Chewing is an important source of enrichment for our dogs. With so many dog chew products out there, how does a dog owner figure out what chew toys to provide for their pets? One rule of thumb I follow is to let the dog guide you. What textures and scents do your dog find appealing? Is your naughty pup stealing leather shoes, rubber or plastic toys, or sampling sticks in the yard? These could be your first hints as to which textures your dog is looking for. Beware products like rawhide, which are now known to contain toxic levels of chemicals in addition to the risk of intestinal blockage. Keep in mind that any treat or toy used without supervision can be a risk. All we can do is make the best decisions possible for ourselves and our own pets. The Karma pack weighs in on a few favorites.
Natural Dog Chew
Yak Milk chews are an all natural, digestible chew that is now on the market. The processing removes the lactose and they are a good choice for heavy chewers(they also come in many sizes). All three of my dogs LOVE these and they take some time to chew through. They can be a bit pricey, but I have found them clearance priced at places like TJ Maxx, so it’s always worth keeping an eye out. A plus is that these chews are not stinky!
Knee caps don’t splinter and are a pretty affordable, natural chew for dogs. For larger dogs, an entire joint is a good alternative. These are a regular part of the rotation at my house. Once the dogs have worn them down to small enough pieces, I will throw that away to lessen the risk of choking. Part of being a good pet guardian is knowing your animals’ chew habits! Another variation of this(and even more affordable) is to buy raw bones at the butcher shop. Marrow is full of healthy nutrients, but avoid cuts with fat on them.
Antlers are the longest lived chew in the Karma pack. If you are an avid hiker, you can even find deer sheds for free in mountain areas! There is no odor or mess associated with these at all, so they will be safe on carpet.
Nylon Based Dog Chew
Nylon chew toys are now coming with many flavor infused variations to satisfy our pups! They are long lasting, don’t splinter, and come in many sizes, shapes and hardnesses. One of the first naturally flavor infused varieties to come on the market is Benebone, which comes in chicken and bacon flavors as well as being made in the US! Score! They have even updated the “dental chew” design to avoid dogs getting their jaws stuck in the hole. For convenience, it is possible to buy them at Walmart in addition to pet stores and online.
For the stick addict without the splintering action, there is wood infused nylon. My only dogs don’t usually go for nylon, but have been maintaining an interest in the Kong ChewStix. There are other brands as well as different sizes and shapes, because our pups’ preferences vary as much as ours do!