Choosing a Chew

Written by: Only Natural Pet Team

Almost all dogs love to chew, and many cats do, too.  There are many benefits to providing the right chew for your companion. 

Dental Health

Plaque removal
Chewing something that takes some time and concentration, like a bully stick or dental chew bone, helps scrape plaque off the teeth and control tartar.  (Brushing is still required, however, since harder chews do not scrape all the way to the base of the teeth at the gumline).

Stimulates gums
The chewing motion stimulates the gums which helps them stay healthier (along with brushing).

Maintain healthy jaw structure
Jaw bones, like the rest of the skeleton, are regenerated on a continual basis.  The regeneration of bone is stimulated by exercise; so if the jaw is not getting enough exercise it will begin to weaken over time.  Jaw health and strength is vital to the overall health of your companion’s mouth.

Mental Health

Relieve teething pain and irritation for puppies and kittens.
Puppies and kittens cut their deciduous or “baby” teeth between 2 and 6 weeks of age, and their permanent teeth between 4 and 6 months of age.  They are more susceptible to gingivitis at these times and chewing can help prevent this.  Chewing on something hard helps releive the pressure of teeth pushing through the gums.  Chewing also stimulates the growth and improves the health of growing teeth.

Relieve boredom
Many of us must leave our beloved companions home alone for hours at a time when we go to work each day.  Leaving them with a safe chew toy, such as a stuffed kong for dogs or a catnip toy for cats, can occupy them for awhile and even help tire them out.  When they are either chewing on the treat you provided or napping, they are less likely to chew on your shoes or scratch the furniture.

Relieve stress
Anxious dogs benefit greatly from chewing.  A nervous dog will gnaw tenaciously on a good chew and feel much better for it.  They need an outlet for all that nervous energy, and chewing is so much healthier than barking, yipping or nipping.  If you have an anxious companion, keep a stash of the right chews handy for those times when visitors come to call or stressful situations arise.  Your dog may even begin to like those events she used to fear once she realizes she gets a treat each time.

It’s fun!
Your companion will have a great time with the right chew!  Experiment with different types of chews for variety and enjoyment.  You’ll have fun watching them have fun.

Which chew to choose?

Selecting the proper chew for your companion is important for both enjoyment and safety.  Each individual will have certain preferences, so you may have to experiment until you find the perfect match for your dog or cat.  Here are attributes to consider:

In general, small dogs will like smaller chews and big dogs larger ones – but there are certainly exceptions.  Some larger dogs prefer smaller chews and will ignore a large chew altogether.  Two dogs of the same size may need rather different size chews due to their chewing habits.  An aggressive chewer or “gobbler” will need a larger chew.  A dog who chews more cautiously will likely enjoy a smaller chew… unless you don’t mind him burying the leftovers beneath your sofa cushions or in your flower bed.  Big dogs might like the Bones Galore extra thick or braided bully stick varieties.  Little dogs might like shorter Beef Stix or Small Dental Chew Bones.

The harder the chew the longer it takes to gnaw it down.  Aggressive chewers will enjoy a harder chew like a bully stick, pressed rawhide, or grizzle sticks.  Dogs with a softer bite might enjoy the thinner “curly” tendons,  jerky strips or sweet potato chews.

A favorite for small dogs and cats are the Fish Stix.

Flavor or Aroma 
Most dogs like the natural flavor of dried meat and tendons, but some will enjoy flavored chews such as the Zukes Z-Ridge Bones.  Different flavor jerky strips are an excellent way to add variety to your pet’s chewing pleasures.

Cats are definitely taste-conscious.  Fish and chicken flavors are the favorites.  Catnip toys offer some fun and enticing chew time for kitties.  For more information about cats and chews see  Chews for Cats in our Holistic Healthcare Library.

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