When it comes to chewing, our dogs aren’t always the pickiest: sticks can be shredded in minutes; couch cushions are always fair game; and what’s-that-in-the-yard-I’ll-eat-it-anyway can be a daily occurrence. It has been suggested that dogs chew for every reason from curiosity to boredom, and it’s because of this “chew anything” mentality that the power of pet parenting is even more important.
Go to any pet store and you’ll find entire aisles dedicated to chews for your dog.
Most chews look innocent enough: bright white “bones”, twisted sticks, and even multi-colored braids, but the truth is these chews are not only unhealthy for our dogs, they can be downright dangerous!
To help you find the perfect dog chew, we have some simple things to keep in mind that will go a long way towards caring for your dog:
What’s In Your Dog’s Chews? (Or Better Yet, What’s NOT In It?)
Natural chews are sourced from single ingredients and gently processed, meaning you know exactly what you’re giving your dog. When your dog chews on a cow ear dog chews, you can see that it’s a cow ear. Processed chews, like rawhides, on the other hand, have some ingredients to hide.
Commercial chews undergo a bleaching process that features numerous caustic chemicals; those are soaked into the treat and waiting for your dog to ingest. And the added colors and “dental themed” rawhides are even worse, featuring artificial coloring, artificial preservatives, and fillers like corn sugar.
Where Are Your Dog’s Chews From?
We’ve heard a lot recently about dangerous chicken jerky treats associated with antibiotic fed livestock, but did you know that the cattle used for rawhides are often given similar, unsafe antibiotics? Not to mention the added growth hormones and terrible, unnatural feed. Natural chews are sourced from grass fed cattle, raised without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics. The cattle are also free range, meaning they enjoy a healthy, open environment.
Are Your Dog’s Chews Healthy?
Dog health is very similar to human health: the less processed the better! Unfortunately, most commercial rawhides are hugely processed, going through multiple cycles of bleaching, coloring, and cooking.
All natural chews are single ingredient and go through minimal processing. Most of them are high in protein, low in fat, and free of those nasty fillers and preservatives present in commercial rawhides.
This means your dog is getting the nutritional benefits of a healthy snack, not the empty calories of a junk food chew. Plus, different chews can have added benefits!
- Sweet potato chews are packed with beneficial minerals like beta-carotene,
- Natural chews (especially bully stick twists) have textured features that clean your dog’s teeth,
- Fortified bully sticks are a great way to maintain healthy joints and glowing skin & coat.
Does Your Dog Like It?
As important as all the other decisions are when choosing a chew, there’s one that you have to leave up to your dog: the experience. Your dog might not be picky when it comes to chewing, but there is a difference between going through the motions, and truly enjoying something.
Do your dog’s ears perk up when you grab a natural chew? Does he sit with perfect posture, like a grade schooler ready to please?
And taste is just the start! Is the chew long lasting? Natural chews like bully sticks can last significantly longer than rawhides, giving your dog a satisfying experience from start to finish. How does your dog feel afterward? Are they content; or on the opposite side of that, feeling sick and even throwing up? Natural chews are single ingredient and completely digestible, which is gentle on your dog’s stomach.