To Chew or What Not to Chew

Just like us, dogs need to live healthy lifestyles. So, it is truly up to us, their caregivers, to make sure that our pooch pals stay in good physical and mental states. That’s why knowing the facts about certain issues is key to helping Fido maintain his exuberance in life. I don’t know about you, but when I see my dog happy, I’m happy, too. So, here’s a rule of thumb: Know what you are putting in your dog’s mouth.

Now, have been in the pet industry for quite some time now. I have had people ask me where they can find the cutest dog sweaters. I have had people inquire about the healthiest food to purchase. I even have had people ask me if we carried dog goggles! (And, indeed we did.) I have seen many dog trends come and go. But every day on the job, I encountered the same story and the same question time and time again: “My dog ate my favorite pair of running shoes. He destroyed all the paper towels in the house. He even chewed a hole through the sofa. What can I do to stop my dog from chewing everything in sight?” And provided there were no medical problems, I always offered the same advice: “Sounds like you need to purchase some chew toys.” Most of my customers would politely nod and walk directly toward the rawhide isle. I knew to expect that. So, instead of allowing them make a potentially dog-threatening mistake, I followed with a few suggestions in tow.

Sure, rawhide may seem like the perfect option; it is cheap, it is yummy, and it is all natural, right? Cheap and yummy maybe, but all naturalâÂ?¦ maybe not. You see, not all chew toys are the made same. And just because they are sold in pet stores, does not mean they are safe. Before you find the solution to Fido’s bad chewing habit, you may first want to consider what you are putting in his mouth. So, how do you determine if a chew toy is safe to give your pup to keep him out of trouble? You just need to know the risks of what you buy.

Here is a list of different chew toys on the market, divided into two categories: “Beware” and “Smart Buy.” Once you do your research, you can decide for yourself what to purchase for your pet. After all, your dog’s health and happiness is the most important thing, wouldn’t you say?

Beware:

Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Rawhide: Do you know what rawhide really is? Rawhide is simply the skin of a cow. Natural rawhide tastes similar to beef. That is why it is so satisfying to dogs. But it is very dangerous for dogs, as well, for many reasons. First of all, there is a choking hazard associated with rawhide. If pieces of rawhide are swallowed whole, or even in big chunks, they can get stuck inside your dog’s throat. If choking does not occur, then the pieces can actually scrape the dog’s throat and esophagus on the way down to his stomach. Talk about a sore throat! Here is another thought to consider: Have you ever noticed how wet and gummy rawhide becomes once your dog starts to chew it? Now, imagine yourself swallowing wads and wads of chewing gum. See the similarity? Rawhide can create a physical obstruction inside the intestinal track. Also, rawhide is not regulated in many countries. And in some these countries, arsenic-based products are used as a preservative in rawhides. Yep, you read correctly-arsenic. I do not think I have to explain the danger in arsenic consumption.

�¯�¿�½ Pig ears: Ah, dried pig ears. Greasy, dirty, nasty dried pig ears. Well, not only are they quite disgusting, they, too, can cause blockages. Also, pig ears can potentially be threatening to humans. Early in 2000, the FDA placed an advisory stating that pork-related dog chews may contain salmonella. So, if you are handling pig ears, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.

Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Cow Hooves: Before I realized the danger associated with cow hooves, I bought them all the time for my dog. I stopped when I learned that a dog could actually break a tooth when chewing a hoof. I at first thought to myself, “Come on. There is no way stores would sell these things if they could actually injure dogs. After all, they are just chew toys.” So, I looked inside my dog’s mouth, and lo and behold, I found that her right canine tooth was missing its tip. Now, I do not have proof that a cow hoof broke my dog’s tooth, but when we first brought her home from the pound, all her teeth were in perfect condition. One year later, she had a broken tooth. Yep, I feel terrible. Anyway, I guess that my dog was lucky because worse could have happened. Sharp, uneven pieces from the cow hoof can be swallowed and tear the wall of the bowl. If this occurs, infection is almost definite. And so is death.

Smart Buy:

Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Nylabone! Nylabone! I love Nylabones. And so does my dog. Nylabones are made from pure nylon, which makes them exceptionally strong. Unlike rawhide, they will not splinter or break into chunks. They are completely digestible and are made with the most aggressive chewers in mind. When the Nylabone is chewed into a stump, throw it away and buy a new one. If you want more information about Nylabones, check out http://www.nylabone.com/. You’ll get rewarded with tail wags and intact furniture.

�¯�¿�½ Cornstarch bones: Provided that your dog does not have food allergies, cornstarch bones could be a healthy way to stop your aggressive chewer from destroying anything else. Bones made from cornstarch are perfectly safe to eat. The Booda Company actually makes cornstarch toys that are completely free of preservatives and contain no animal by-products.

�¯�¿�½ Rubber bones and toys: I have had no luck with rubber toys, but I know many people who have. If you are a dog owner, chances are you have heard of the Kong. The Kong is a practically indestructible toy that offers your dog hours of nondestructive fun. Just stick a treat inside the Kong and watch your dog try to get it out. This product is good for his teeth and his brain.
Now, I realize that many people have been buying rawhide for years and they swear that it will not harm their dogs. It is just that I have seen too many dogs hurt by such products. If you feel that your dog simply must have his rawhide chews, then my advice is to stick to compressed rawhide. This kind of rawhide will not break off or splinter. Also, be sure to buy rawhide that is made in North America. That way you can be sure there is no risk of pesky arsenic poisoning.

We all just want our best friends to be happy and healthy. And, when I come home to a happy, bouncing dog and realize that she has not destroyed my favorite chair that makes me a happy lady. Like mentioned before, your dog’s health and happiness is the most important thing. So, when there are so many other products to choose from, why choose rawhide?

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