After a recent emergency this week requiring us to pull a 12“ piece of a bully stick from the thoracic esophagus of a vomiting bulldog puppy; many questions came pouring in over Facebook to find out “What are the best chews for our dogs teeth ?”
Note there are many different opinions to that question amongst veterinarians and pet owners. The one thing all veterinarians will agree upon is thebest thing we can do to keep teeth clean hands down is brushing! Only 10 % of US households brush their dog’s teeth at least 4 days a week.
Chewing is great supplement for our dogs dental and mental health. Here is a list of the benefits of chewing for our dogs: It keeps their teeth clean, promotes fresh breath/healthy gums, it prevents dogs form chewing items around the home, reduces anxiety/produces good mental health, helps strengthen their jaws, and it helps puppies alleviate teething pain.
When can chewing be a problem? Certain chews can become choking hazards, certain chews can cause intestinal blockages, smaller hard chews can lead to dental trauma, and some products can contain unsafe chemicals.
Below is a list of the most common commercial products you will find available for your dogs at pet stores here in Deschutes County.
1) Rawhides – Compressed Fat- given on a regular basis can lead to obesity. Make sure they are made in the USA – products from outside the USA may contain arsenic, formaldehyde, and portions of dog skin. They are fully digestible, but when moistened they can be more appealing to try and swallow and lead to a choking potential.
2) Marrow Bones/ butcher bones- Make sure produced in the USA – Make sure you get large chews for more aggressive chewers to prevent direct vertical pressure leading to dental fractures. Pros: Lower cost, readily available Cons: can leave a bigger mess, known to get stuck around lower jaw if not taken away when they are small, possible intestinal blockage/splintering, marrow is 60% fat and can lead to GI upset, and can fracture teeth
3) Elk/Deer/Moose Antlers – Pros: Renewable resource, 100 % natural, locally made in Bend, no odor, no mess/non-staining, and although a higher initial investment can last long periods of times. Cons: Higher cost, can lead to fractured teeth (be sure to get larger antlers for aggressive chewers to prevent direct vertical pressures if it all fits in their mouths), not every dog will take to chewing on them.
4) Nylabones- Pros: Promote healthy chewing, not likely to cause dental fractures, last longer times, no additional calories. Cons: Non-digestible, known to cause intestinal obstruction, imitation products on the market.
5) Kong Toys – Pros: Reusable, natural rubber, durable, non-staining (unless you stuff it with Peanut Butter), no odor, long lasting, good variety of sizes, Cons: Can be chewed into smaller pieces, many dogs don’t like them unless they are stuffed, and uncertain of true dental cleaning benefit due to soft and smooth texture. .
6) Greenines/Dental Bones- Pros: Fully digestible, great for cleaning teeth, Make sure they are made in the USA, Cons: can be more expensive for larger breeds, recommended each day, have caused intestinal blockage in select cases, and can cause GI sensitivity/allergies.
*** Remember you can never offer too big of a bone or antler but you can offer too small of one. Dogs who are aggressive chewers or tend to be scarfers need to have larger chews to prevent dental trauma from direct vertical pressure of their dental arcades. Not one chew is perfect for each pet. Please monitor your pets with any new chew. All chews can cause a choking hazard. Be sure to remove chews that are getting to small. Note raw bones can promote bacterial growth- Refreezing is recommended to kill off bacteria.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.
Chad Moles DVM