Friday, June 6, 2014

CHEWsing the right Chew for your dog

One thing that most dogs like to do is chew.

Chewing is natures way of cleaning canine teeth, and dogs enjoy a good chew. If you don't provide appropriate chews or chew toys for them, many dogs will find their own.

Shoes, chair legs, the list is endless. There are many different kinds of dog chews available, and all have risks. How do you choose the best, safest chew for your dog? Let's look at the most popular types.

Bones are the original chew, and dogs love to have them. Never give cooked bones, the cooking process dries bones out so they are very likely to splinter. This could cause a perforation of the stomach or intestine, a life threatening emergency. Raw bones are safer, but any bone could still splinter and cause problems. Always watch your dog when they have a bone, it should wear down as your dog chews. Make sure you aren't giving small bones to big dogs, it could be a choking hazard.

We have a wide selection of raw bones if you decide you want to try this type of chew for your dog.

Rawhide Chews
Rawhide chews have been around forever, and most dogs love them but that doesn't mean every dog should have them. Rawhide is made from the hide of cattle or pigs and is not easily digested. A dog that ingests a large hunk of rawhide is at risk for an intestinal obstruction. This is a life threatening emergency that requires immediate surgery. If your dog is an easy going chewer, wearing a rawhide down over days rather then minutes that is fine. In small pieces rawhide can be digested. Be aware that not all rawhide chews are safe for your dog. Some companies spray the rawhide with chemical preservatives, and in some cases, even formaldehyde. These chemicals are not safe for your dog. We carry the Wholesome Hide brand, made in the USA without any chemical preservatives.

Chew Toys
Puppies benefit from chew toys, especially during the teething stage. A softer chew is best, something that will be soothing to their gums. West Paw and Planet Dog both make a line of chew toys especially for puppies. Softer material, but still tough and durable. Planet Dog also has a line of toys designed for older dogs that still love to chew but may have dental issues. Their Old Soul line is made especially for the seniors. Both are American companies that manufacture within the United States.

Himalayan Chews

The Himalayan Company makes a durable chew out of compressed yak and cows milk. They are designed to break into small pieces and are digestible. Again, you have to watch your dog with this chew, once it is down to a small piece there is a risk of choking. You can take the small end piece and microwave it for 30-45 seconds to soften it. Once it cools it is like a cheese curl, and your dog will love it!

Dental Chews
Dental Chews are made specifically to clean teeth while the dog chews. Made of compressed vegetable starch, these can be tough and durable. There are some dogs that can manage to break off big pieces and swallow them, so always observe your dog when they have a chew. Vegetable starch is usually digestible so there is less risk of developing an obstruction.

Bully Sticks
Bully sticks are dried beef tendon, and are much more digestible than rawhide. A large bully stick will last my dog Beau about 45 minutes to an hour. As he chews it the bully stick softens and he gets the small pieces off. A really determined chewer could break it off in larger pieces, and have a risk of choking. So again, keep an eye on your dog whenever they have a chew.

Antlers are a very popular dog chew, and very long lasting. These have marrow at the center just like a bone and that is what the dog is chewing to get to. Antlers wear down slowly and splintering is rarely a problem, one of the reasons they are so popular. Antlers are very hard, and a determined chewer can easily fracture a tooth. Split antlers are also available, cut lengthwise to expose the marrow. This lets your dog get to the good part more easily and with less risk of tooth damage. The split antlers don't last as long but they also don't cost as much.

I hope this information helps you make an informed choice about what chew is best for your dog. When you come to the Bakery our staff is there to answer your questions. Please don't hesitate to ask!