If there’s one thing dogs love doing, it’s chewing. Given the chance, they’ll chew anything – newspapers, carpet, even your favourite pair of shoes! Even if your pet is well behaved in every other department if they don’t have anything to chew, it’s likely they’ll end up taking it out on your belongings. They aren’t trying to be naughty, chewing is a completely normal and natural thing for a dog. It’s how they interact with new surroundings and environments, and it’s often something that they will grow out of.
While it might be a source of annoyance to us, chewing is useful for a dog in a number of ways. For example, puppies will chew as a way to ease and relieve the pain they feel caused by teething. And for older pooches, chewing regularly can keep their teeth and jaws strong and free from plaque and tartare. On top of this, chewing can help your dog deal with separation anxiety, boredom and frustration.
Best Dog Chews Buying Guide & FAQ:
Dogs are natural chewers. From puppies, to seniors, to small, medium and large-sized adults, dogs chew to preserve their dental health and to keep boredom at bay. And if they have no proper dog chews, toys or treats to clean and sharpen their teeth on? No problem, your shoes, bags, even wallet will do. No matter the breed or age of your pet or how well-behaved he is otherwise, chewing is unavoidable. So, to help your pet keep his teeth and gums healthy and strong, and your possessions remain intact, dog chews are a must-have.
But how to choose the right chewie? From puppy teething toys, to rawhide bones to dog dental chews, there appear to be countless of similar products on the market, making the search for the right one(s) difficult and rather confusing. Luckily, you’re in the right place. In this buying guide, we cover everything you need to know about dog chews, toys and treats that help improve canine dental health and mental well-being. We also answer some of the frequently asked questions at the end of the article, so make sure you stay tuned until the end!
Things to Consider When Choosing Dog Chews
To purchase the best dog chew for your pup, it’s important to consider a few things first. For instance, if you have a large breed pet that chews on things until they get practically destroyed, you’ll need a different dog chew than your neighbor with a small-sized, gentle-at-chewing pooch. So, when buying a dog chew, pay attention to the following things.
- Your Dog’s Chew-Personality
If your pet tends to bite off and swallow things from time to time, make sure you purchase a chew that’s large, tough and firm, such as a rubber toy or a bully stick. If you have a dog that’s on the opposite spectrum, meaning she usually just nibbles on things, you have many more options – from stuffed toys to tennis balls to rubber toys, almost anything goes here. For aggressive chewers, or “destroyers”, you want ultra-durable, firm chewies such as rawhides or bully sticks.
- Durability of the Toy
No matter the chew-personality of your pet, it’s important to pick a quality, tough dog chew. There are two major reasons for this: one, you want a chew toy that will actually stimulate your dog’s gums, and two, you want something that your dog won’t be able to bite off and swallow. As a bonus, a durable, tough chew toy will last longer. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to go with the hardest, toughest dog chew out there; in fact, unless your pet is one of the “destroyers”, we’d advise against it. Ideally, the toy should be both strong and soft – it should give a little when you press it with your finger, but still remain quite firm. If this is too many details for you, no worries. What’s really important is to look for reputable brands that have at least a couple of years of experience of making quality pet toys and chews.
- Entertainment Value
Dog chews are toys after all, and as such, should entertain your pup and stimulate his imagination. Generally, it’s a good idea to look for chews that are either bouncy, have interesting shapes or different flavors, or all three. You know your pet best and what excites him the most, so look for toys that offer distraction and are actually fun to chew on.
Why Should You Give Your Dog Chews?
While your dog’s chewing habits may not be your favorite thing, all dogs need to chew. In fact, chewing is an important part of being a canine! Not only does this practice help strengthen your pet’s teeth and gums, it also stimulates her brain and imagination and provides pleasure. Of course, letting your dog chew on whatever she can get her paws on is a recipe for disaster. But safe dog bones for chewing, tasty toys, antlers for dogs and other kinds of chewables? Perfect.
- Chewing is natural
In the wild, dogs regularly feast on bones from their prey. Both fresh and stale bones provide nutritional benefits, plus help promote healthy teeth and gums. Since wild animals don’t brush their teeth or use dental treats, regular chewing helps to naturally clean teeth and strengthen gums. On top of this, chewing actually provides pleasure to dogs and helps relieve tension and aggression.
- Improves dental health
As mentioned, chewing on bones is great for wild dogs’ oal health. But unless you own a wild dog, you need to find a way to help your pet clean his teeth and stimulate his gums. While brushing is always an option, not every pet parent has the time for that. That’s where chewies come in handy. Research has shown that dogs that regularly chew have less plaque build-up than dogs that do not. How is this possible? It’s actually quite simple – the mechanical action of chewing takes care of stuck-in-the-teeth food, plus helps to stimulate gums, leading to better oral health in general.
- Provides mental stimulation
Besides physical activity, all dogs need mental exercise too. Chewing is perfect for this – by concentrating on one thing for a long period of time, dogs exercise their brain power. This is also a fantastic way to manage your pet’s hyper-active and/or aggressive behavior. Instead of chewing on your chair legs, slippers and kid toys, your pet will focus all of his chewing urges on one, safe thing – dog chew. Likewise, by providing your dog with a proper toy, you’ll be able to curb constant barking. Furthermore, because it’s a natural urge, chewing actually provides satisfaction and comfort. Pets that cannot exercise their chewing habits feel deprived, even depressed.
Types of Dog Chews
There are hundreds of different dog chews out there, but when it comes to pure basics, the number of chewies is actually small. It’s good to familiarize yourself with different kinds of dog chews because this can help you pick the best product for your dog.
Made of the pizzle of the bull, a bully stick is tough, natural and tasty for dogs. Many pet parents swear by these chewies as they can be offered on their own or stuffed into certain interactive toys. Dogs of any breed, age or size can chew on these treats as they’re made of natural ingredients, are actually nutritious and packed with protein. If your dog doesn’t eat rawhide, bully sticks are an excellent alternative. However, like most chewable treats, they too come with certain safety risks. Some pets can choke on the end piece (although rare, it is something to note) or break a tooth. And if you purchase from cheap, shady brands, it’s possible to get a bully stick contaminated with bacteria too.
- Nutritious and tasty
- Tough, can withstand lots of chewing
- If not careful, choking or tooth breaking (rare)
- If not purchasing from reputable brands, bacterial contamination
Similar to bully sticks, edible chews such as cow hooves, rawhide, hard cheese chewies, etc, are like long-lasting, chewable treats. They’re made out of tasty ingredients and can be nutritious (depending on the chew), so most dogs absolutely love these. The downside of course, is that they can be high in calories and lead to weight gain if used too frequently. Another minus is that they’re one of the shortest lived chews you could buy. Also, like bully sticks, some of the edible chews can be contaminated with bacteria.
- Nutritious and natural
- Different shapes and flavors
- High in calories
- Some can be greasy
- If not purchasing from reputable brands, bacterial contamination
Rubber chews are some of the safest dog chew toys, provided they’re made of quality materials of course. Because they’re made of rubber, they last a very long time, plus are fun to chew. If you’re interested in purchasing this type of a chewie, our advice is to look for something that is firm enough to withstand serious chewing, but also soft enough to have enough “give” when you press it (this is especially important if your dog has sensitive teeth). The downside of rubber chews is that they’re indigestible which means if your pet manages to bite a piece off and swallow it, you need to take him to the vet fast. Also, they’re typically not as inviting as edible chews as they lack flavor.
- Durable and long-lasting
- Come in various shapes
- No extra calories
- Can’t damage teeth
- May not be as fun as edible chews
Ropes that dogs can chew on are a good option if you’re looking for a simple, calorie-free, non-greasy chew. Although they’re generally safe, you need to have a special kind of chewer in order to use them – nibbler. Gentler chewers, or dogs that never actually bite off pieces of chewables, can use rope toys with no issues, however, “destroyers” are advised to stay away from them. This is because swallowing strands of rope is highly dangerous. Naturally, swallowing any indigestible objects is dangerous, but linear foreign bodies are particularly tricky as they can saw through the intestines, causing a lot of pain. But, if your pet is rather gentle with his chewies, ropes can be a good option.
- Durable and long lasting
- No extra calories
- If swallowed, can lead to serious consequences
- Not as fun as edible chews
Beneficial Ingredients To Look For
Whether you’re interested in edible chews, rubber toys or ropes, it’s important to look for products made of quality ingredients/materials.
- Edible Chews
Edible chews such as safe rawhides, bully sticks, very hard cheese chews, etc, have nutritional value. Often, they will contain quite a bit of protein and fat (depending on the chew), which is generally a good thing, but it can be a problem if the ingredients are of low quality. It’s best to look for natural and as wholesome ingredients as possible, including chews made of real beef, chicken, etc, or real antlers, hooves and so on. Preferably, look for high protein, low-fat chewies that also contain minerals and vitamins.
- Non-Edible Chews
When it comes to rubber, rope and other materials, the most important thing to pay attention to is whether or not the toy is durable and firm. If flimsy, it’s highly likely your furry friend will be able to rip off a piece and maybe even swallow it. Saying that, rubber and nylon toys are some of the safest, vet recommended dog chews, so there’s usually nothing to worry about here. Still, it’s important to purchase well-designed and well-built chewies that can withstand lots of chewing without damaging your dog’s teeth.
Speaking of things and ingredients to look for, what are some of the things you should avoid in dog chews?
- Chews high in calories
Because most dogs have daily chewing habits, it’s important to pick chewies that are not high in calories. You’d be surprised how a little chew here and there can add up the calories! This is especially important for already overweight dogs – if you insist on using edible chews, make sure you purchase ones that is as low in calories as possible.
- Chews high in sodium
Another thing to look out for is an excessive amount of salt. Lots of bully sticks and other edible chews contain a lot of sodium, which in a nicely balanced diet is not much of an issue, but can be if the diet your pet eats is already pretty high in salt. Likewise, if your dog has poor kidney health, it’s wise to stick to low-sodium toys, or skip edible chews altogether.
- Too small and too big toys
It’s vital to choose the right size chew for your dog. Too small toys are a choking hazard, while very large chews force your pet to keep her jaw in all sorts of uncomfortable positions.
Best Dog Chews FAQ:
Q: How do I know which dog chew to choose?
A: With so many different dog chews on the market, finding the right one for your furry friend is not easy. However, if you focus on the most important things – your dog’s personality, his size and the quality of the chew itself – choosing the right chewie will be a piece of cake.
- Your dog’s chewing personality
Dogs as chewers could be divided into three categories – nibblers, destroyers and inhalers. If your pet is a nibbler, softer chews are a good choice, including edible toys, stuffed animals, etc. Destroyers need tough, firm objects such as rawhides and bully sticks, while inhalers similarly need firm and preferably one-piece chews such as rubber toys.
- Size of your pet
While every dog is different, the general rule is to use small chewies for small dogs and big chewies for big dogs. This may require a little bit of experimentation though as some dogs have smaller/bigger jaws than usual.
- Quality of the chew
Finally, it’s important to consider the materials/ingredients of the chew toy. Some dogs prefer bouncy, highly durable rubber toys that you can play fetch with, while others love tasty, chewy treats the most. If your dog has never used a chewie before, it’s not a bad idea to purchase two to three different products and see what he likes best.
Q: How often can I give my dog a chew?
A: Because chewing is a natural practice for canines, all dogs should be offered chews regularly to support their dental health and mental well-being. Ideally, you should give your dog a chew toy, whether edible or not, every single day for a limited amount of time. Generally, an hour to hour and a half is more than enough for your pet to clean his teeth, soothe his gums and sharpen his mind, so we would suggest limiting the chewing to that time frame. Saying that, how often and how long you should offer a chewie to your dog also depends on the chew itself. If rubber, rope or otherwise inedible, feel free to give it every day, for as long as your dog wants it. If edible, however, especially if high in calories, offer the chew every other day and limit the chewing time to less than an hour.
Q: Should I supervise my dog while he’s chewing a rawhide treat?
A: Regardless of the chewie you choose to purchase, it’s recommended you supervise your dog during her chewing-time. All dog chews, whether rawhides, bully sticks, rubber toys or ropes, have certain safety risks, which you should try to minimize as much as possible. Of course, you can’t (and shouldn’t) watch your pet’s every move like a hawk, but you should never leave her unsupervised whilst chewing. Like all animals, our furry companions can be unpredictable and clumsy, so it’s important to monitor their chewing practices and guide them if necessary (this is especially true for beginners and aggressive chewers).
Another important tip is to take a peek at the chewie itself from time to time. Often, dogs will chew off bits and pieces of their toys, shrinking them in the process. Small chews may pose a choking hazard (especially for large dogs!), so throw away any toys or treats that have lost their original size and shape.
Related Post: Best Elk Antler Dog Chews
Our Top Pick
Although we love all the chews on this list, the Supreme Bully Sticks from Best Bully Sticks have taken the top spot as our favourite pick of them all. These meaty treats will keep your doggy entertained and satisfy all of their hunger pangs and chewing urges all in one great product. A dog chew that can be safely consumed, they act as a great training tool for young dogs.
With a scrumptious taste that any dog would go crazy for, these healthy dog chews are just the thing to keep your chew-crazy furry friend away from your throw cushions! If your pup has separation anxiety, be sure to leave them with plenty of chews to go through so they can release their stress in a non-destructive and completely safe way.
From occasional to seriously aggressive chewers, there’s a toy, treat and chew for every dog out there. Whether your goal is to help your teething puppy find some comfort, calm the anxiety of an antsy young pooch or you want to stop your fully grown dog’s bad chewing habits in their tracks, selecting the right kind of chew is the first step to keeping everyone, pets included, in your household happy.