Chewing can be an enjoyable, stress relieving activity for dogs. Unfortunately, improper toy selection can make chewing dangerous, so to keep all dogs safe and healthy, Liberty Veterinary Hospital tested some popular toys to help you “chew-s” wisely.
How we evaluated pet toys for safety
WIth aisles of pet toy options, knowing what’s best for your dog is difficult. Our tested toys had to meet the following criteria to receive a passing grade:
- The fingernail test — The chew must be pliable. When pressed with a fingernail, slight pressure should leave an indentation on the chew.
- The kneecap test — If striking your knee with the chew hurts, the toy is too hard.
- The stress test — When bent, the chew should give or flex slightly.
- The chew must come in multiple sizes — Ensure the size is appropriate for your dog, to prevent choking, and provide an effective chewing experience.
A word of caution about all pet toys
No chew toy is 100 percent safe. Do not leave your dog unsupervised with toys until you know how they will behave. Power chewers and dogs known to dismantle and swallow large pieces should never be left alone with a chew toy. Incorrect use or improper consumption of any chew toy can result in:
- Bleeding gums
- Oral trauma
- Upper or lower gastrointestinal blockage
Have your pet’s mouth examined at Liberty Veterinary Hospital before introducing any new chew toys, as chewing will be painful if your pet has dental disease or fractured teeth.
Our list of tested pet toys and their passing or failing grade
This list is not exhaustive, but should provide you with a general guide for sourcing a safe pet chew. For toys not on the list, use the criteria above, and your dog’s chewing habits, to pass or fail the toy, or contact us.
- FAIL — Rawhide chews for pets
- Rawhide is commonly bleached, bathed in a lime dip, and treated with a smorgasbord of mystery chemicals. Poor production standards outside of North American and European countries increase the chances of toxic chemical applications, salmonella, and E. coli. Although rawhide is popular because it’s long lasting, dogs routinely swallow large portions, especially the “knots” on rawhide bones, which can become lodged in their intestinal tract.
- PASS — C.E.T VeggieDent and C.E.T Hextra Premium Oral Hygiene Chews for pets
- These two dental treats are free from harmful preservatives, and provide a satisfying and beneficial chew session. Both chews are lightweight and pliable, with an abrasive proven to fight plaque and tartar, thereby receiving the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance. VeggieDent chews are plant-based and safe for allergic dogs. The rawhide in CET Hextra chews is responsibly sourced from North American cattle.
- FAIL—Raw or cooked bones for pets
- Despite the debate that raw bones are safe for dogs, Liberty Veterinary Hospital found that all animal bones fail to meet our testing criteria. Additionally, we have witnessed too many dogs suffer from painful dental slab fractures, intestinal blockages, constipation, and internal lacerations, to endorse any animal bones.
With so many safe alternatives, feeding your pet real bones and risking a potential surgical emergency is not necessary.
- PASS—Filled Kong or West Paw Toppl for pets
- Rubber pet toys that are stuffed with pet-safe ingredients can give your dog a safe, long-lasting, and tasty chew toy. Kongs come in a variety of sizes and strengths to suit your dog, while West Paw’s Toppl have a wider mouth, which makes the treats more accessible for puppies and adult dogs who are new to stuffed toys. Toppl come in two sizes and are made in the United States.
Always purchase the correct size for your dog, to prevent choking. When in doubt, size up.
- FAIL—Animal parts (e.g., antlers, hooves, and ears) for pets
- Every animal body part is accounted for at most pet stores. Unfortunately, antlers and hooves can break teeth and cause oral lacerations. Hooves can split and, if swallowed, obstruct or puncture the intestinal tract. Pig ears are high in fat and commonly coated with chemical flavoring or preservatives, a common source of pancreatitis and gastroenteritis.
- PASS—Greenies for pets
- Greenies dental chews are a flexible, fully digestible treat made in the United States. Like the C.E.T. chews, Greenies have been awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance for effective plaque and tartar control. Greenies are made with all natural ingredients, and available in a range of sizes and flavors, and a weight management formula.
- FAIL—Yak milk chews for pets
- Yak milk chews are popular because they are odorless, long lasting, and stain-free natural chews. However, these chews are long lasting, only because they are rock hard. We do not recommend hitting your knee with these bricks, and we cannot recommend them for your dog.
- PASS—Frozen veggies and fruit for pets
- Frozen carrots, apple slices, bananas, or strawberries can make you feel good about your dog’s chewing experience. Frozen produce is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and pets love the taste.
For the best chewing experiences, remember to always separate and supervise pets, to prevent resource guarding or choking. If you’re unsure about a particular chew’s safety, or need to schedule a dental assessment for your dog, contact Liberty Veterinary Hospital.