Dogs love to chew, and chewing is a perfectly normal behavior.
Puppies chew when teething. Dogs chew for stimulation, to relieve anxiety and just for fun.
Left to their own devices, Dogs may choose to chew sticks, furniture or your favorite pair of shoes. Whether or not you like it, your dog would benefit from chewing on things that are safe and healthy.
Things to chew
There are Three main categories of dog chews that are marketed for your best friend.
- Organic un-treated bones and antlers
- Hard rubber/plastic bones like Nylabones
- Animal parts that are treated like rawhide and pigs ears.
Lets start with Bones and Antlers.
Face it, Dogs have been chewing on Raw bones since, well, since they were wolves. That being said, our breeding of dogs to suit our needs and purposes has given some dogs an advantage or disadvantage of chewing on bones. Bones that we offer our dogs have also changed and it would be unlikely that a wild dog would find a nice slice of a cattle leg bone to chew on.
Bones slices can be dangerous and one of the biggest mistakes dog owners can make when choosing any kind of chewing “toy” for their dog is that they provide bones / chews that are to small or become too small quickly. Hollow or marrow filled leg bones can also splinter and cause damage to your dogs mouth, throat and/ or intestinal track. If you are dead set on giving your dogs cattle leg bones you are best to use joint or “knuckle” bones as they are less likely to entrap your dogs jaw and are a little harder to splinter.
Antlers seem to be the new fad at this time and there are now a few choices :
- Ram/water buffalo: of these choices, Ram horns are the newest on the market. Not really antlers as they do not naturally shed, Ram horns are more like bones, and are known to splinter.
- Deer: As many deer are harvested yearly, deer antlers can be readily available. However, Deer Antlers are the softest and can be quickly and easily eaten by a heavy chewer
- Elk: Elk antlers are a better choice, but are known to splinter
- Moose: Moose Antlers are denser making them the hardest and the ones that I prefer to give my dogs. Like Deer and Elk, Moose antlers are naturally shed and consist of pure calcium. Moose antlers get worn down as the dog chews on them. I have never had one break or splinter.
- If you want your pets new Antler to last longer, purchase large pieces and not the “splits”. All antlers that are split, are easier for the dogs to destroy.
Hard Rubber / Nylabones
There are quite a few different brands of these Hard Rubber bones. Some dogs will not have anything to do with them, others love them.
Because I live in a multi dog family, I find that these can be left around and are unlikely to cause any conflicts among the pack. I have also found that the brand Nylabones are the ones preferred by my dogs over any generic brands.
It is likely that my dogs like to chew on these because when new dogs are first introduced to my house and the pack, I encourage the chewing on these by replacing any inappropriate thing the new dog is chewing on with a nylabone. Nylabones hold up under heavy chewing, wear down, and do not splinter. Stick with types that are molded into one piece and avoid ones that are attached in halves, as they can be chewed apart leaving small attachment pieces that can be swallowed.
Rawhide, pigs ears, bully sticks
Of all the things that you can give your dogs, this category can be the most dangerous. Due to the amount and type of preservatives that some manufacturers choose to use in the making of these products, pet owners should look carefully at labels. Often these products are bought by bulk in stores and sold with out labels. Formaldehyde is one of the key preservatives used and when fed to dogs continuously can cause some serious health problems. Because these things are almost always completely eaten, they should be considered part of the dogs daily caloric intake / diet. Please only purchase rawhide, pigs ears and bully sticks in packaging that allows you to see the ingredients including preservatives used.
Rawhide, Pigs ears and Bully sticks are made from dry, dehydrated animal parts. During the chewing process, it is common for large pieces to be chewed off and be swallowed, and due to the preservatives, the digestibility of these products are poor, therefore these products should only be fed in moderation and under supervision.
Things to Remember
- Purchase the largest size that you can for your dog. Never give your dog a chew that can cause damage to your dogs mouth, throat, teeth or digestive system.
- Always remember to monitor any toy that is given to your dog to chew and when it gets small enough to be a hazard, TAKE IT AWAY and replace it.
- If you have more then one dog, Always monitor them when given any new toys.
- Read reviews and packages. Know what you are feeding your dogs.
- Some manufactures of antlers use naturally shed antlers that do no harm to the donor. ( these are my favorite!)
Watching your dog enjoy a good chew, knowing that it is a natural behavior, that allows him to clean his teeth while releasing energy, should be a healthy and enjoyable time.
If you have a favorite chew that your dog loves, I would love to hear about it! Or if you have questions, please leave me a note and I’ll get back you as soon as possible.
May All Your Dogs Be Healthy!