Dogs and Chewing
We all know that dogs love to chew and there are a vast array of products out there which enable/encourage them to do it. But why do they chew?
Put simply, it makes them happy, the act of chewing on that bone or toy that you have provided for them releases endorphins that in turn make your dog happy and calm. It is also said that it is a survival instinct, as chewing helps clean the teeth and dogs need their teeth to survive. In nature wolves would chew on the bones or skin of their prey. Tooth decay is an increasing problem in veterinary clinics, caused by dental plaque which then turns to tartar, which in turn damages the gums and can lead to tooth loss and decay. Chewing can help remove some of this plaque before tartar sets in, supported by brushing teeth.
For young puppies chewing is the way they explore the world, similar to human babies putting everything in their mouths and human adults using hands to explore, it is also a great source of pain relief when young pups are teething.
Most dog owners however have been in the situation where the dogs desire to chew has been targeted on something that they really shouldn’t be chewing on, our friends Labrador, Branston, chewed on many things including many pairs of flip flops, a Blackberry, his bed and even the pregnancy notes ( a first for the midwife). Other dogs turn their attention to children’s toys and shoes leaving to tears!
So what are the options when it comes to encouraging the correct kind of chewing?
Bones – Dogs love bones, they contain juicy marrow bone and calcium but they also present a hazard. Avoid cooked bones, they are more brittle and prone to splintering, the nutrients contained in the bones are much less after cooking. A good marrow bone from a butcher is a great option albeit it a bit smelly but your dog will love it and dogs can eat raw chicken or turkey bones too.
Rawhide – Rawhide is one of the most popular dog chew treats but you have to be a little careful here too. Cheap rawhide chews come into the market from China, with thin rawhide that has been bleached and sometimes has chemicals, often shredded and pressed together causing a potential choking hazard. Farmfood Rawhide products are made from dried hypodermic tissue, which is very tough and solid, they also come from a production line with a food hygiene classification, some other rawhide chews come from leather making factories. As the Farmfood rawhide is chewed and moistened, collagen is released, collagen helps with the plaque whilst the physical aspect of chewing rubs the teeth and cleans and therefore freshens the dog’s breath.
Antlers – These are a truly natural dog chew, possibly a chew that dates back long before many. The antlers are naturally shed from the deer after the mating season when they regrow again, so they really are a natural sustainable treat. Farm Food Antlers are collected in southern European forests. Because they are natural, no antler will be the same and they are therefore sized after being cut, making it easy for you find the right one for your dog. The chewing creates a natural sanding effect to help clean your dog’s teeth. These chews are a little more expensive but they last a long time, they also don’t splinter and don’t go slimy, they are also rich in calcium and contain other beneficial minerals.
Anco Roots – Fairly new to the market, these look like lumps of wood which dogs just love to chew on. But they are not just lumps of wood, they are the tubers of tree roots harvested from protected areas and are 100% natural. They don’t splinter and are long lasting, they even have naturally present vitamins and minerals. The great thing is they are suitable for all dogs, even puppies, you just need to pick the size that suits your dog’s bite. They may seem expensive at the outset but will last a long time. A very eco sustainable product.
Kongs – The well known Kong has been an amazing success story, such a simple design but it works! Made of natural rubber it has been around for over 30 years now. It doubles up as a chew toy and an unpredictable bounce toy for games of fetch. The Kong comes in different sizes and chew strengths from puppies right up to XXL large. The great thing about Kongs is that you can stuff the middle with pretty much anything to keep your dog entertained. You can use Kong’s own Stuff’n products or take a look at some Kong recipes for some fun ideas. You can also freeze the Kong to make the treat time last a bit longer!
Toys – There are lots of toys on the market that are great for chewing, but always ensure that you check them regularly for rips and chewed off pieces as these can cause potential harm to your dog.
Remember when choosing any toy or treat for chewing, ensure that it suitable for the size and bite of your dog and routinely check for broken pieces and remove chew treats when they become small and a potential choking hazard.
Check out chewing treats at our partner site Doodles Pet Shop
Next Time – How to deal with destructive chewing