Some dogs have an uncanny ability to get into trouble when it comes to chewing the wrong things, but sometimes we unknowingly give them the wrong things to chew. Our 24×7 Angell Emergency/Critical Care Service sees many cases throughout the year, often related to summer barbecue or holiday scraps. Some of these cases end up with our Angell Surgery team, and others with our Angell Dentistry Service. Here are some inexpensive, safe dog-chew alternatives to turn to, and some to avoid.
Did you know that large frozen carrots make excellent, edible dog chew treats? As do semi-frozen sweet potatoes or many other large, frozen vegetables. The trick is to make them large enough to prevent choking (don’t use baby carrots), and be sure to wash them before freezing. These healthy, edible goodies are a safe choice compared to poultry bones which can splinter and cause serious damage if ingested.
Also at risk are your dog’s teeth. Angell Dentistry’s Dr. Jessica Riehl warns against bones, “Steer clear of any marrow bones, antlers or hooves. A good alternative for something that takes your pup some time to ‘work’ on is what I consider a marrow bone alternative – fill a rubber kong toy with some canned pumpkin or a very thin layer of peanut butter and place the kong in the freezer. When the filling hardens, your pet will take the time to lick at it and chew on the kong. Meanwhile, the kong will maintain is rubbery quality.” Make sure your veterinarian gives your dog a good oral exam during annual check-ups to check for fractured teeth or abscesses.
A general rule of thumb is anything a dog (or cat) chews on should be flexible enough that an owner can bend or break it with their hands. Flat “strip” rawhides are acceptable, but Dr. Riehl does not recommend compressed rawhides where many sheets of rawhide are flattened together, nor the rawhides which have the “knots” on the end.
Dr. Riehl suggests making sure you can bend or flex any inedible chew toy that you give to your canine, and the chew toy should be soft enough that you can dig your fingernail into it with some effort. It’s important to note that while inedible chew toys should be flexible; crunchy, edible biscuit-type treats (e.g. Milk bones or Greenies) that don’t bend are fine. Here are a few “good” and “bad” choices:
Good Chew Toys
- Rawhides (though some dogs may have a sensitive stomach reaction to them)
- Large, frozen veggies (such as carrots – no need to cook first, just be sure to wash thoroughly before freezing. If you use sweet potatoes, defrost a bit first due to their very large water content)
- Large, biscuit-type, edible chew treats (e.g., Greenies, Old Mother Hubbard treats, or Milk Bones. Avoid causing a choking hazard – do not break in half. The bigger, the better. Please note that Greenies have been reformulated to be safe following the recall they had a while back.)
- Rubber chews (like Kongs)
Bad, Unsafe Chew Toys
- Real bones (poultry bones, shin bones, steak bones, knuckle bones, marrow bones, and soup bones of any kind)
- Inflexible, inedible “chew” toys (e.g., Nylabones)
- Antler chews
- Frozen Yak Milk, a.k.a. “Himalayan Dog Chew” (a new treat on the market that can crack teeth)
- Corn cobs (inedible / not digestible)
To make an appointment with Angell’s Dentistry Service, please call 617-522-7282.