Here’s Something to Chew On!

by Tim DiPaolo

Canines have a natural urge to chew. Chewing relieves stress and boredom, and helps young dogs with teething. Dogs naturally explore items with their mouth like humans feel things with their hands. An issue we often run into with dogs is finding the right items for them to chew on, and discouraging inappropriate chewing of our belongings such as the T.V. remote, shoes, gloves etc. I have had dogs that chewed the venetian blinds, or thought the can of fish food was quite fun and tasty to chew!

If your dog tends to chew items that he shouldn’t, consider consulting a qualified behaviorist or trainer. You can always contact Dehler Animal Clinic for some suggestions.

There are many dog chews available in pet stores in the dog food and supplies sections. Ask your veterinarian what he or she would recommend for your furry friend. Here are a few tips:

  • Rawhide chews are indigestible, any large pieces that can be chewed off may cause a blockage in the animal’s intestines. Try to purchase rawhides that are made to be digestible so that they can be swallowed. The CET Hextra chews made by Virbac are a good choice and are treated with Chlorhexidine, an antibacterial agent that helps to clean the mouth.
  • Raw bones from the supermarket’s butcher section may be great for making soups and stock but can carry food-borne bacteria so they should be avoided. These bones are very hard and may cause damage to your pets’ teeth as well.
  • Cooked bones may splinter causing a painful and dangerous puncture in the pet’s throat or intestines.
  • Some chews made outside the U.S. have been linked to serious illnesses and death. Be sure of the contents and origin of your choices before giving them to your dog. If in doubt do some research on trusted veterinary websites or ask your veterinarian which chews are healthy.
  • Chews made from animal parts like ears, hooves, or antlers should always be inspected periodically to be sure they are not splintering nor have large pieces coming loose. If they do trim them to avoid the animal swallowing them.
  • Any chew that becomes small enough to swallow when it is nearly gone should be discarded and replaced with a new one that is too large to swallow whole.
  • Any hard solid chew toy should be large enough that the pet CANNOT put his or her mouth all the way around it with the top and bottom teeth opposing each other and the toy in the middle. Instead they should be chewing with the sides of their teeth. This also helps to clean that area. Nylabone makes several types of chews that would be appropriate.
  • Ensure that your choice of chew toys cannot become lodged between the pet’s two rows of upper teeth. This can cause painful injuries to the pet’s soft palate. Sticks are often the culprit here.
  • Remember, your pet should always be supervised when enjoying a toy or chew to avoid problems.

Whatever you choose for a chew or chew toy you should take into account the extra caloric intake that it may represent and tailor your pet’s food intake accordingly. Making sure that your pet’s chewing needs have been met will provide them with hours of entertainment and help you to buy fewer T.V. remotes!