Which are the Best Dog Chews for my Dog?
Which are the best Chews for your Dog?
Most dogs are natural born chewers. If you have ever come home to find a chair leg gnawed at, or your sofa chewed on, you will have learnt this the hard way. It’s instinctive for dogs to chew, and most will enjoy chewing just like they enjoy playing.
Why do dogs chew?
Dogs chew things because they like it. Its built into them. They use their mouths like we humans use our hands.
When dogs are puppies, and even as they get older, chewing helps to strengthen their jaws and their teeth. It also helps to clean their teeth.
Puppies chew a lot, its how they feel their surroundings, how they learn about things a lot of the time, and will chew a lot especially when they are teething.
Many dogs will chill-out in the evenings, when us humans are watching TV, by lying down and chewing something (hopefully a toy, not your slippers).
Benefits of Dog Chews
Chewing also has mental benefits for dogs. It helps entertain your dog and prevents boredom. It can also relieve anxiety. This is why a dog which is left alone for a while may resort to chewing the furniture. They may be bored or anxious (separation anxiety). This can then lead to “behavior problems” (quite often just a natural desire to do something fun and to chew).
Next time you come home and your dog has chewed a table or the TV remote, it is probably because of boredom or anxiety. To help prevent this leading to more and more destructive behavior, it’s best to 1) get to the root of the problem, and 2) helps prevent destructive chewing by providing something to chew.*
Dog Chews vs Dog Toys
So which are best, dog chews or dog toys? Well, they both serve a different purpose, so its always good to have a mix of both at home for different times of the day. Just like us, dogs get bored with one type of entertainment, so even though that squeaker ball was great fun for half an hour, after a while your dog may get bored of chasing the ball or flinging the stuffed bear around, and want to relax with a chew toy.
Best Dog Chews
There are different types of toys that dogs will chew. Each chew type has its different benefits.
Edible Chew Treats
These are man-made treats which last longer than normal biscuit treats. They include things like DentaStix, Yakkers/Yak Snacks, Antos Rice Bones, and rawhide treats in various shapes.
Depending on your dog, he may be able to chew these up and polish them of within a minute or so. If your dog is a lighter chewer, it may take a good 15 minutes or half hour, or longer.
As these are edible, you will want to be careful about how often you give your dog these treats. They are usually high energy/calorie treats, which will add to your dogs waist line if you aren’t careful! They also don’t always contain the healthiest of ingredients. Some are healthier than others, and although they aren’t “health food”, they are great for the odd occasion.
Rawhide is another popular treat. They are hard, but as they get chewed they soften up quite a bit, so keep your eye on your dog, as they may seem like they will take ages to get through a full one, then suddenly it will be all chewed and eaten! They are high calorie and so should be given infrequently.
Rice bones are hard bones made from rice flour, starch or oil, and one or two other ingredients, and pressed and formed into shape. They usually have quite natural natural ingredients, and will help clean your dogs teeth as they eat.
There are a wide variety of natural dog chews. These will usually be from an animal, and be fairly long lasting.
Antlers, bones and horns will last most dogs for a few days, weeks or months. Antlers are similar to bones. They have a soft marrow which are tasty which most dogs would enjoy. Antlers also often come from a sustainable and cruelty-free source, as they shed from deer, and are collected from the ground then simply cut to size. Antler dog chews are available as solid, round antlers, which will last the longest, as the marrow is harder to get to. Split antlers, which are cut length-ways down the middle exposing the marrow, making it easier for more gentle chewers. And Fallow antlers, which are the flatter looking part, and is usually softer than the round antlers. Antlers shouldn’t splinter, and should just wear down as your dog chews it.
Bones are quite low-cost and common. Bones bought from a store should have been processed in the correct way, so should be safe. Care should be taken with other bones. Once bones are cooked (for example from a leg of lamb, from chicken etc) they become brittle and splinter, and should not be given to a dog. Cooked bones are dangerous.
Buffalo horns are another natural treat which are hard and long lasting. Your dog may be able to break chunks of these off so your dog should be closely supervised. We usually prefer the thicker parts of the horns, as they are less likely to break off in chunks, and can be worn down slower.
The great thing with bones and antlers, is that as your dog chews away at the marrow, you can fill it back up again, maybe with some sugar-free peanut butter, or KONG filler, which will help keep their interest up in the chew.
Bully sticks, hoofs and ears are all quite common also. Although smelly, your dog will probably love them!
These toys aren’t edible, but some dogs love to just sit and chew. Each material will have a different benefit.
The nylon toys (like Nylabones) come in many shapes and sizes (not just bone shaped), they are quite often flavoured, which helps keep your dogs interest. These are very hard, so should not be given to puppies.
Rope toys are great teeth cleaners! Ever tried to floss your dogs teeth? Thought not! But rope toys do this job really well. Some rope toys are scented/falvoured, but even if not, a log of dogs will love to just sit and chew these to bits. Just watch out for them trying to swallow strands of string, or your dog may have some stringy poop!
Rubber rings and bones are also great for lighter chewers and heavy chewers depending on the size of toy. They will satisfy that chew need (nice squishy rubber), and some toys have “spikes” or are in other shapes which help massage gums, and help clean round your dogs teeth.
Fillable or Stuffable Chew Toys
Usually made from really tough rubber, these type of toys not only satisfy your dogs need to chew, they also contain tasty treats which your dog has to try and get at. They are great when stuffed with a dog toy filler, like the one from kong, or plain peanut butter. Your dog can chew away at the toy (which usually will resist any damage), whilst licking away at the filling. This also helps alleviate boredom as its a great mental exercise.
Our Recommended Chews
Ok, every dog is different, and its hard to pick just one chew. So here is our pick of 4 chews to have in the house:
Antler – because: they are very long lasting, and tasty, so always great to have one close by.
Yak Bar – because: the whole thing is tasty (its like a really hard block of cheese), if your dog gets bored of their antler, you can give them a Yak.
Rope Toy – because: they double up as a tug toy, or fetch toy, and if you get a scented one (or even one without scent) your dog may be happy to chew it, which will also really help with flossing teeth.
Fillable Toy (like Kong) – because: if you really want your dog to just settle down, and keep they truly entertained for a good while, fill a Kong (or similar) toy with peanut butter. The amazing smelling filling, which will be harder and hard to get at with their tongue, so will keep them chewing and licking away for quite a while.
Care when Choosing a Chew
The hardness or softness of chew toys and treats is important for puppies. Puppies has their soft milk teeth, and hard chews will snap these quite easily. Packaging will usually indicate what age a chew toy is suitable for, and you can even buy rubber or similar chews specifically for puppies.
*You should never leave a dog alone with chews, treats or toys. They can choke. Providing chew toys can help entertain your dog, tire them out mentally, and satisfy your dogs desire to chew while you are at home. This can help prevent them from chewing whilst you are out. If your dog has separation anxiety, there are also other things your can do to help, which we cover in another article.