Has your dog chewed today? Though many dogs stop constantly chewing once all of their permanent teeth have grown in (roughly by 7 months of age,) there’s many reasons why most of them need to chew regularly throughout their life.
Chewing For Dental Health
Though you should brush your dog’s teeth daily, or at least a few times per week, you will not be able to reach all surfaces of each tooth. When your dog chews, they engage all of their teeth, both at the front of their mouth, and their molars in the back, to grind and pull away small edible pieces from their bone or chew toy. This chewing action chips away at hardened plaque and prevents tartar buildup. Chewing also stimulates saliva production, aiding in digestion and helping prevent dental disease.
Chewing To Fight Boredom
Every edible piece that tears away from your dog’s bone stimulates their appetite and encourages them to keep chewing. This highly rewarding activity requires your dog to concentrate, finding the perfect way to hold their bone and chew on it just right to get tasty results. When your dog is chewing a bone or chew toy, they will be too occupied to chew on inappropriate household objects or otherwise get into mischief.
Chewing As A Form Of Exercise
Chewing is physically demanding on your dog’s neck, jaws and shoulders. Over time, chewing strengthens your dog’s muscles in those areas. In the short term, they will exert themselves, even though this is a relatively low-impact activity compared to a run or a game of fetch. When your dog is on bedrest due to an illness or recent surgery, downtime in their crate with a good chew is a convenient way to help them get a workout when they otherwise cannot be active.
The Risks Of Chewing Bones
Every bone or chew toy comes with risks. Ideally, your dog should gradually chip away and swallow small pieces of the bone. If the bone is not tough enough for your dog, they may break off large chunks, which can get stuck in your dog’s throat or digestive system. This can lead to an emergency vet visit, surgery, or fatal injuries. If your dog’s bone is too hard, however, it can crack their teeth. Then, they will need surgery to remove or repair the cracked tooth.
No dog bone is risk-free. A bone that is appropriate for one dog may be deadly to another. It is imperative that you watch your dog when they are chewing on a bone. If you notice your dog is breaking off large chunks you will need to take the bone away. Always trade the bone for a small treat to prevent resource guarding, and do not give bones to dogs that become aggressive over them.
Which Bones Are Best?
Cooked bones from your dinner are never appropriate for dogs. Once bones are cooked, they are prone to splintering. Machine cut bones, like those from pork chops, have sharp edges that can injure your dog’s mouth or digestive system. Raw meaty bones from your butcher are safer, though you’ll need to find the appropriate bones for your dog’s size, and teach them to chew carefully instead of gulping.
A dry-cured bone can potentially splinter, but since it is not cooked at a high temperature, it is safe for most dogs.
An antler does not splinter, and can last a very long time. However, they are also very hard and can cause tooth fractures in vigorous chewers.
A Nylabone is non-edible, and not all dogs find them tempting, though many enjoy the ones that are infused with flavours. As your dog chews, they will shave off tiny pieces of plastic smaller than a grain of rice. These shavings can pass through your dog harmlessly, though you should take the bone away if they are able to break off large pieces.