Your dog is compelled to chew, and chew toys are the best way to prevent destructive chewing. However, you need to choose safe chew toys, so your pet doesn’t choke, swallow an inappropriate object, or injure their mouth. Our team at Wales Animal Clinic would like to answer some frequently asked questions concerning pet-safe chew toys, to ensure you pick the right chew for your dog.

Why does my dog chew?

Chewing is important for dogs, who chew for three main reasons.

  • Investigation — Dogs use their mouth to investigate their environment, and chewing on items is a normal way for them to acquaint themselves with a new setting.
  • Personal care — Chewing helps puppies relieve the pain from incoming teeth, while older dogs chew to keep their jaws strong and their teeth healthy.
  • Distraction — Dogs chew to combat boredom, and relieve anxiety and frustration.

How do I determine the right chew toy for my pet?

You must consider your pet’s age, size, and temperament when choosing an appropriate pet toy. Specifically designed teething toys are available for puppies, and most chew toys come in several sizes, so you can pick one that is right for your pet. You also need to consider their chewing style.

  • Soft chewer — These dogs are gentle on their toys, which they rarely destroy. They may prefer soft, fabric toys they can carry in their mouth.
  • Moderate chewer — These dogs will destroy a soft, fabric toy, but not sturdier items, such as rubber toys.
  • Strong chewer — These dogs are determined, destructive chewers. Durable, interactive toys are best for them.

What chew toys are best for my teething puppy?

Puppies chew to help relieve the pain from erupting teeth, discover their environment, and play. You should choose a toy that is not too small for them to swallow, but not too large that the toy will lodge in their mouth. Your puppy’s mouth is fragile, and the appropriate chew toy is necessary to avoid an injury. 

  • Ridges — Rubber toys with durable ridges or nubs are helpful to soothe your puppy’s painful gums.
  • Freezable toys — Toys that can be frozen can numb their sore gums, to help alleviate pain.
  • Rubber toys — Soft rubber toys with no squeakers are safe for puppies.
  • Fruits and vegetables — Frozen fruits and vegetables, which are healthy snack options, and can help alleviate pain, are great choices for your puppy. 

What pet chew toys are best for my soft chewer?

Since these dogs are not usually destructive, durable stuffed toys and firm rubber toys are great options for soft chewers. Ensure the plush toys do not have any parts, such as eyes, buttons, or ribbons, that could come off easily, and discard the toy if the fabric is torn, and you can see the stuffing, which can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction, if ingested.

What pet chew toys are best for my moderate chewer?

Avoid giving these dogs plush toys, since they will likely destroy them, and could potentially ingest a torn part, or the stuffing. Good options include:

  • Tennis balls — These fetch toys are good for moderate chewers, but don’t allow them to over-chew the ball, since the ball fuzz can irritate their mouth and wear down tooth enamel. You also need to remove a ball that breaks apart, because the pieces can be ingested, causing a gastrointestinal obstruction that would require surgery to remove.
  • Rope toys — These toys are great for tug-of-war, and moderate chewers enjoy them, but you must supervise them while they are playing. Discard the toy if any strings become loose or unraveled. 
  • Firm rubber toys — Durable rubber toys are also good for moderate chewers. Ensure you choose the right size toy for your pet’s mouth.

What pet chew toys are best for my strong chewer?

Since these dogs destroy most toy types, firm, durable rubber toys are the best for strong chewers. Hollow ones that hold treats are great to keep your pet entertained. Ensure you choose the right size toy for your pet’s mouth.

What pet chew toys are unsafe?

Many chew toys are unsafe for all pets and should be avoided, including:

  • Pigs’ ears — These treats are high in fat and calories, and can cause gastrointestinal upset, or trigger pancreatitis, a painful, potentially life-threatening condition.
  • Antlers, bones, hooves — While commonly given to dogs, these objects are too hard for your pet’s teeth, and can easily result in fractured teeth, injury to your pet’s mouth or esophagus, or gastrointestinal obstruction if they splinter and your pet swallows the shards. 
  • Rawhides — Rawhides can damage your dog’s teeth and cause gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting or diarrhea. Pieces that break off can be a choking hazard.
  • Strings — Strings and ribbons can become lodged at the base of your pet’s tongue, or cause a gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Sticks — Dogs love to pick up sticks, but they are brittle and can easily splinter, injuring your pet’s mouth or esophagus.
  • Squeaky toys — These toys make some pets frantic to find the squeaking’s source, and they will tear the toy apart, potentially ingesting small pieces.

You now know how to choose the right chew toy for your pet to ensure they stay happy and healthy. However, if your pet has an incident involving a chew toy, contact our team at Wales Animal Clinic right away, so we can provide the care they need.