulation
  • Enzymes break down food
  • Non-abrasive and safe for sensitive teeth
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Family-owned and made in the USA

For extra-picky cats that need dental support, look no further than Wysong’s DentaTreat. In addition to oral-supporting probiotics and minerals, DentaTreat includes low-lactose cheeses like Swiss and cheddar for an irresistible taste. This natural formula helps prevent tooth decay, remineralizes teeth, and discourages the growth of bacteria that cause plaque build-up and bad breath.

For maximum effectiveness, Wysong recommends sprinkling DentaTreat onto a plate or flat surface for your pet to lick up or applying DentaTreat directly to your cat’s teeth. Alternatively, you can also sprinkle DentaTreat onto your cat’s food.

While DentaTreat can be an effective snack for your cat, it does contain some lactose. As most cats have some level of lactose intolerance, your cat may experience gas and diarrhea depending on their sensitivity to dairy.

Best Natural: Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Minnows

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Minnows
  • Made from 100% raw, wild-caught minnows
  • Source of protein
  • Contains omega-3s for healthy skin and coat
  • Appropriate for raw diet
  • Cleans teeth and gums through natural abrasion while chewing
  • Promotes chewing to strengthen jaws and teeth
  • Sourced and made in the USA

Vital Essential’s freeze-dried raw minnows are another excellent option for picky kitties. These crunchy, freeze-dried minnows are high-value treats that offer a natural abrasion while chewing for clean teeth and gums. These treats are acceptable for felines on a raw diet and have overwhelmingly positive reviews. Cats love them!

Minnows are a quality protein source and contain other bioavailable nutrients for your furry friend. They are also a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support your cat’s heart, brain, eyes, skin, and coat.

Fish top the list of food allergens in cats (along with beef, chicken, and dairy), so keep that in mind when feeding this treat to your cat. Several reviewers said that while their cats love these treats, they would get sick after eating them. Other reviewers said the minnows were too hard. If your cat has sensitive teeth, you should consider a different option.

Personal Experience With Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Minnows

These treats are very crunchy and take the longest for my cats to eat out of all the dental treats I’ve purchased. Some reviewers said their cat couldn’t stomach these treats but mine have never had a problem. My favorite way to serve these snacks is actually as a meal topper.

Package of Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Minnows next to cat eating one on a mat of food

Best Flavor Selection: Feline Greenies

Feline Greenies
  • Available in catnip, chicken, salmon, and shrimp flavor
  • Crunchy texture helps reduce plaque
  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Vet-recommended, and VOHC approved
  • Less than 2 calories per treat
  • Less expensive than other options
  • Cat favorite

You’ve likely come across Feline Greenies when searching for dental treats for your feline companion. Cats go crazy for Greenies; at two calories per bite, they won’t ruin your cat’s appetite either. Greenies come in four cat-friendly flavors: roasted chicken, savory salmon, tempting tuna, and catnip.

If appropriately eaten, Greenies maintain healthy teeth and gums. Their crunchy texture scrapes plaque and tartar off teeth. Unfortunately, cats love them so much that they might hoover them down without chewing enough to get results.

Greenies are high in carbohydrates and contain meals, gluten, and cheap filler ingredients. While they contain vitamin and minerals, I’d prefer to see food-based instead of synthetic nutrients for best absorption. While these don’t top the list of best dental treats overall, they are still an option for picky cats.

Best Budget: Purina DentaLife

Purina DentaLife
  • Available in chicken or salmon flavor
  • Crunchy, porous texture to surround and clean teeth
  • Helps reduce plaque and tartar build-up
  • Contains Bacillus Coagulans probiotic
  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Made in the USA
  • VOHC accepted
  • Budget friendly

VOHC-accepted Dentalife are flavorful, crunchy treats that are big enough to force your cat to chew rather than eat them whole. Purina formulated its Dentalife treats to have a porous texture that allows your cat’s tooth to penetrate the treat, surrounding the tooth on all sides to help remove tartar. Dentalife Advanced Care includes the Bacillus Coagulans probiotic strain for additional oral support.

While this treat is an economical option, I’d consider it more of a cat junk food since it contains grains, meals, and other filler ingredients. Some reviewers also noted that their cats were sick after eating these treats.

DentaLife chews contain synthetic vitamins and minerals instead of food-based, which would be a the better choice. Purina is also owned by mega-conglomerate Nestle, which has been criticized for its unethical business practices and human exploitation. (Learn more about Nestle in our Purina One and Purina Pro Plan cat food reviews.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Dental Treats Effective?

Dental treats can be an effective option for supporting your cat’s oral health. Effectiveness depends on the formula and your cat’s specific needs.

Are Dental Treats Safe?

Like any food, your cat may be sensitive to an ingredient in dental treats. Always start small when trying new snacks with your cat to see how they respond. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian.

My Cat Won’t Eat Dental Treats. What Can I Do?

Cats are super picky and may not go for any of the best dental treats for cats. Remember, your first line of defense against dental diseases is brushing. Consider a water additive if your cat won’t allow brushing and isn’t a fan of dental treats. Another option is to buy fresh wheatgrass or grow cat grass for your kitty to munch on. These greens can promote fresh breath and proper digestion.

Final Thoughts

Of course, you want your cat to be happy and healthy, which includes practicing good oral hygiene. My top choice for the best dental treats for cats are the VetriScience Perio Plus Feline Bites. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for dental care, including pastes, sprays, water additives, wipes, and dental treats. Consider a few options alongside professional cleanings and cat dental insurance for the best oral health.

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