Chewing is a natural action for dogs. It helps keep their teeth clean and gums healthy. Chewing also seems to provide a satisfying activity for dogs that calms them and helps in relieving boredom. But chewing the wrong objects can be harmful and result in a fractured tooth, lacerated gum, constipation or blockage of the intestinal tract. All of which can result in a large vet bill.
The following items may seem innocent, but they should not be provided (or available) to your dog for chewing:
Many dogs come running to the sound of the refrigerator ice machine hoping to snag a fallen icy treat. But chewing on ice wears down tooth enamel (the protective cover for teeth). Ice is even more dangerous for small dogs, as chewing on a piece of ice can fracture a tooth.
2. Sticks and Wood
Many dog owners utilize sticks as a fetching toy when outside on walks and at the park. The danger though is that the dog begins to use sticks as toys and many dogs will begin chewing on the stick. Wood splinters easily when chewed on and shards can jam into the dog’s mouth causing an infection. Also if pieces of wood are swallowed, it can cause intestinal blockage.
Dogs often utilize rocks as a play object when they’re bored. Additionally, if a rock has food particles on it (for example rocks near your grill) dogs may try to swallow the rock thinking it is food.
Bones are often given to dogs by owners who think chewing on bones is natural for dogs. The issue is that dogs chew the bones down and they can be accidentally swallowed. If this happens, the bone will become lodged in the intestines. Bones can also splinter resulting in fragments wedged in the mouth, throat, or intestines requiring an emergency visit to remove. Bones also wear down the enamel of the teeth.
5. Water Bottles
Many dogs love chewing on water bottles. Several dangers can arise though and water bottles should be avoided. The cap of the water bottle can come off and the dog can swallow it leading to a blockage. Also, dogs can tear off pieces of the plastic pretty easily resulting in sharp, rough edges. The dog may try to swallow these sharp pieces and/or cut their gums chewing on the newly exposed rough edges.
6. Hard objects
There are many hard objects your dog could chew on, for instance hard plastic can be as hard as a bone. Chewing on hard objects can result in a fractured tooth.
So what can you give your dog to chew on?
There are a host of approved chewing products that have been tested for safety. These are available from your veterinarian or pet supply store. In general, follow these guidelines when choosing a toy:
– Provide chewing items that won’t cause blockage if swallowed
– Toys should be large enough that your dog can’t swallow them. And if they chew a toy down to small pieces they could swallow, throw the toy away
– Chewing items should not splinter
– The toys/chewing items should have some flexibility and not be rock hard
– As often as possible provide toys/chewing items that promote healthy gums and reduce tartar
Intestinal issues and blockages are one of the most common reasons for a pet hospital visit and they’re among the most expensive. Fortunately, most pet insurance companies have policies in case this happens. However to avoid the visit and stress altogether, choose safe and approved chewing options for your dog.
Have you ever given your dog something to chew on that seemed innocent, only to have issues (or a vet visit) because of it? Share your experience in the comments below.