Knowing what items are safe for dogs to chew is important, considering that some things may be downright dangerous for dogs to chew on, while others may be relatively harmless, or at least safer by comparison. Let's face it: dogs have teeth and they'll chew, given the opportunity. It is therefore ultimately up to us dog owners ensuring our dogs stay safe. In this article, veterinarian Dr. Ivana discusses what items are safe for dogs to chew.
Satisfying a Dog's Urge to Chew
All dogs like to chew. Naturally inclined towards this behavior, the dog’s urge to chew on different objects is particularly strong. The chewing urges are more pronounced in young puppies than it is in adult dogs.
This is because when the new teeth break out, the gums hurt and the chewing tends to relieve the pressure. Plus, chewing keeps puppies and dogs entertained, thus providing both mental and physical stimulation. In a nutshell, chewing is an important part of every dog’s life.
When choosing an object for your puppy to chew on, you need to consider several important features.
- Material. The chewing object should be strong enough to last, while soft enough to provide relief. The softer the object, the more realistic sensation and feeling of prey it provides. Particularly hard objects may damage your dog’s teeth. When picking a chewing object for your dog, you need to find the perfect balance between durability and softness.
- Ingredients. Some ingredients cause stomach upset and diarrhea while other ingredients are potentially toxic. For example, it is important to choose a BPA-free (which is a harmful chemical) toys for your puppy.
- Shatter-proof. Chewing object must be made of material that your dog cannot break into tiny pieces. The perfect chewing object is made of one piece. Objects made of several pieces that can be easily detached and objects with sharp and protruding points must be avoided.
- Size. Size definitely matters. For example, if the chewing object is too big, your dog will not be able to open its mouth wide enough and it will be useless. On the other hand, if it is too small, it can be swallowed and cause life-threatening complications.
- Appropriateness. Never buy a puppy’s chewing object for an adult dog and the other way around. Puppy’s chews are for puppies and adult dog’s chews are for adult dogs. In a nutshell, chewing objects made for small and soft deciduous teeth are not the appropriate choice for a heavy chewer’s adult teeth.
- Shape and texture. Every dog has different preferences when it comes to shape and texture. If your dog is not interested in the chewing object you provided him with, replace it with a differently shaped and textured chewing object.
- Taste. Chewing something that tastes amazing is even better than simply chewing. Edible toys and toys that can be stuffed with treats are the perfect chewing choice.
Keep in mind that just because something is sold as a chewable dog toy does not mean it is safe. Before making the purchase, check if it fits the above stated features.
What Items are Safe For Dogs to Chew?
Today there is a plethora of teething toys for dogs on the market, but how to make the right choice? Here is a list of the best chewing toys and items for dogs. Of course, always monitor your dog when chewing on these as there are no 100 percent safe items to chew on.
- Hard rubber toys – these are quite practical not only because they are quite hard to destroy, but also because they can be filled with water and frozen, thus providing a soothing effect upon the gums when chewed. It is important that the rubber is durable and non-toxic.
- Treat toys – treat toys are interactive, easy on the teeth, tasty and serve as the perfect positive reinforcement technique. All treat toys should be made of durable and non-toxic rubber.
- Dental chew toys – when they come in contact with saliva, chew toys should dissolve thus eliminating the risk of damaging the teeth or choking on broken pieces.
What Items Are Not Safe For Dogs to Chew?
These are items you want to avoid giving your dog to chew on because there may be associated risks.
- Toys and items with small and/or sharp metal parts (such as springs, batteries and pins) can damage the teeth and also pose choking hazards.
- Toys with long strips, strings and/or fibers.
- Cooked bones can easily break into abrasive fragments that cause teeth fractures, damage the lining if the digestive tract or lead to intestinal blockages.
- Chewies made of rawhide or large pieces of knots can cause intestinal obstructions if swallowed hole.
- Soft toys with foamy stuffing.
- Squeaky rubber toys can be quite dangerous. This is because if a vigorous chewer manages to destroy the toy it can then swallow the squeaker.
- Children’s toys (they are designed to meet certain standards that differ from the standards a dog’s toy should meet. For example, dog’s toys need to be chew-proof).
- Toys that look like household items (if you get your dog a cute rubber slipper for chewing, chances are it will try to chew your slipper too)
- Your possessions (a dog does not understand what is he allowed to chew on and what not. Therefore, it is advisable to put items your dog might find attractive to chew on, out of its reach).
The Bottom Line
Regardless of the type of chewing object you select for your dog, it is of paramount importance to never leave it unsupervised during chew time. Once in a while, pick up your dog’s chewing objects and check them carefully for damages. If your dog has bitten off chunks of the object or there are visibly loose fibers, throw the object away and replace it with a new one.
About the Author
Dr. Ivana Crnec is a graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia.