All dogs need to chew, alot when they’re young and a little less over time. Chewing (Gnawing) is normal and beneficial. Anxious dogs, or just dogs who have anxious moments, need to chew. Do you want them to chew your house, shoes, remote control, something that will result in expensive dangerous consequences like obstruction, perforation and surgery? Either you decide what to put in their mouths (and take a calculated minimal risk) or they will make the decision for you. You won’t like their choices.
We don’t recommend antlers, hooves, horns or real bones of any kind because dogs will break their teeth and get into other trouble. We don’t recommend knotted or bulky shapes unless you have a very big talented dog who enjoys unraveling knots or separating braided shapes into more manageable strips. We don’t recommend plastic chews because they form sharp ridges that slice the inside of your dog’s mouth, aren’t natural or satisfying for dogs to chew, and don’t show up on radiographs if ingested (old dried plastic will crack off in chunks).
We feel comfortable recommending beef rawhides in strips, sticks (granulated sticks, too), and rolls depending on your dog’s size and chewing style. Some dogs get upset tummies with some treats, so find ones that your friend can digest. We also recommend treats that don’t last too long and can be finished in one session; they’re not meant to last! Some dogs get very possessive over treats that hang around unfinished. Let them enjoy their chew treat undisturbed, and you’ll have a happy dog.
Offer young dogs up to several chew treats a day. They may be teething, and their energy level is through the roof. Dogs at any age will enjoy a chew treat at bedtime to help them settle in for the night. When you leave for work, give them a chew to release some separation anxiety and give them something to look forward to when you go. If your dog is restless between walks, chewing out their frustration on an appropriate target will be a relief to everyone.
Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, MSc, Dip. ACVB is a board certified veterinary behaviorist and founder of www.CivilizedPet.com. If you need help with a misbehaving pet, please visit www.petbehavior.org.
© Stefanie Schwartz 2019