Size Matters: An important warning about choosing the correct size toys for your dogs, including when you have multiple dogs of different sizes. This photo (inset) is an X-ray of a dog’s abdomen. The three snowman-shaped objects you see in the middle of the image are Kongs within the dog’s stomach! They wound up there, not because the dog’s owner intentionally gave their dog the wrong sized Kongs, but rather because their kiddo didn't supervise closely enough while this dog’s puppies were playing with their food-stuffed Kongs! Mom perhaps decided that her pups were having too much fun and wanted in on the action. Or, maybe it was as it so often is, the kids just left their mess laying around for mom to clean up … and clean up this mom did! She had to be taken to surgery to have these three Kong toys removed from her stomach. She’s doing well and lesson learned for everyone.
Inappropriate chewing is a fairly common problem in young dogs and stems from the fact that puppies use their mouths as a means of exploring the world around them. Chewing is a normal behavior for puppies but becomes undesirable behavior when it is directed towards inappropriate objects such as your shoes, furniture, or even your hands and feet. If inappropriate chewing is not corrected then it can lead to wide scale destruction of personal property, medical problems and erosion of the human-animal bond.
Dogs with environmental allergies may need to have daily allergy shots. Dogs with flea allergies should be on monthly flea preventative medication. Corns may need to be surgically removed from the pads. Foreign objects will be removed from the pad and bandaged. Secondary yeast infections are treated with topical antifungal medications. Bacterial infections are treated with topical and oral antibiotics.
When you can’t supervise your dog, you must find a way to prevent him from chewing on inappropriate things in your absence. For example, if you work during the day, you can leave your dog at home in a confinement area for up to six hours. Use a crate or put your dog in a small room with the door or a baby gate closed. Be sure to remove all things that your dog shouldn’t chew from his confinement area, and give him a variety of appropriate toys and chew things to enjoy instead. Keep in mind that if you confine your dog, you’ll need to give him plenty of exercise and quality time with you when he’s not confined.
Give him a chew toy instead. If your dog attempts to chew on an inappropriate item while in your presence, simply interrupt the behavior and re-direct him to an appropriate chew toy. It can be helpful to have a stuffed Kong toy in a Ziplock bag in your freezer – so you can quickly produce it when needed. Many pups have certain times of day when they are more likely to chew, so you can head this behavior off at the pass if you choose this time of day to give the dog an approved chewie.
If you find your dog is bloodying his paws or otherwise hurting himself trying to escape the crate, another course of action needs to be taken. For cases of severe separation anxiety, an applied animal behavior or other behavior consultant should be employed. This serious problem will need an individualized behavior modification program and possibly drug therapy to be resolved.
Available everywhere and relatively inexpensive, rawhides can be a good chew option for some dogs. Plenty of dogs chew rawhides without incident. However, some dogs end up with bits of rawhide lodged in their “windpipe” (trachea), causing choking; or big pieces in their stomach, causing a digestive obstruction. If your dog actually chews the rawhide, rather than biting off and gulping large chunks, they’ll likely be OK — they may even get some teeth-cleaning benefits. This is especially true if you pick up a VOHC-approved “dental rawhide.”
3. Encourage appropriate chewing. Provide appropriate chew toys for your dog to enjoy. Each dog will have their own personal preference as to what they prefer to chew and play with. Be careful with rawhide and beef bones as determined chewers can whittle them down to smaller pieces that can be swallowed. They can end up becoming lodged in the esophagus or small intestine so supervision is recommended when giving these treats and be sure to take away any small pieces that might be swallowed. Avoid chicken bones since they splinter easily creating sharp fragments that can easily puncture your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. I prefer nylabones, greenies and dental chewsticks since they encourage appropriate chewing while combating dental disease. Dog toys such as balls and kongs may appeal to your dog, just be sure to select a size that is appropriate for your dog. They should be able to pick it up and carry it but it should be of sufficient bulk that it cannot be swallowed. If you buy your dog a kong type toy check, make sure the hole in the toy is not so big that the dog can get his lower jaw stuck in it.I have seen several emergency cases where a dog comes in with a toy stuck in his mouth. Do not give toys that resemble inappropriate items; for example do not give your dog an old shoe to chew on because he will not know the difference between the old chew shoe and a brand new pair.
All dogs should be familiar with the “drop it” command, it can literally save a dog’s life by telling him to drop something before he/she ingests it. I have used it several times and have spared my dogs from eating various potentially dangerous objects. Many obedience training instructors teach this command in their classes. You can try to teach it yourself by tossing a toy to your dog. Your dog picks it up and you then say “drop it” while showing your dog a treat. The dog will immediately drop the toy and you will give the treat. Repeat several times. At some point do not give the treat any longer but rather pat him on the head praising him. Then try this command next time your dog is about to chew your favorite furniture. He should promptly stop chewing and come towards your direction. Hand him his favorite toy and praise him lavishly for taking it.
Your dog is going to chew… it’s just a part of being a dog. And it’s quite an important part, too! Whether they’re a puppy or an adult dog, all dogs need to chew. Puppies chew when they’re teething or just to explore the new world. Then they continue through adulthood to keep their masticatory (chewing) muscles strong, their teeth clean, and their brain engaged.
Beef tracheas: Sometimes called "windies" or "moo tubes," beef tracheas are primarily made up of cartilage and contain glucosamine and chondroitin, which benefit the joints. Beef tracheas last almost as long as bully sticks, but it really depends on the dog. They can also be more costly than bully sticks though they do not tend to stink quite as badly.