Thursday, October 27, 2011

Something to Chew On

It’s no secret that dogs like to chew.  Some dogs chew more aggressively or more often than others, but all dogs enjoy chewing to some degree.  Chewing is a natural dog behavior.  Chewing also has benefits; it can help to clean a dog’s teeth and maintain healthy gums.  Puppies will also chew when teething or as a way of investigating new things (hopefully not your new pair of shoes).  Sometimes a dog’s chewing can result in destruction of your items (clothing, furniture, etc.).  In some cases destructive chewing can be the result of boredom / lack of mental stimulation, lack of exercise, or separation anxiety.
In addition to providing daily exercise and mental stimulation, it’s also important to provide your dog with a positive outlet for satisfying his / her desire to chew.  There is no shortage of chew on the market today.  I am a firm believer in giving your dog a variety of chew toys and chew treats.  While your dog might have a favorite chew toy, it’s a good idea to give them variety and / or options of chew toys to keep them engaged.  Although there are many good chew toys available, I’m just going to highlight two for now.
A very popular chew toy is a Nylabone.  Nylabone states that their “products promote good canine dental hygiene, enhance overall mental fitness,” and “encourage positive behavior.”  There are many types of Nylabones, varying in size, shape, flavor and durability.  I have two Siberian Huskies and they currently have about 5 different Nylabones in their toy box (yes, they have a toy box).  From time to time Nylabone comes out new shapes and flavors, so don’t be afraid to experiment with some different types of Nylabones.  For my dogs, I only use Nylabone’s Dura Chew products (based on their chewing needs).  Nylabones should be replaced as needed.
Something else that dogs love to chew on are Antlerz.  Being an animal lover, I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about giving my dogs deer antlers as a chew toy.  Most people don’t like the idea of Bambi turning into a chew toy; however, wild deer naturally shed their antlers once a year and then re-grow another set.  QT Dog, manufacturer of Antlerz, states that Antlerz are “not a by-product generated by a meat processing facility or slaughter house.  Antlerz are a 100% natural dog chew that contain no plastics, no petrochemicals, no empty starches or artificial flavors.  Atlerz hold up substantially longer than most traditional chews made from plastic, bone, or compacted starch.”  Antlerz have held up very well in my house with my two dogs.  They absolutely love them! 
Remember, your dog is going to chew.  It is up to you to provide proper and healthy outlets for him / her to satisfy the desire to chew.  As with any other toy or item you give your dog, it’s important to monitor your pet and provide supervision, especially with new toys (safety first!).  - David Neuwirth

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