Choosing a Chew for Your Pup
Do you ever catch your pup red handed? Nibbling at the legs of your dining room table, or maybe gnawing at your new couch? Your first instinct may be to reprimand or discipline your pet, but have you ever wondered why exactly they’ve built those habits? Or what you can do to solve the problem?
Why Does My Dog Chew On Everything?There are several reasons why canines are always chewing on everything they get their paws on.
One possible reason is their mental state. Just as humans can develop anxiety and depression, so can their pets. Dogs often turn to destructive behaviors as a coping mechanism to relieve stress, whether it be barking, hiding, whimpering, biting, or in this case, chewing. Chances are, if they’re feeling anxious while separated from you, hearing loud noises, going through sudden changes, or going for a routine vet visit, they may turn to your valuables to get rid of some of that excess energy.
The same goes for dogs that are restless or bored. They aren’t sure where to focus that extra time or those spurts of energy, so they decide chewing is the best bet.
The things they choose to chew on are usually chosen because they like its taste or odor. Have you ever lost a pair of shoes to your pup’s nibbling? A lot of the items pets choose to nibble on have tastes and odors that are alluring to your companion’s senses, especially if that scent is yours. The thought would be more endearing if you didn’t have to lose a sneaker to it!
Perhaps the biggest reason for dogs chewing is that they are natural hunters. Wild dogs and dogs’ ancestors are accustomed to searching for prey and satisfyingly chewing on them afterwards. So while their biting of the household furniture isn’t really ideal and can be seen as destructive, it doesn’t need to be.
Pros and Cons of Different Types of Dog Chews
Turn your pet to a more acceptable, constructive behavior. This is exactly why dog chews are created. They’re super popular for several reasons, but before choosing a product, try to see which specific option may best suit your pet’s personality and preferences. Also take note of each option’s pros and cons.
Pros: Rope toys are a classic favorite. They’re great for your pet to play with solo, in a competitive game of tug of war, or even a simple game of fetch. Tug of war encourages a bit of healthy competition between you and your dog, while their occasional wins can help boost their confidence and self esteem. Fetch serves as another opportunity for the two of you to spend extra time together. Plus, you can work in training with commands like “fetch,” “run,” “drop it,” etc. These are sturdy toys that may be in its timeless single rope form, or sometimes have balls or more chew pieces attached to the end. Some even come in new shapes like rings, figure 8’s, etc!
Cons: Rope toys unfortunately always have the possibility of becoming frayed or unraveling. This causes the single strands of the rope to become exposed or detached, increasing the risk of your canine ingesting the material. This can be prevented a bit more by purchasing a tightly wound rope toy, but fraying is still possible. Pets are not always able to quickly pass the material through their system, and sometimes it leaves behind serious damage first.
Nylon, Rubber, or Hard Plastic Toys
Pros: These are popular dog toy materials that are very sturdy and built for the toughest, most aggressive chewers. They come in an assortment of shapes and sizes, such as bones, balls, tug toys, sticks, pacifiers, binkies, animal shapes, etc. You can choose from these options depending upon your dog’s chewing habits and lifestage. For example, puppies may be in need of those pacifiers and binkies, or even softer chew toys, that are easy on their developing gums and teeth.
Cons: Since these toys are durable, there is much less of a chance of them coming apart, as they are designed to withstand tough chewing. However, should they break apart into pieces and be eaten, it can be very dangerous. It can cause blockages, or the harsh, broken materials can scrape your pet’s teeth and gums.
Pros: Chews are often made of different animal parts. These can be anything from hooves, antlers, knuckles, and ears, to knee caps, snouts, and horns. Animal parts satisfy a dog's natural instincts, as they mimic the ancestral diets of dogs, bringing them back to the time of eating wild animals. Many of them are also full of essential vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, etc. These nutrients are what help to strengthen your dog’s immune system while also giving them the satisfaction of chewing.
Cons: The extremely hard texture of animal parts can be seen as either a pro or con. While it provides long lasting chewing, it's possible for dogs to damage their teeth. Just like nylon toys, it is also possible for dangerously sharp pieces to break off and be ingested, damaging parts of your canine’s gastrointestinal tract and digestive system.
Digestible Chews & Rawhide
Pros: Chews that are safe for consumption include dental chews, bully sticks, rawhide, and other edible, hard options and treats. Dental chews are specifically created to have a rougher texture to reduce plaque buildup and tartar, lowering the risk of oral disease. It also gives your dog fresher breath and a brighter smile! Digestible chews’ varied sizes and shapes make it easier to choose one suited to your dog’s size, mouth size, and preferences. Bully sticks, rawhide, and other treats are usually flavored. Coming in flavors like beef, pork, chicken, etc, this will keep your pet looking forward to chew time and add some extra excitement into their day!
Cons: While some chews are safer than others, rawhide remain to be controversial. This is due to the fact that when chewed, rawhide take on an unsafe consistency that can lead to choking and blockage when fully consumed. Not only can blockage occur, but overall gastrointestinal upsets can occur. This includes abdominal pain or even more serious issues that may call for expensive surgeries.
Overall, while each type of dog chew contains its own benefits and advantages, they are sure to stave off your pup’s boredom, mentally stimulate them, boost their dental hygiene, and keep them away from your hard earned furniture! Whichever product you choose to give, it’s important to supervise your pet to see how they may react to the toy or digestible chew, or if it can be a possible choking hazard.
Giving your canine a good ol’ chew can provide many advantages for both you and them, and the large range of products available on the market will certainly give you a lot to choose from!