Chewing is very important for your dog’s oral and mental health. It keeps his teeth clean, his body exercised and his mind occupied. Having your dog chew on a toy is also important to prevent behavior problems and chewing on inappropriate objects. A dog that has chewed for 30 minutes is busy, contented and then more apt to take a nap than gnaw on your brown leather shoes.
However, everything your dog puts in his or her mouth has a potential for harm. He or she could break a tooth, choke, become allergic, get an infection, have trouble with digestion, and probably more things we haven’t even thought of. Despite these risks, that allowing your dog to chew on a variety of objects is a natural behavior that is important to allow your dog to engage in. In fact, not giving your dog a variety of chews will probably result in your dog finding her own chews (i.e. your furniture, your shoes, sticks, rocks).
Tennis balls are one of the most popular dog toys, however they make terrible chew toys. The reason is because chewing on tennis balls can cause serious dental problems in dogs. The woolly nylon fuzz on tennis balls is abrasive and can wear down the enamel on dogs’ teeth, and dogs can develop ‘slab fractures’ from chewing on a tennis ball.
Additionally, when tennis balls bounce along the ground, they pick up grit and hold it in the fuzz, causing the ball to be even more abrasive. In dogs that are aggressive chewers, chewing on tennis balls can wear down the teeth so much that the tooth pulp becomes exposed: these teeth are very painful and will need to be extracted.
We all know that some dogs could not live without a game of fetch, so instead of a tennis ball, choose a bare rubber ball that won’t collect as much grit as a tennis ball. Your pooch probably won’t even notice the difference.
Rawhides are made from a layer of skin that usually comes from cattle. It can be in sheets, compressed or formed from bits, and it takes quite a bit of processing to get it ready for your dog. The concerns with rawhide are chemical processing, possible bacterial contamination, choking, indigestibility. In addition, the compressed forms of rawhide are very hard, and can cause tooth fractures.
Cow hooves are very hard chews which are a cut piece of a cow’s hoof. Breaking a tooth, Choking (hooves are not very big to begin with), being cut by a sharp piece, and possible bacterial contamination are my main concerns, plus they have an unpleasant odor and sharp hooves are hazards to humans with bare feet!
The concerns with real bones are breaking a tooth, a bone splintering and cutting the dog, choking on a small piece, possible bacterial contamination, indigestibility, and chemical treatment. Bones can also stain and be greasy.
Compressed Dog Chews
Last on the list of no nos are dog chews made of compacted corn starch and flavorings. These are really hard, break teeth and are choking hazards Plus, corn is not very nutritious for dogs and can be allergenic, and there are also other chemicals in the chew that are not very healthy for dogs.
Good Chew Choices
There are several good, safe chewing options out there for your pet, like bully sticks. They will not break teeth and have nutritional value. Take the bully stick away when it gets small enough to choke on, or even better, hold it for your dog.
Durable rubber chews are great for stuffing with treats. You can also put a mash up of canned food and kibble inside the kong and let your dog go to town. For even longer lasting fun, freeze the kong – just be aware that this game can get messy.
Pressed porkhide Bones are gourmet chew treats made with 100% natural pork skin and have a lasting, mouth-watering flavor your dog will love! These yummy treats are naturally high in protein, low in fat and are highly digestible. Plus – they won’t break teeth. And they are safe for dogs of all ages.
Pig snouts are generally very safe as well, packed with high-quality protein, non-greasy and contain no chemical preservatives or flavors. And with no artificial colors, you won’t have to worry about hard-to-remove stains in your carpet! Pig snouts do tend to be higher in calories, so if you do give pig snouts to small dogs, make sure to adjust your daily calorie count accordingly.