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Is chewing bones mentally stimulating for dogs?

The Many Benefits of Chew Toys For Dogs

Chewing is often thought of as negative dog behavior — especially when it relates to your pooch chewing on your shoes or furniture. However, there are many benefits to chewing for dogs that you may not be aware of, which is where dog toys for chewing come in handy.

The benefits of dog toys for chewing that we’ll go over in detail include:

  • improved dental health
  • stress and anxiety relief
  • gum relief for teething puppies
  • reduced destructive chewing
  • provides a positive outlet for mental stimulation

How can you keep your possessions safe but also allow your dog to reap all the benefits of chewing? The key is re-directing that behavior to chew toys for dogs.

Below is some insight as to why your dog chews and some of our favorite dog chew toys for your pup to try out.

Benefits of Chewing

english bulldog chewing on a dog toy for chewing

We believe that every home should have chew toys for their dogs. Here’s why:

Chew toys may be safer for your dog than dog bones.

Despite common associations made with dogs and bones, bones can be dangerous for dogs. They are a choking hazard and can harm your dog’s mouth as well as cause broken teeth, digestion issues, and blockages. Cooked bones and rawhide are especially unsafe. We recommend heavy-duty, durable rubber, non-consumable, chew toys to safely satisfy your pup’s instinct to chew.

Chew toys promote dental health.

Chewing can help clean your dog’s teeth and gums — like Arm & Hammer, but for your dog’s mouth. The act of chewing helps smooth the teeth and scrapes away at tartar. It also promotes antibacterial saliva that cleanses your dog’s mouth. You may also notice your dog’s breath improving from dental chews! Just remember that chews can never replace a bristle brush. Always brush your dog’s teeth and supplement their dental health with chews.

Chew toys can relieve dogs of stress and anxiety.

Just like yoga or meditation may be calming for humans, chewing can be a zen activity for dogs. When anxious, dogs tend to chew in an effort to ease those feelings. If your pup gets stressed at the sound of fireworks and storms or suffers from separation anxiety, try giving them a chew toy during those times to help keep them calm and happy.

Dog chew toys help with teething puppies.

A puppy chew toy is a must for your new furbaby! Chewing can help ease the pain that puppies are experiencing while they are teething. If your pup’s gums seem extra tender, dog owners can try putting a chew toy in the freezer before giving it to your pup for an added soothing effect. Chewing also promotes teeth growth so your puppy can develop healthy and strong adult doggie teeth.

Dog toys for chewing provide mental stimulation.

Just like dogs need physical exercise, they also need mental stimulation. Chewing is a really exciting activity for dogs and requires a lot of their focus. Chew toys and interactive dog toys are great ways to build your dog’s brainpower!

Durable dog toys help prevent destructive chewing.

As you now know, dogs LOVE and NEED to chew. However, you don’t want your leather shoes or fancy furniture to be the victim of your dog’s natural chewing instincts. Chew toys are a great way to prevent destructive chewing. If you can redirect them to toys meant to be chewed on, they can reap all of the above benefits without damaging any of your shoes!

Chew toys keep your pup occupied.

Chew toys are a great way for your dog to get some solo play in when they don’t have a tug-of-war partner. While they are busy gnawing on chew toys you can get some work done or eat dinner without being interrupted.

Things to consider when buying your dog a chew toy

It is important to make sure you are choosing an appropriate and safe chew toy for your dog whether they are a large dog or a small dog. Be aware of your dog’s chewing habits, strength, and what size and durability level of toy works best for them.

Keep an eye out for signs that the toy may be dangerous or need replacing. And when it comes to playtime with a chewy toy, you should also always remember the 10 Chew Commandments.

Our Favorite Chew Toys for Dogs

Below are some of the best chew toys for dogs from Outward Hound. We would recommend giving one of these classic dog toys a try to satisfy your pup’s inherent need to chew while boosting their dental and mental health.

Liver Branch

dog chewing liver branch toy

The Liver Branch chew toy is a great way to curb your dog’s destructive chewing habits. This toy is immediately attractive to dogs due to its dog-approved liver scent. Made of durable nylon, it will stand up to a strong level chewer. The Liver Branch is available in three sizes, small, medium, and large so that you can find the right size for your pup.

Liver Branch Dog Chew Toy

$8.99 $0.00

Petstages chew toys satisfy your dog’s natural instinct to chew with a wide variety of innovative and durable toys that enhance their dental health and keep dogs occupied with appropriate chewing solutions. The ergonomic design and shape make it easy for dogs to hold between their paws as they gnaw away on the chew toy. Great for dogs that love to chew, the Liver Branch occupies dogs as much as it…

Peanut Stuffer

The Peanut Stuffer is a durable nylon chew toy with a yummy (allergen-free) peanut butter scent. We love it because it has a channel in the middle of it that can be filled with peanut butter or dog treats!

This is a great toy to use to occupy your dog because once they get out all of the treats they can continue to chew on the toy. This toy will enhance your pup’s brainpower and prolong their chew time!

Peanut Stuffer Dog Toy, Brown, Medium

$10.99

The treat stuffing Peanut Stuffer is a durable nylon chew that occupies even some of the strongest chewers. This treat stuffer may look and feel like a peanut but is allergen-free. This chew toy is perfect to stuff with peanut butter or dog treats. It can even be played with after all treats are gone.ALLERGEN FREE PEANUT BUTTER FLAVOR: An added flavor that dogs love without the mess and irritants!UNIQUE…

Petstages Dogwood Calming 2-Pack

dog with chew toy

If your pup suffers from anxiety you should give the Dogwood Calming 2 Pack a try! This comes with two toys that are naturally calming for dogs that like to chew. One stick is made with real hemp while the other is made with the original real wood flavor that dogs love. Great for multipet households, Plus, it’s safer than toys that aren’t for chewing like rope toys or tennis balls.

Product image for Dogwood Wood Alternative Dog Chew Toy, Original & Fresh Breath 2-pack, Multi, Large

Dogwood Wood Alternative Dog Chew Toy, Original & Fresh Breath 2-pack, Multi, Large

$24.99 $23.99

A safe and long lasting alternative to chewing real wood sticks, Petstages Dogwood product line has all the taste and texture of a natural tree branch, but will last much longer and won’t splinter and cause potential harm to your beloved pup. Made in the U.S.A. to ensure quality and care, Dogwood combines real wood with lead-free and phthalate-free synthetic strength, making it a chew toy favorite…

Dogwood Breath 2-Pack

The Dogwood Breath 2 Pack is a great set of chew toys made in the USA that promote dental health. Chewing on the dogwood helps to remove tartar and massage dog’s gums. Both sticks are made with the texture and flavor of real wood that dogs love. BONUS: This pack includes one stick that is mint-scented to help freshen your pups’ breath.

Product image for Dogwood Wood Alternative Dog Chew Toy, Original & Fresh Breath 2-pack, Multi, Large

Dogwood Wood Alternative Dog Chew Toy, Original & Fresh Breath 2-pack, Multi, Large

$24.99 $23.99

A safe and long lasting alternative to chewing real wood sticks, Petstages Dogwood product line has all the taste and texture of a natural tree branch, but will last much longer and won’t splinter and cause potential harm to your beloved pup. Made in the U.S.A. to ensure quality and care, Dogwood combines real wood with lead-free and phthalate-free synthetic strength, making it a chew toy favorite…

Flip & Chew

Dog’s love the unique shape of the Dogwood Flip & Chew toy because it is easy to grip and encourages their focus on chewing. This toy satisfies as much as it occupies your pup! The variety of ridges and textures on this toy help to clean teeth and massage gums as your dog chews. Your pooch will love the rocking movement that this toy has.

Product image for Dogwood Flip and Chew Bone, Brown, Medium

Dogwood Flip and Chew Bone, Brown, Medium

$9.99 $7.99

A safe and long lasting alternative to chewing real wood sticks, Petstages Dogwood product line has all the taste and texture of a natural tree branch, but will last much longer and won’t splinter and cause potential harm to your beloved pup. Dogwood combines real wood with lead-free and phthalate-free synthetic strength, making it a chew toy favorite amongst dogs. With a variety of scents, sizes, and…

Dogwood Mesquite

The Mesquite Dogwood is one of the best chew toys for dogs!

The Dogwood Mesquite is a great version of that traditional chew time favorite Dogwood Stick. Some chews come in bacon flavor, chicken flavor, but your pup will go crazy for this savory BBQ scent. The flavor will really help to redirect any destructive chewing habits. Plus this toy doesn’t split or splinter like real sticks and bones do!

Product image for Dogwood Wood Alternative Dog Chew Toy, Mesquite

Dogwood Wood Alternative Dog Chew Toy, Mesquite

$21.99

A safe and long lasting alternative to chewing real wood sticks, Dogwood by Petstages has all the taste and texture of a natural tree branch, but will last much longer and won’t splinter and make a mess as your pup chews. With a variety of scents like the smell of real wood or a Mesquite BBQ, Dogwood combines real wood with synthetic strength, making it a tough and durable chew toy. This alternative chew…

Wishbone

The Benebone Wishbone chew toy is another fun shaped chew for dogs. It is easy to grip and carry. These chew toys are made of durable nylon combined with 100% real ingredients like bacon, chicken, and peanut butter. This is also available in three sizes so you can find the size and flavor combination that your dog loves the most!

For Power Chewers

The Nylabone Dura-Chew Power Chew toy, antlers, or rubber chew toys like the Kong classic or Kong Extreme dog toy, will keep your powerful chewer busy! These chew toys are awesome for all of the aggressive chewers from large breeds to small breeds.

Chews to Chew!

We hope you like some of our suggestions for the best dog toys for chewing. Dogs need to chew for overall dental health. You’ll want to provide them with the toughest toys out there!

For more dog toys for chewing, puppy toys, squeaky toys, plush toys, and more, check out our website, Amazon store, or your local pet supplies store.

Which Dog Bones Are Safe?

Dog eating bone on floor

You’ve probably heard that dogs love to chew on bones. You’ve probably also heard that bones are dangerous for dogs.

With all the contradictory information out there about feeding bones to dogs, it’s important to be able to sort out what the facts are, including both the health benefits and risks. Giving your dog a bone can be very dangerous, or, if you’re well-informed and follow some simple rules, it can be safe and even good for your pup.

That said, you should always have a discussion with your vet before giving your dog new foods, bones, or chews to make sure you’re being as safe as possible.

Here’s some information you’ll need to help you determine which bones will be good for your dog and which ones to avoid.

Avoid cooked bones

Dog with Thanksgiving turkey

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Cooked bones, including those that come from table scraps, are not safe for dogs to eat. They can easily break and splinter.

  • Broken teeth
  • Mouth or tongue injuries
  • Bones looped around the lower jaw
  • Windpipe, esophagus, or gastrointestinal blockage
  • Constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Peritonitis–a bacterial infection of the abdomen caused by punctures in the stomach or intestines

What about store-bought bone treats?

Retriever with bone chewing isolated

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Additionally, the FDA warns that commercially available bone treats, which are often processed and differ from the bones you might receive from a butcher, may present similar dangers and cause illnesses in dogs.

In 2015, the FDA received 35 reports of dogs suffering from a variety of conditions related to commercially available bone treat products including Ham Bones, Pork Femur Bones, Rib Bones, and Smokey Knuckle Bones.

Companies often dry these products through smoking or baking and add preservatives, seasoning, or smoke flavoring.

The dogs in the reports suffered from the following:

  • Gastrointestinal blockage
  • Choking
  • Cuts in the mouth or on the tonsils
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Death (in the case of eight of the dogs)

If you are considering store-bought chews or bones for your dog, it’s best to consult your vet to make sure you’re getting appropriate products for your individual pet.

What about rawhides?

USA, Illinois, Metamora, Dog bone on kitchen floor

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Rawhide chews sometimes cause similar conditions as store-bought bone treats. The manufacturing process of these bones can leave them with trace amounts of toxic chemicals, and they have the potential for contamination with Salmonella or E. coli.

These chews can cause digestion problems, as well as blockages.

Additionally, artificial dog chews can contain gelatin, artificial sweeteners, and other additives and preservatives that may be toxic or cancer-causing. Avoid chews with these ingredients.

Bones to give your dog

Border collie gnawing on raw meat bone

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Most raw bones that have not been cooked are edible for dogs. Raw chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef bones are soft enough to chew, eat, and digest.

That said, with all bones, there is a risk of choking if your dog swallows without thoroughly chewing, and bones that are too hard can cause damage to the teeth.

As long as you follow the safety guidelines below, these bones should be fine. Always talk to your vet first.

Chocolate Labrador with big Bone

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Recreational bones are not designed to be edible, but rather chewed by dogs. These can include large femur or hip bones from bison or beef and are filled with marrow.

These bones may have meat, cartilage, or soft tissue still attached. You can usually find these at your local butcher.

Bones with marrow are high in fat. Make sure to adjust your dog’s diet to compensate, and if your dog needs a low-fat diet, you may be better off not giving marrow-filled bones to your dog.

With raw bones and meat, there is some risk of bacterial contamination. You can reduce these risks with proper handling. Ask your vet for suggestions about the best way to safely handle and store raw bones.

Again, there are risks to giving your dog these kinds of bones, though if you follow the safety guidelines, your pup should be able to safely enjoy them.

Safety guidelines

If you’d like to give your dog a bone to eat or chew, follow these rules so they enjoy their bone safely.

  • Supervise chewing. Don’t leave your dog to chew a bone alone. They may bite off too much and choke or gnaw too aggressively and cause injury.
  • Throw out gnawed-down bones. If your dog chews a bone down to the brittle part, splintering becomes a problem. Additionally, a bone that has been chewed down too small becomes a choking hazard.
  • Do not give bones to a dog who has had restorative dental work. These dogs are at risk for tooth breakage and dental problems.
  • Do not give bones with marrow to dogs who get pancreatitis. Marrow is high in fat and can cause a flare-up or diarrhea.
  • Do not give a bone to a dog who’s likely to bite it in half and swallow large chunks. You know how your dog eats. If your dog swallows food quickly rather than chewing, a bone presents a risk.
  • Give the bone after a meal. A less hungry dog is less likely to chew and swallow a bone quickly.
  • Don’t feed your dog bones that can be swallowed whole. This depends on the size of your dog. A small chicken bone is not safe for a Great Dane, for instance.
  • Give your dog bones that are longer than the length of their muzzle. This will make it impossible for them to swallow.
  • Don’t feed your dog a bone cut lengthwise. A cut leg bone, for example, is more likely to splinter.
  • Don’t feed your dog pork or rib bones. These bones are more likely to splinter.
  • Only let your dog chew for ten to 15 minutes at a time. This reduces the likelihood of injury.
  • Refrigerate bones when not in use. Throw them out after three to four days. This reduces the likelihood of contamination.

The health benefits of bones

Border Terrier chewing on a raw bone, front view

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Chewing is a natural and important behavior for dogs. Recreational bones act like a brush and floss for dogs’ teeth. The sinewy bones break tartar down and reduce gum disease, cleaning the teeth.

Chewing also stimulates the production of saliva enzymes, which prevent plaque buildup. Dogs who chew on bones are also less likely to scratch or lick their paws.

Raw bones are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals. They have benefits to the digestive system, including strengthening the stomach muscles, preventing bloat, fostering healthy bowel movements, and preventing anal gland problems.

In addition to physical health, chewing has the benefit of mentally stimulating dogs. This can actually reduce anxiety, which is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Is it worth it to give your dog a bone?

Processed with Snapseed.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

As to whether the health benefits outweigh the risks of feeding your dog bones, many veterinarians disagree on this issue. Ultimately, the choice is yours as the parent of your dog.

Some advocate grinding bones into a powder to be sprinkled over food, which can provide the minerals from bones to your dog’s diet without the risks of choking or other complications. This does, however, also eliminate the benefits of chewing.

When going over the pros and cons, you should do your research and discuss these issues with your veterinarian before you decide to give your dog a bone.

Does your dog enjoy chewing on recreational bones? Do you ever feed your pup raw, uncooked bones? Let us know in the comments below. And, now you know which dog bones are safe, why not check out our guide to bad food for dogs, or our guide to feeding your puppy?

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