Who would think life could get so complicated but here’s some important info on buying dog chews. We’re not talking about the yummy, edible treats. We’re just talking about the chews that are made for chewing but not swallowing.
Are dog chews safe? You would think they are if they’re for sale in pet stores right? Well, most non-edible chews are usually safe but some are much safer than others. Some dog chews are intensely engineered for safety while others are engineered to produce maximum profit for the manufacturer.
Just because they’re for sale doesn’t mean they are strong or even sanitary. So, how can a pet owner tell which chews are safest? Just being thoughtful of your selection in respect to size, origin, appearance and label information will help you make a winning decision.
Let’s start by picking a chew size that couldn’t possibly fit down your dog’s throat. That’s important! We’ve heard it before, “I gave my dog the cute size even though he’s large and he swallowed it”. Yikes! That, for sure warrants a visit to the vet. No need to wait. Why would a dog just swallow the chew whole? It’s not complicated. Some dogs like to swallow stuff and it just seems like the right thing to do at the time. Maybe he’s a tad bit hungry or maybe he wants to be sure you don’t take it away.
Most chews have dog size recommendations printed on the package. Use these recommendations and if in doubt, always default to the larger size. Also, if you have multiple dogs then make sure your selection is for the largest dog in the house. Never make small chews available to larger dogs.
Select a chew that’s dimensionally larger at the ends than at the shaft. The ends of the bones are always the areas that are chewed. For example, a real bone has a shaft and relatively larger ends that form a part of the joint. Real bones are perfectly shaped for chewing but they can splinter. Dogs don’t have the ability to chew much on the shaft. They usually grind on the ends with their molars which are largest, strongest teeth with the most leverage. That’s why you always see dogs chewing with the sides of their mouths.
Be sure it’s a design that won’t break off in large chunks or sharp pieces. It needs to be structurally durable. Stay away from spindly or thin shaped chews. An appropriately sized and correctly shaped nylon bone should be perfectly safe and satisfying. Look at BarkBones for example. They’re manufactured with robust dimensions over the entire length of the chew. There are other companies that do the same but you need to be sort out the ones that try to skimp on nylon. Stay away from bones that have holes that could get hung up on his snout or lower jaw.
Most dog chews are made from either nylon or polypropylene. Nylon is the most prevalent and ideal material for aggressive chewers. It’s extremely durable and holds up well to serious chomping. Polypropylene is a softer material and is usually marketed for “moderate chewers” such as senior dogs. Polypropylene can be chewed into bits much faster than nylon so it’s good to always be watchful. Dogs usually spit out the little pieces they chew off. If some tiny grain sized pieces are swallowed there’s no need for alarm as they will safely pass.
When selecting nylon chews it’s always nice to see “FDA compliant” or “FDA certified” noted on the package. This insures that the chew was made from pure material that hasn’t been recycled or blended with substandard resins. Recycled nylon is cheap and does not retain the original properties of the virgin nylon.
Lastly, buy Made in USA. This gives you some assurance that it was manufactured with all of the foregoing in mind.