Canine Dental Hygiene and Chews
It is very mentally satisfying for a dog to chew. This is a primal DNA trait from their natural feeding routine. In the wild it serves to shred and tear meat, crush and chew small bones all into small chunks they can swallow. Animals naturally know what they need to nurture them in life and they seek it out. Chewing and gnawing on raw meaty bones is naturally good for teeth and soothing for the mind. To help them with baby teeth they chew. To fill their stomachs they chew. Dogs love to chew.
There will be different reasons to choose a particular chew for your dog. As an example my foundation bitch got chews every single day of her life. She was lucky with good genetics and had great teeth, and when she passed at age 14 she had never had her teeth cleaned and had a full mouth of healthy teeth. As she got older her chewing needs changed.
I have had some dogs that needed a couple of cleanings in their lifetime, and even had a couple of molars removed from fractures. Today the vets try to get you to get your dog’s teeth done every couple of years. Chews saved me a lot of money on teeth cleanings and the need to put chemicals in my dog’s body to put her under for the cleanings.
Chews serve many areas, some primal, some conventional:
Brings Mental Balance-through the primal act of chewing and gnawing on bones.
Keeps Teeth Clean-through the natural action of chewing, and can replace some or all of the customary teeth cleanings, where your dog has to be under, and is quite costly now.
Keep Mentally Occupied-providing your dog with new chews can keep him or her occupied when you need some quiet.
Keeps puppies from chewing on other things.
Expend Excessive Energy.
As a reward after training and working for you, a chew cannot be beat.
Boneless chews are a 100% digestible whole food product and nutritious.
To learn more about how to use chews in a training routine, consider doing a one-hour phone consult, click here for more information. I can also assist you with natural feeding. It is important to choose the right chew for the right reason, and always supervise your dogs when chewing. The best chew for one dog is not the best for another. There are many factors in choosing and I can cover that in your consult.
NOTE: The information presented here reflects many years of my personal experience, and testing. I have not however tested everything on every type and size of dog. Make your choices of chews wisely after much consideration. I only give an overview here, but again a consult is recommended to avoid costly mistakes, and to maximize the benefits of chews. In the end you are always responsible for your final choices and outcome from that. You owe it to your dog to research your choices beside what I offer you here.
Remember each dog will chew different, and you may choose a chew that last shorter or longer, softer or harder for certain reasons. The only way you know how a dog will do with a certain chew is to watch them chew. Some dogs chew nice and slow, and a less aggressive chew might work for a longer period of time, where an aggressive chewer needs a tougher chew. Some dogs swallow chunks, and some do not. But in the end a dog can choke on anything even a small piece of dry kibble. So I highly recommend you take the American Red Cross' Pet CPR and First Aid Course.
I have listed below some of the chews I have used in the past for my dogs. I have a mix bag of chewers in my pack. Because of age and chewing preference they all have different needs. I do not feed rawhide, as they are usually processed with a lot of bad chemicals, and are a source of impaction for dogs as well due to the lack of digestibility. I also do not feed certain bones due to information provided to me by a Board Certified Doggy Dentist about slab fractures.
Because Bully sticks meet all areas they will remain one of my favorites. You still need to choose the right size for the dog. This is a very long lasting chew if you get the right size for the dog. It has many lengths and some very interesting shapes for your dog. My dog have particularly liked the braided, but the shaped ones seem to last the longest. Some batches have a slight odor to them, but not much, so don't let that turn you off of the bully sticks. There are also some that are odor free due to a longer drying time. There are no dyes or chemicals, and I have never had one stain any carpet or flooring. If you get a dog that tries to bite down in the middle this could be a problem. I can help you analyze your dog’s chewing habits in the consult as well.
This is a good chew depending on how your dog chews. Only two of my 5 dogs would chew them. I personally love the smell, and it is extremely nutritious for anyone to eat. It smells and tastes like smoked cheese. It is actually eaten by the very people who make them. This one can last a long time if they lick and gnaw that is better, but if they like to bite chunks off it won’t last as long. If your dog likes to swallow chunks then this one may not be a good choice.
This chew is one of my favorites and meets all the areas very nicely. It is also a mainstay in my house. They have a few different sizes, and types such as beef, lamb and buffalo, along with smoked. They are great for moderate to easy chewers, but also puppies. Plus they are not overly expensive. They have no smell except for the smoked one, and will not stain carpet.
My dogs liked this one as long as they were not smoked too much. They do not last as long for larger dogs, but they love them. I have had some that were too heavily smoked and it was not so good for their digestive tract. The smoked ones will smell up any surface it touches so maybe best outside. For the cost of these and how long they last I did not see them as being very economical and not on the top of my list.
This chew almost meets all five areas, but does not last as long as the others unless it is a small dog, puppy, or easy chewer. It does have a slight film on it, but is not greasy, and does not smell. I have not had one leave a stain either. All my dogs love these, and the shape lends itself to a very effective teeth-cleaning chew. For fun treats they have these in the small squares and they are one of my favorites. Not an all out chew, but a pretty good lasting treat. It is a little odd looking for some folks, but dogs surely don’t care.
Texas Taffy/Beef Jerky/Gullet Wraps
This item did not meet all areas, except for very small dog, young puppies, or old dogs. It just did not last long enough for my younger dogs, but is fantastic for my old dogs. In fact as my dogs have aged two of them would only eat this chew. This would also be a great chew for dogs that have missing teeth. Also dogs with very few teeth if you soak this in the refrigerator it will soak the water up and soften it. Then dogs with very little teeth can chew on it and it will be soft to the gums, yet they will get that stimulation they crave from the act of chewing, despite the lack of teeth.
This item meets all areas. They have two sizes as of this writing, regular and monster. The regular don’t last long for aggressive chewers, but is still a nice change for them. They are also good for puppies, and small or old dogs. The monsters are good for the more aggressive chewers. It is dense but has a little softer texture so it also good for puppies.
The item did not meet all areas. I have not done these in awhile because they ate them fast and they were very messy. I do know they changed the stuffing at one point, so you might just want to try one to see if you like them yourself.
These did not meet all of my areas, but are still pretty cool. They did not last that long for my dogs, but I highly recommend these for smaller dogs, and very young puppies. Very clean and dry, and a nutritious treat or chew, although not all my dogs cared for them.
These products are more a treat then a chew, except for maybe tea cups a very small puppies. Yet I highly recommend lungs of all kinds. They have beef, lamb, and pork, maybe more now. Great to break up for training treats, because it is a 100% meat product and you know what your dog is getting.
This one varies so much from batch to batch and this is particularly true of the tripe wafers. They get some softer thinner ones and some thick harder ones. I like them both for different dogs. I like the light thin ones for my older dogs, but on my last order they were thicker. They are good for more aggressive chewers. The picture they use did not always correspond to what you got. Maybe they will have fixed this by the time you read this, just be aware. You cannot go wrong buying these for dogs, they go nuts over tripe.
For those with carpet you will want this one to be fed outdoor as it has a slight odor. If it is green tripe it has a strong odor. The regular thin wafers have almost no odor at all. I have not ordered these in some time so am not sure what they have at the moment.
Antlers and Chew Hooves
I have been told by many that it is the only thing that holds up to their aggressive chewers but the canine dentist does not like them at all, as they see a lot of slab fractures to molars because of them.
They do not meet all areas. They are not very long lasting except for the smallest and youngest dogs. This is a softer chew so would be really great for very old dogs, or ones with not so good teeth. A great short term chew for after training, but would only give outdoors. They do have a pretty stinky smell. The worst of any chew I have fed except green tripe.
Cow Snouts and Cheeks
These meet all my areas. I have not see the cheeks in some time, but is a good chew and dogs love it. They are not hard to chew, which means it would be great for young dogs, puppies, small dogs, yet is large enough to last somewhat long. The cheeks are a little harder then the snouts, and you can cut the long ones up to make more of them. These have always been a favorite of my dogs. The rolled cow cheeks last the longest of these.
Kangaroo Flaps/Other thick Jerky’s
These to not meet all area, because they won’t last very long for most dogs. They are good for smaller dogs, puppies and older dogs. Again you can soak these to soften them for dogs with fewer teeth. It is a good longer lasting treat for larger dogs. And you can get more value by quartering them. I find a lot of dogs have a tendency to bite off chunks with this one, so if you have a dog like that you might want to consider something different. I have soaked them for my older dogs to chew, even though they had full teeth, when you get older what you provide them will need to be more enticing and softened seem to do that. I have had a couple of mine that would bite it into very large chunks and swallow, having a hard time because they are dry, so I switched to another product for them.
Does not meet all of the areas, but is still a great fast chew; long treat reward, and training reward. It can also be part of your dog’s meal. Your dog will need to be a good chewer for this, most of mine where except for one. A lot of my clients buy them from me to try and then just use my link and buy them in the large bag. I admit the feet are a little creepy but a good fun treat.
I have given my dogs many more than the above, but this should give you a good idea and get you thinking in the right direction, and I can help you further with a consult. If you are local, I often have over a dozen different chews here for my clients to experiment with their dogs to find out what works for them. From there they can order them via my link in large quantities. If you buy a larger amount to get a better price, I did find that you do need to freeze what you are not going to use up in about 30 days. After 20 years of experiments, research, and learning from Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery Specialist, I have a lot of experience to offer you in assistance.
Best Bully Sticks is a great company to order from. They are fast with deliveries. Sometimes the product will vary, which they can do nothing about, so ask them to look the product they have if you want to be sure it is like the last one you ordered... if there is a danger of differences. I have never seen any differences in most products, but a few you will.
Thank you again for visiting and consider a one hour consult, which is only $40 via pay pal and can help you greatly with chew direction. Also please use my Best Bully Sticks link when you order. The small commission helps support the training and care of K9 Search and Rescue dogs.
Kim Willis, Master K9 Trainer, Owner/Operator