Chewing is a very natural behaviour for dogs but when your favourite couch or pair of shoes is on the receiving end, then it maybe time to explore chew toys for your pet.

What makes a good chew toy?

Firstly it is important that chew toys should have the following features:-

  • Made of safe material
  • Size – large enough that your dog can’t “swallow”
  • Without small parts, buttons, strings – that can be swallowed (similar to children’s toys)
  • Easy to wash
  • Durable
  • Show no signs of deterioration

There are a range of very durable rubber toys we recommend including Kong toys and Gumabones. Kongs come in various shapes and sizes and also can be filled with treats to keep a curious canine entertained for hours. Whilst toys specifically designed for chewing are safe for most pets they should be regularly evaluated for deterioration and replaced when necessary.

So why is it so important to select the right toy for your pet?

As veterinarians we see the unfortunate side of a combination of curiosity and a relentless love of chewing the unknown. Injuries include dental chips and broken teeth, eye and mouth injuries and foreign body injury which often results in surgery and the extraction of many interesting items from the stomach and intestines of pets.

Pets who have consumed a foreign body often arrive to us showing some of the following signs. Vomiting, reluctance to eat, stretch out regularly like they are uncomfortable, have abdominal pain and do not appear to be themselves. Treatment in most cases involves surgery and hospitalised care.

What are some items we have extracted from pet’s stomachs?

We have retrieved many items from pet stomach’s the most dangerous are those that have sharp edges which can tear at the internal lining of the stomach and intestinal tract.

  • Rubber pieces (normally from rubber balls not meant for chewing),
  • Tennis ball fragments,
  • Cotton,
  • Rocks,
  • Stone fruit pips (such as nectarines, peaches),
  • Clothing (socks, gloves, underwear),
  • Corn cobs,
  • Bones and bone shards (feed only large raw bones under supervision and remember bones are for chewing on not through),
  • Towels,
  • Plastic,
  • Shoe inner soles,
  • Lead sinkers,
  • Dental floss, just to name a few.

For the love of a stick – a special note

We know, dogs love sticks. They love to chase them, catch them, retrieve them and most of all chew on them. But are they really safe for your companion? As you are probably about to guess, no. Not only can a stick cause intestinal damage should any wooden fragments be consumed, but also running with a stick can lead to eye, and mouth injuries (yes we see these too).

Understanding why dog’s chew

Dogs, especially puppies are extremely playful and investigative. While play with people and other dogs is an important part of socialisation and social development, exploration and object play are important ways for dogs to learn about their environment. Therefore it is a normal behaviour for puppies to investigate their environment by sniffing, tasting and perhaps chewing on objects throughout the home. Dogs that chew may also be scavenging for food (as in garbage raiding), playing (as in the dog that chews apart a book or couch), teething (dogs 3 to 6 months of age that chew on household objects), or satisfying a natural urge to chew and gnaw (which may serve to help keep teeth and gums healthy). Some dogs may chew because they receive attention (even if it is negative) or treats from the owners each time they chew, and the owners are inadvertently rewarding the behaviour. Chewing and destructive behaviours may also be a response to anxiety. Dogs that are confined in areas where they are insecure may dig and chew in an attempt to escape. Dogs that are in a state of conflict, arousal or anxiety, such as separation anxiety, may turn to chewing and other forms of destructiveness as an outlet. Find out more about why dogs chew here

Chew toys are just one solution for a dog that loves to chew. If your pet is suffering from destructive behaviour or is showing signs of anxiety please talk to one of our healthcare team for more information and tips.