Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Staying Safe With Chewies

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!


  1. Great article. I've avoided chews for years - for the same reasons you stated. Plus, as I've read packages of some, I've wondered where the "meat" came from and if those critters were give growth hormones, etc. Just don't trust the food supply...

  2. That is a great post and you have pointed out some good things to be aware of and some handy tips. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. Well said! I, too, avoid rawhide and greenies. I still remember the first greenie Wilson ever encountered. He swallowed it whole! And freaked me out! I use large raw marrow bones too big to swallow or get caught on their lower jaw. I also use Merrick Wishbones, which are really just dried achilles tendon. They last a good 10-15 minutes with my tough chewers. I used to use bully sticks but they are too hard and Wilson broke a molar on one.

  4. Oh I really loved this post!! I also struggle with which chewies are best for all our pugs. I have finally settled on bully sticks, and they like the twisted type. They seem to last a long time and when they start to look gross they go in the trash. They are expensive but worth the price. I like your suggestion of giving them their chews in their own space. I have noticed that even tho each of mine have a chew they constantly seek out each others which causes the dreaded fight in our house. I brought home a different type of chew the other night and only one cos I didn't think anyone would want it and of course they all want it and fight over it all the time. We finally had to put it up until we can get two more! Thanks again!!
    Stella Rose's Momma

  5. We never feed rawhides either because they are the only chew our dogs have ever choked on. It's once they are chewing them they go all gooey and then slip down their throat in big chunks - so we avoid them.

    Instead we give them dried meat chews - like the venison chews in this post - they also love tripe sticks!

    The best thing we have found for them is a big raw meaty bone, they love them best!!!

  6. Shudder~~~~~~~~~~~
    LOL, those dogs, they'll eat anything wont they :)
    Lynne x

  7. You're right, those tracheas are, well, let's face it they're icky...but thank you for posting such important tips about providing chews safely

  8. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Mommy get's me super hard natural chews so they clean my teeth..I nearly chocked to death on hide.. I chewed it till it was a sticky lump, then swallowed it.. Yikes I was nearly a gonna..BOL well a little eggsagerated..BOL xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  10. OK here's a challenge! Could anyone please recommend some nice chewy treats for Bertie that will keep him happy on a long train journey? So they must be long lasting, not make a mess on the floor, tasty enough to keep him interested but not so rich that there is a danger of an upset stomach (we will be visiting my elderly parents). Oh and available in the UK of course.
    Any ideas gratefully received. Choking has not so far seemed to be an issue with him.
    Cheers, Gail
    PS He showed no interest in deer antlers - too hard I think.

  11. You have hit pretty much all the points there are re chews! This is such important information to share. I am with you - chews make me nervous. With Noodles, everything is gulpable (yeah, I made that word up). Molly is not such a problem because she chews and does not ingest much. We have given them Greenies in the past but after our FURiend Opaka ended up with a blockage, I think these are gonna be limited or eliminated from their treat jar. We have also tried Bully Sticks, squares of rawhide, and assorted long lasting treats. One by one we have had to eliminate them because of Ms. Noodles and her likelihood of choking. HimalayanYak Chews are our go-to chewie because they are long lasting and very hard.
    That said, I seldom give them stuff to chew on and never give it to them unsupervised.
    Love Noodles's Mommy

  12. Good tips all around that people should be aware of!

  13. We love chewies....fresh beef shank bones best. We grab our bones and go find somewhere private the enjoy them. Roxy tends to try to grab someone's bones, if they're not careful.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  14. I so hear you on being nervous about chews...especially with my swallow-it-whole girl Gracie Lynn.
    Thanks for the information and I might need to give that trachea a try with the pugs...perhaps Christmas?!?
    Much Love,
    Mindy :)

  15. You've made such a great list for happy chewing! Baby gate is a great idea. That dose make them feel secure and enjoy their chews :-)

  16. We are on an endless quest to find chews that are safe, last, and keep Greta interested. She was so naughty and into everything when she was little I would give her something to chew on so I could get ready for work and in the evening about an hour before bed so I could sit down and relax. Now she expects it at those times. I have to admit she has had a lot of rawhide chews but never unattended. If it starts coming apart in pieces or gets too small it is thrown away. I just ordered some Himilayan Chews today, and she likes the hedgehog chews that are made from potato starch. We just bought a rubber toy at Petco called a holey roller. some of the too small pieces of hedgehogs and himilayan fit inside. Kept her entertained for a long time, but also got her wound up. Bailey is pretty good with dental chews. Hazel we have to be careful, if she thinks you might take it away she will try to swallow it, so she doesn't get many chews.

  17. Thank you for all the loves you have been sending to me. Me and moms feel your love- and we are so thankfuls.
    Moms have a hard time finding something safe for me to chew on.
    Your post is wonderful- and maybe when moms have time they will check in more detail-- for some treats for me.
    Oh I have a pen- like your white one. Moms were using it to keep me quiet- but I try to get out of it- so they cannot use it.

  18. Great advice! We loved our visit to your city by the way :)

    Stop on by for a visit

  19. Great tip on separating them. It prevents a lot of unwanted bloodshed.

    And thanks for informing me about the brachycephalic thing. Didn't know they have bigger mouths. ^_^

  20. What a great post, great information! My three would love a bully stick everyday! I probably would, if I could afford it.

  21. Great advice, and I just adore that group photo!

  22. A very nice checklist of things to look for in a chew. That first picture of all your sweeties is ADORABLE.

  23. my girls almost never get chews, because i'm so worried about them, and we have to keep their weight down because they both have bad joints so it is easier to cut out treats. i bought them some great dried sweet potato chews while we were in california and i'm going to order some more once the bag is empty! they are JUST sweet potato, are pretty big and take a long time for my almost toothless old ladies to get through. i bought them a bully stick for Phyllis' birthday last year, but it grossed me out to much, and STUNK!