Bones, Antlers, Toys, Your House... Why do dogs need to chew?

Dogs Chew Because They Need To!

Dogs chew because it is their instinct. Think of it…animals do not have fingers and thumbs like we do, so how do they explore their world and pick up things? They use their nose and mouth to learn about new objects and people. Puppies start their chewing habit when they are teething. From that point, the need to chew can grow into not just tasting an object that appeals to them, but also testing the object by chewing on it. The issue is how to stop the habit from becoming a nuisance, destructive and even dangerous.

Puppies & Their Chew Habits

According to Cesar Milan*, the Dog Whisperer, the instinct to chew is a natural one, but as a “pack leader,” you need to be the one to redirect the chewing in a positive way. When a puppy is teething, a soft toy or rope helps relieve the pain of new teeth breaking through. The toy can also absorb the lost baby teeth, so your puppy will not swallow them. Right away, you are establishing a motive for the puppy to chew on something that is productive for him. It relieves pain and stress.

Young Dogs

When the adult teeth are grown, your dog will begin the great experiment to find out what is and is not food. Here is where chair and table legs, shoes, woodwork or other gnawable items become the victim of the dog’s research. In my case, it was a laundry room…molding, door and even sheetrock! In other words, you need to nip the destructive chewing in the bud. Give the dog an alternative for chewing. During the first year, dogs tend to resort to chewing on something for comfort when they are frustrated or left alone for long periods. Introduce dog chews that are tasty, safe and long lasting.

Good chews:

  • Tough enough to last and become a favorite treat
  • The right size for your dog’s mouth; large enough to prevent swallowing and choking
  • Entertaining in shape or taste to keep your dog challenged

Bad Chews:

  • Cooked bones because they can tear and splinter
  • Rib, chicken or raw meat bones because they can cause digestive distress
  • Mass produced package bones because they may be chemically treated or dyed

Adult and Mature Dogs

Older dogs chew less, when they are properly trained, and their appetite redirected to healthy snacks or treats. However, they still need to chew to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Even though dogs do not collect tartar as quickly as humans do, they still need to keep their mouth plaque free. If you feed your dog soft or wet foods, you will probably notice more tartar and possible gum soreness because they can’t brush after every meal. When your doggie has something to gnaw on at least once per day, that treat can serve to pick up tooth and gum debris.The best chew for dogs comes from nature. Antlers!
Elk antler chews, moose and deer antlers offer all natural sources of bone that is sturdy and tasty. Feed and farm stores, along with dog specialty shops can steer you in the right direction for antler sources. The ideal antler chew is elk, because the marrow inside the bone is pure and next to impossible for your dog to get to, even though he will spend hours trying. When you purchase antler chews for your dog, be sure that the source is reputable. The antlers should be freshly harvested from northern forests, properly cleaned (NOT bleached or dyed) and cut to the proper size for your dog’s mouth. Antlers that are old, dried or too small can splinter, leave stain on your carpet and won’t last long.