Have you ever come back home to discover that your dog has chewed your phone charger, destroyed the cushions, or mawed your shoes?
Then you’re probably looking for dog chews to redirect your dog’s attention to a suitable chewing target. However, not all chews are good for your dog’s health and some can be quite dangerous.
Fortunately, we come to the rescue with this fantastic ultimate guide on natural dog chews to help you find the best natural treats.
Types of Dog Chews
Let’s start with the basics and discuss the types of dog chews you can find. In general, we can divide dog chews into the following groups:
- “low-quality” dog chews
- natural dog chews/ high-quality
- dental dog chews
- non-edible dog chews
Low-quality dog chews are usually made of some meat substitutes or animal derivatives. They’ve got more fillers than protein, but dogs love them due to additives that improve the taste. Think about them as delicious junk food.
Natural dog chews or high-quality ones are made of natural ingredients and have a high protein content. Usually, they’re more expensive because manufacturers use human-grade products or organic ones.
Dental chews are in a separate group because they’ve got a particular purpose – improving your dog’s oral health.
Unlike regular chews, dental ones are designed to reduce bacteria in your dog’s mouth, prevent the accumulation of tartar, and scrape accumulated plaque. These chews are also excellent for freshening your dog’s smelly breath.
Beside these tasty treats, we can’t forget to mention non-edible dog chews. These are toys that your dog is supposed to chew on but not eat. Such toys are usually made of rubber or other durable material to withstand hard chewing.
Still, they pose a risk because such toys aren’t digestible and might lead to intestinal blockage if your dog swallows a part.
What Are the Benefits of Natural Dog Chews?
If you’re on a budget, you might be wondering if natural dog chews are worth it and what’s so special about them.
Many low-quality dog chews contain artificial ingredients, coloring agents, preservatives, and other components that could be harmful to your dog. Stomach problems, food intolerance, and allergies are among the few issues that low-quality treats can cause.
Moreover, such treats usually have a low-meat content and few to none nutritional benefits for your dog. Since such low-quality chews are choked full of fillers and carbohydrates, they won’t sate your dog’s hunger.
That’s why owners prefer natural dog chews. Usually, these chews are made with minimum ingredients, have a high meat content, and provide maximum nutrition. They don’t contain artificial components and use natural preservatives instead of chemical ones.
Moreover, most natural dog chews are highly digestible and less likely to cause stomach discomfort. They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals to support your dog’s overall health and promote brain health, smooth coat, and healthy bones.
Natural chews, dental or not, can also help improve your dog’s oral health. The rough surfaces of most natural chews are also excellent for scraping plaque from the teeth.
Chewing also stimulates saliva production, which cleanses the mouth from bacteria and leftover food.
Which Natural Dog Chews Are Safe?
A dog with a bone. What could be more natural than that? However, most people don’t realize that cooked bones can be dangerous for dogs and can damage the intestines or lodge in the throat.
Moreover, some natural dog chews are so hard that they can damage your dog’s teeth, while others are hard to digest and might cause stomach problems.
As such, not all-natural dog chews would be safe for your dog. Let’s take a look at the most popular dog chews and see which are safe and which are not.
1. Bully Sticks For Dogs – Safe
Bully sticks are one of the best natural dog treats, even though they’re made of bull’s pizzle. Dogs love the texture, taste, and smell. The same can’t be said for the owners, though.
In general, the best bully sticks for dogs are long-lasting, durable, and unlikely to splinter into small pieces. They’re also available in various sizes for different breeds, and braided ones are suitable for aggressive chewers due to their toughness.
2. Bones For Dogs – Can Be Dangerous
As I already mentioned, cooked bones are something you should never give to your dog. However, raw ones can be an excellent treat when you supervise your dog. Stick to lamb, turkey, or beef bones because they’re digestible and unlike to damage teeth.
Don’t give your dog pork or rib bones because they’re likely to break into small, sharp
3. Rawhide – Can be Dangerous
Rawhides are controversial natural dog treats, and you’re likely to hear as many pros as cons about them. The problem is the chemicals and preservatives used to make rawhide, which can be toxic to a dog.
Rawhides are also a hard chew and can break your dog’s teeth. They also might splinter into small pieces that can pierce your dog ingests. But natural rawhides are an excellent treat for aggressive chewers.
4. Pig and Cow Ears For Dogs – Safe
Animal ears aren’t your idea for a delicious treat, but most dogs find cow and pig ears irresistible. Besides tasty, ears are soft enough to be easily digestible, rich in vitamins/minerals, and durable.
Moreover, ears are rich in fat and can upset your dog’s stomach if you don’t feed them in moderation. But they’re still an excellent natural dog chew.
5. Antler, Horns, and Hooves – Can be Dangerous
While antlers, hooves, and horns are durable, long-lasting, and rich in minerals, they aren’t safe for your dog. That’s because antlers, hooves, and horns are hard to chew on and might lead to a broken tooth.
Moreover, these natural treats have got sharp pieces that can pierce your dog’s stomach, damage the windpipe, or get lodged in the mouth.
6. Beef/Chicken Jerky – Safe
What could be a better natural dog treat for your furry friend than dried meat? While human jerky isn’t suitable for dogs due to salt and spices, you can find beef jerky for dogs or chicken jerky treats.
7. Fruits & Vegetables
Not all fruits and vegetables are safe for dogs, but some raw vegetables and fruits can be a suitable natural dog chew for your pet. Bananas, carrots, apple slices, and blueberries make excellent chews when frozen.
Frozen vegetables and fruits also come in handy when your puppy is teething and you’re looking for the best chews for puppies. The cold numbs the pain and alleviates your puppy’s discomfort.
How to Choose the Best Natural Chews For Dogs?
You’re bound to find piles of natural dog chews in the pet store. But which one is the best one for your pet? When it comes to natural dog chews, no one will fit all dogs. So, let me give you some pointers.
Look at the Label
Before you purchase any dog chews, you should check the ingredient list. Ideally, the first ingredient that you see should be named meat. It could be bull’s puzzle, beef, duck, lamb, etc. Stay away from chews listing generic meat, such as poultry or fish.
Moreover, stay away for any “natural” dog chews that use artificial ingredients or those made in China. They usually have a lot of chemicals to preserve the chews and extend their shelf life.
If your dog has allergies or a sensitive stomach, you should look for natural chews for sensitive breeds or grain-free ones.
Consider Your Dog’s Jaw Strength
When it comes to chewing, not all dogs are equal. Some are aggressive chewers and can break through the hardest material in a couple of hours. Other dogs might take months to finish a dog chew.
To avoid accidents, you have to consider your dog’s jaw strength when you’re choosing dog chews.
Strong chewers need long-lasting and durable chews that won’t break apart in a couple of hours, such as raw bones for dogs, bully sticks for dogs, or beef tracheas. Moderate chewers and light ones will do fine with pig ears, cow ears, or lamb bones.
Consider Your Dog’s Size And Age
How big your dog is matters when you’re looking for natural dog chews. Otherwise, your dog might choke on a piece or swallow it whole.
The rule of thumb is that any dog chew should be wider than your dog’s mouth. Otherwise, your pooch will swallow the treat and might choke. But it shouldn’t be too big, or your dog will have trouble fitting the chew in the mouth.
Fortunately, most natural dog chews come in varieties suitable for small dog breeds, medium dogs, and large dogs. Still, you should observe your dog and make sure that they can’t swallow the chew whole.
Age also matters because puppies and older dogs don’t have the same nutritional needs or chewing abilities.
When it comes to chews for puppies, choose products labeled “for puppies” or “all ages.” For older dogs, you should look for soft chews that won’t be hard on your dog’s failing teeth.
When it comes to any dog chews, you have to keep several things in mind. Always supervise your dog when they’re gnawing on chews and remove the treats as soon as it breaks or gets damaged.
Moreover, introduce chews slowly into your dog’s diet and make sure that you’re not overfeeding your dog on natural treats and chews. Remember that treats shouldn’t be more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie count.