Choosing a Chew Toy for your dog

Picking the right chew toy for your dog can be difficult. It’s important to provide your dog with safe, appropriate toys to chew on to prevent him or her from chewing on things they shouldn’t (shoes, clothes, electrical cords, etc.) Chewing also helps exercise their jaw muscles and prevent boredom. Giving your dog a chew toy when you leave can be a good way to settle any anxious behavior in dogs that get upset with their owners leave. But which toys are good for your dog to chew on? It depends on your dog’s size and propensity to chew. Some dogs are destructive chewers and will tear virtually any toy apart, while other dogs may chew on the toy for years without any signs of wear on the toy.

Toys that are soft, such as stuffed animals, and braided ropes can be easily torn into pieces and ingested. Most of the time, they will pass through the GI tract, but sometimes they become lodged in the stomach or intestines, requiring surgical removal. Intestinal surgery can be risky, and is expensive for the pet owner.

Some toys, such as rawhides, bully sticks, and pig’s ears, are meant to be ingested. Some dogs will chew off and swallow large pieces, and they may cause stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea. Dogs with known food allergies should not be given these toys.

Hard plastic toys and bones, hooves and antlers are more durable, but very commonly cause tooth fractures. Veterinary dentists strongly discourage use of these toys for that reason. Tooth fractures are quite painful and usually require extraction or a root canal. If left untreated, they can also lead to tooth root abscesses.

Rubber toys, such as Kongs, are good for most dogs to chew on. They can be stuffed with food or treats and are difficult for dogs to tear apart, yet gentle on the teeth. Some dogs can still chew pieces off and ingest them, so if your dog is an aggressive chewer, he/she should be supervised when playing with these toys.

In general, it is wise to supervise your dog when he or she is chewing, especially if it is a toy that is new to them. If your dog is tearing pieces off, the toy should be thrown away. Any vomiting or diarrhea after ingesting any chew toy should be reported to your veterinarian.