I'm sure my dogs have a long list of things about me they would like to change. They probably wish I stayed home all day and they would certainly put an end to any no dog outings that my husband I take. Treat dispensing would increase a thousand fold and all kibble meals would be accompanied by hamburgers in pizza crust, in fact we could just hold the kibble. Tooth brushing and baths would be out and four hour park walks and eating goose poop would be in. One thing they would change for sure, they'd make me less stingy about chews. If it was up to them I'm sure they would be enjoying about ten chewies a day.
I certainly cant blame them, all dogs have a natural instinct to chew and as pet owners its our responsibility to provide our furry companions with appropriate chews. However, with all the chewies on the market finding the right one can be pretty overwhelming.
In fact I am so confused by the plethora of chewable treats available and the various risks and benefits that accompany each of them that I don't really give my dogs chewies that often. Recently though I've decided to try to give in and provide them a little more chewy time. Weasley constantly snacking on my slippers while they are still on my feet is a pretty powerful motivator.
I did some reading up on chews and then ordered some venison tracheas from doggie loot.
|Eeek they look gross. If you are a human you are probably gagging if you are a dog your drooling.|
After reading about dog health and watching my own dogs and listening to friends stories I've learned some chewy safety guide lines. This is by no means a complete list and I welcome suggestions.
1) Buy American or Canadian made chews and really read the label. We all know treats from China are bad, unfortunately there are still a lot of them out there. Also some chews say made in the USA but the meet products are from china. It is important to read the entire label and make sure that at no time has any part of your dogs treats be in china. If in doubt you can call the company.
2) Avoid unnatural additives like food coloring and chemicals. Dogs do not care what color their food is so why on earth do they need a dyed red rawhide chew.
A better choice is a natural chew such dried trachea, antlers, Himalayan chews, or pizzles.
3) Bigger is better. Get the right size chew for your pup, that means the chew should be significantly bigger then your dogs mouth in order to prevent them from gulping it down. This is particularly important with brachycephalic, flat faced breeds, like pugs and bulldogs. These dogs have large mouths and small tracheas so they may bite of a large piece of chew and then choke on it. When my pugs and bulldog have worked their chews down to small lengths I take them away and dispose of them.
|This is a big chew for Weasley so he can't easily gulp it down.|
4) Avoid chews with chunks that will break off. I don't feed my dogs raw hides or Greenies because I feel that these treats tend to break into big chunks that they will then gulp down. I've heard plenty of horror stories of intestinal blockages caused this way. I do give my dogs Nylabones because they love them, but I'm thinking I'm going to stop this too. It is just not worth the risk.
5) Know your dog. Some dogs are worse gulpers then others. I know that Tubby, Bob, and Weasley tend to gulp their chews, particularly Bob. I've had to pull a chunk of chewy out of Tubby's throat on at least one occasion and Bob has vomited several times while having chews. For that reason I watch them very closely when they have their treats. I usually take Bob's chews away before he is finished or else he will throw up.
Bob is a gulper but Ping is a more delicate chewer.
6) Separate your dogs. If you have more then one dog, even if they get along really well, you need to separate them when they have high value chews, otherwise you are asking for a dog fight. I use baby gates and crates for this. The dogs are happier too since they feel more secure that their precious chewies are safe.
In all honesty chew treats still make me a little nervous but with these guidelines I should be able to let my dogs enjoy one of their favorite activities more often. Happy Chewing!