We all know dogs like to chew - it's part of their natural behavior and is good for their oral and mental health.
To help them steer clear of chewing our shoes and furniture, there are many dog chewing toys to choose from. There are so many on the market though, so how do you know what the best type for your pup is? The answer is - it depends!
By Jessica Simpson
In this article, we will explore the different chew toys that a vet would recommend and evaluate their effectiveness and how safe they are.
What makes a safe chew toy for dogs?
The ideal characteristics of a safe chew toy for dogs include:
- Tough and long-lasting
- The correct size for the breed
- Completely and quickly digestible (if an edible chew)
- Not harder than dental enamel
- Free from harmful chemicals
- It doesn't splinter into sharp pieces
How to choose safe dog chew toys for your dog
- Consider your dog's size - ensure the chew will not fit entirely into their mouth as this is a choking hazard.
- What is your pup's chewing style? Do you have a greedy gut or a polite nibbler? A dog who goes full pelt is more at risk of breaking off larger indigestible pieces, which may cause choking or a blockage. They will need a harder chew.
- How strong are their jaws? Larger breeds generally have a much stronger jaw and power through most chews. Try a natural rubber toy.
- Remember to always supervise your dog with a new chew to ensure they are not ingesting large pieces, splinters, or attempting something too hard. This may cause them to break teeth.
Different chew toys you can buy
- Nylabone - can be too hard for some dogs, causing them to break their teeth whilst chewing. Others swallow them, causing an obstruction. However, they're very long-lasting in most dogs.
- Raw bones – High chance of contamination with harmful bacteria that can cause disease in your dog and your family. Need to be large enough and strong enough that your dog can't break into splinters, but not so strong that it breaks teeth – a tricky balance! Contrary to common opinion, it is not entirely digestible and can cause a blockage, sometimes building up over months. Bones with a giant marrow can also become stuck around the lower jaw, requiring surgical removal.
- Rawhide – falling out of favor due to the chemical manufacturing process. If large chunks are swallowed, rawhide can cause blockages as it isn't digested quickly enough.
- Dried tripe/bully sticks/ostrich tendons/ pig ears etc. – Bacteria can thrive on these dried edible chews, at risk to your dog's health as well as your family's. As long as they are chewed thoroughly, these are (usually, but not always) sufficiently digestible to cause a blockage, although many vets report operating to remove undigested pig ears causing a blockage.
- Yak Milk - It's made from processed milk so your pup/dog might find it slightly harder to chew. However, the pieces are easier for them to digest when they're swallowing in small slivers!
- Rubber treat toy – if the wrong strength of rubber is used, or the rubber perishes over time, it's easy for these to break into pieces and be swallowed, causing an obstruction. The correct size toy needs to be used to prevent swallowing whole.
- Antlers – not advised by vets as these are too hard and cause teeth to break, requiring surgical removal.
- Hooves – Not quickly digestible, so large pieces are at risk. May be too hard for teeth, causing fractures.
- Wooden chew – some types of wood splinter less than others, but splinters causing mouth damage and impacting between the teeth causing gum disease are both possible.
- Hemp rope - tough and sustainable. They will help to keep your dog's teeth clean too. Will unravel eventually.
What are the best toys for large dogs that chew?
It is essential to get a toy that is the right size for your dog - it needs to be big enough so it can't fit entirely in their mouth. It also has to be tough as larger dogs will have an intense jaw action. Here are some of our favorite products:
Natural Rubber Bone
Beco has a range of tough rubber bone toys - the largest being a whopping 22 cm. They are committed to only using non-toxic materials - in this case, natural rubber, which is perfect for a dog's toy as it is rigid yet elastic.
Yak Milk Chew
Yak milk chews come in a variety of sizes. King size is around 200-230 g and a good size for your large breed. They are made in a traditional method using yak and cow's milk. It will help remove plaque and keep their breath fresh too. If your dog has a strong jaw and no teeth problems it can be a good chew choice, but remember to supervise your dog when you give them one.
Rubber Treat Toy
Beco's range of natural rubber treat toys comes in 3 colors and 4 sizes. The XL is 8.5 cm, which is large enough for even the biggest breeds. Your dog will love to seek out some tasty treats within the ball, and the tough, non-toxic rubber will be a satisfying and safe chew.
Wood Root Chew
The Little Pet Biscuit stocks these 100% wood root chews, which won't splinter and will keep your dog happy for hours. They are chunks of natural wood, carefully harvested from tree roots and left to dry for months. Only part of the tuber of the root is taken, which then sprouts again to ensure tree growth is not affected. And to preserve the root chew's eco-sustainable pedigree, only a limited number of them are harvested each year.
Hemp Rope Chunky Ball
This simple hemp rope toy will keep your dog chewing for hours. The tough fibers of hemp rope act as a natural toothbrush, helping to scrub off the bad stuff that gathers on your dog's teeth throughout the day.
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