Canine chews help keep your dog’s teeth clean and his jaws strong. If you are looking for alternatives to raw bones, you probably already know the dangers of feeding bones to dogs. Although there are ways to feed those to your furry friend safely, they certainly pose more health risks than canine chews.
However, considering no dog chew is absolutely 100 per cent safe, it is important to choose one carefully. The following are the things that you should consider when selecting dog chews for your pet.
Safety of Materials/Ingredients Used
The chew toy should be:
- Made of very durable rubber or plastic
It should withstand your dog’s enthusiastic gnawing. It must not easily disintegrate into little pieces, which could enter the animal’s digestive tract. Over time, these scraps can become an uncomfortable obstruction, which may require surgery to extract.Tip: Chew toys that are too hard are not safe. To determine the right hardness of a dog chew, use your thumbnail. If the material does not yield a little when you press your thumbnail on it, the item is too hard.
- Free of small parts
The canine chew should not have buttons, detachable decor, or strings that may be swallowed by your pet.
- Uncoated or untreated with questionable flavours
Dogs like toys that taste like food. However, certain flavourings do not agree with their digestive systems and may cause tummy upsets. As such, check the label to see what sort of coatings the dog chew has. Avoid those that have animal by-products, gluten, additional sugar or fat, corn, or soy.
- Of the right shape and size
The canine chew should not be too small that your dog can manoeuvre it through his mouth and possibly choke. The shape should also not get your pet’s muzzle or tongue stuck in any part of it. Consider also the shape and size of your dog’s mouth.
Is the item easy to wash or sanitise? It must be washable to safeguard your pet’s health and hygiene.
Is the item digestible? Chew toys made of edible materials that are kind to canine stomachs are recommended. As mentioned, avoid those that contain ingredients known to cause allergic reactions to your dog.
You can use, for example, chew aids made with twisted robe fibres. You can also go for a completely edible dental bone, which is entirely natural and is free of harmful ingredients.
Appropriateness to Dog Breed
Some canine chews may be beneficial to certain dogs but are not safe for others. Take plush toys, for example. These may be appropriate for certain smaller breeds but may be hazardous for the larger, more powerful dogs. Bigger dog breeds could easily rip soft toys apart and possibly ingest its parts.
That being said, when deciding on a dog chew, consider the:
- Age of the dog
Are you getting a chew toy for a puppy? If he still has baby teeth, consider getting softer chew items, even plush toys. If your pup is already teething, you may need sturdier dog chews but not the ones made with hard rubber. If your pet has already gone past the teething stage and beyond, he will need the harder chews. But when he reaches age seven or further, he may need to gnaw on softer items.
- Temperament, strength, and ‘chewsonality’ of the pet
Some small dog breeds can be mighty biters, such as Yorkshire terriers. As such, it is important to consider what sort of gnawer is your dog. Is he the kind who likes to nibble, enjoying chew toys slowly? Or does he like to thoroughly gnash out the chew item until it is completely destroyed? Is he the kind that chomps big chunks off chew toys and swallows them in a blink of an eye? If your pet is of the first kind, edible chews, bully sticks, tennis balls, and even plush items are safe options. If you have an enthusiastic gnawer, the harder rubber chews and edible treats are suitable for him. For the swallowers, edible chews may not be suitable. Rather, give him items that are too big or difficult to chomp into bits and swallow. Firm rubber chews, rope chews, and tennis balls are some examples.
- Texture and entertainment value of the chew item
Interesting textures can perk up your dog’s curiosity and add to the entertainment value of the chew. A good-value dog chew should be able to keep your pet interested and excited in mouthing it for hours.
What About Rawhide Chews?
There is an ongoing debate over the safety of rawhide chew toys. Although not all of them are unsafe, they generally can become choking hazards. More importantly, they may be laced with chemicals that are unsafe for canine health. That’s because most rawhide chews are from China and may be treated with lime and other substances.
There is also the question of the animals from which the rawhide is sourced. A number of rawhides are reportedly by-products of cruel fur trade. However, those made domestically or in the US are likely to be safer alternatives, although more costly.
What kinds of dog chews have you given to your pet? Are these tips helpful for you? Tell us in the comments below!
Make Your Own All-Natural Sweet Potato Dog Chew!