Saturday, September 11, 2010

More to chew on - Alternatives to bones & rawhides

As we have already established, chewing is a natural behavior for dogs. All dogs explore their world with their mouths. If dogs are not provided with an outlet for their natural chewing behaviors, they will find things to chew on their own (like your furniture, shoes, etc.).

To prevent boredom and keep your pup from seeking out new and creative things to chew on, it's a good idea to have a variety of toys and chews available, and to rotate their toys periodically.

We have looked at the pros and cons of giving your dogs bones to chew on, plus we have looked at natural alternatives to bones (rawhide, chew hooves, pizzles, and other animal products). As with most things, there are good and bad points of each.

Let's take a look at some other options for chews and chew toys for your pup.

  • Nylabones: There is a wide variety of flavors, shapes, sizes and hardness in the Nylabone line of products. They are made from durable nylon. The original Nylabone is very hard and good for aggressive chewers. They also make a flexible line for puppies, a dental line with raised nubs to clean teeth and massage gums, and their "Healthy Edibles" line that is primarily composed of wheat and potato starches and flavorings. Nylabones have been a favorite for pet owners for many years. As with any chew, however, there are some cautions that need to be taken. It is possible for a dog to chew off an end and swallow a large piece...especially the gummy or softer varieties. There have been some instances where those pieces have become lodged in the stomach or intestines. Replace the chew if it becomes small enough to be swallowed.
  • Booda Bones: These are made of digestible cornstarch and come in lots of flavors. They have a nubby texture for increased plaque and tarter control, and promote healthy gums. Since these chews are starch based, and therefore easily digested, they are relatively safe.
  • Kong Toys: Kong toys have the reputation of being the toughest chew toy on the market. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and some of them can be filled with treats or peanut butter. They are made from thick, natural rubber and are ideal for aggressive chewers. Even my ultra-destructive chewers have yet to destroy one.
  • Rope Toys: Dog rope toys are simple in construction and can provide hours of entertainment for your dog. The primary aspects to consider when shopping for the right dog rope toy are the material the toy is made from and the durability of that material. Chewing on a rope toy can help to clean your dog's teeth and massage their gums. If your dog is an aggressive chewer and tends to swallow pieces of their toys, then a rope toy is probably not ideal to have around unsupervised. The most common problem when a rope is ingested is that it becomes obstructed in the intestines and can cause death if not treated right away.
  • Rubber Tire Dog Toys: Made from recycled rubber, Pup Treads Recycled Rubber Tire Dog Toys make a great chew toy for your active dog or puppy. Strong and durable, this rubber tire is made for aggressive chewers or puppies that are teething.While it is not impossible to chew off chunks of these toys, they tend to hold up pretty well.
  • Greenies: According to Greenie's official site, "Greenies® dental chews are made of high quality, easily digestible proteins that help keep dog’s teeth clean while also keeping their breath fresh. The easy to digest and chewy nature of Greenies® dental chews helps ensure that they are safe for dogs when given the appropriate sized serving. Greenies® dental chews are 96 percent digestible, which is more digestible than the average dry dog food." It has been estimated that dogs in the US eat over 150 million Greenies a month! But are they safe for all dogs? "At the 2005 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACIVM) meeting, there was discussion among internal medicine specialists about Greenies® causing esophageal obstructions that were difficult to relieve. Over 30 cases have been reported with most problems occurring in small breed dogs, however there was one case in a medium and one case occurring in a large sized dog. All of the problems were related to ingestion of Greenies or similar products and resulted in esophageal foreign bodies." (By: PetPlace Veterinarians from The manufacturer of Greenies recommends that you give your dog the proper size treat, and monitor them while they chew, as with any chew product. The majority of the time, it appears that Greenies are safe and cause no problems, so you can decide for yourself if you want to use them. If your dog tends to gulp down large hunks of things they chew on, these might not be a good choice. If you feed Greenies as treats to your pet, be alert for signs of retching, trouble swallowing, difficult breathing, vomiting, or lethargy.
There are many more options for chew treats. I have just touched on some of the more popular ones. Chew toys and treats are an excellent way to prevent boredom and destructive behavior in your dog, with the added benefit of massaging the gums and helping to keep the teeth clean. As I have stated before in my articles on bones and rawhide, etc., the main things to consider are the size of the treat, the chewing habits of your pet, and the materials the treat/toy is made of. With any of these items, the most important thing of all is to monitor your pet as they chew and never leave them unsupervised with a chew toy or treat.

No comments: