To chew or not to chew, that is the question.

Golden Retriever pup chewing a child's shoe

Golden Retriever pup chewing a child’s shoe

To chew or not to chew, that is the question.
I have a new puppy at home in addition to three adult dogs. At almost  months of age the pup is exploring & learning all the time – mostly with his teeth! In an attempt to find something safe for all four animals to chew I started to ‘google’ on the subject.
I found a list of reasons why dogs chew – some make sense, some are surely out of date now, but these were the most common –

boredom, teething, attention seeking, dietary imbalance, separation anxiety.

The fact remains however that most dogs enjoy chewing; the process releases endorphins from the dog’s brain which make it feel good. So I want my dogs to feel good but what was considered safe for them to chew a few years back has changed considerably.

Rawhide chews for instance used to be very popular but are now known to be potentially dangerous. Various nasty chemicals are used to prepare them; they can cause blockages or upset the stomach while having very little nutritional content. Antlers similarly were well regarded until vets began to notice a rise in the numbers of dogs with tooth fractures as a direct result of chewing on antlers. Conversely dogs that don’t chew often enough on hard objects may require dental work due to the build-up of stains and/or tartar!

puppy-chew-2
Conscious now of the safety aspects I discover that raw bones are safe – taking into account size of bone relative to size of dog. As a food item there are small bones where the dog eats both meat & bone but that have no marrow & are easily crushed. Also safe are larger bones that provide plenty of gnawing entertainment but have little nutritional value & finally non-edible types (like the leg bones of bigger animals) that contain plenty of marrow. All will clean & polish your dog’s teeth into the bargain.
Aside from meat there are plenty of fishy treats that come in various shapes & sizes, usually freeze dried, that will be as good for the teeth & gums as a raw bone. Finally, don’t forget the vegetarian option – whole carrots, green beans & sweet potato chunks can be given fresh or indeed frozen.
Hopefully ringing the changes will keep the dogs happy & the pup out of trouble but bones will only be allowed when I’m about to keep an eye on them in case of accident.

Sadly, experience shows that the treats or chews that my dogs like best smell just awful. Phew!

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