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To Chew or Not to Chew...

Posted by Caleb Liber on

I'm constantly hearing stories about how raw hide is horrible for dogs ... but I also have multiple people telling me to never give my dogs harder bones because they splinter. Let's look at the pros and cons of a few different kinds of bones.

Rawhide is an animal skin/hide that has not been exposed to tanning. They're cleaned out, cut/ground, and then pressed into different shapes and sizes. They promote healthy gums and teeth in dogs. I can personally attest to this, as my dog chews them on occasion. His teeth and gums are great and he's a senior dog now. His vet. even told me I could keep giving them to him as well, but in moderation. They can prevent dogs from chewing valuable items, they help to relieve pain caused by teething in puppies, and your dog will most likely love them. On the other hand, watch out; the smaller pieces can become a choking hazard. They can possibly cause digestive blockage and gastrointestinal problems. Some rawhide, that are made outside the USA, are reported to have been made from toxic chemicals. Due to the process of actually making the rawhide, small amounts of deadly poisons sometimes linger within them, such as arsenic and formaldehyde. That's very scary to me!

Harder bones (non-rawhide bones) also have their own pros and cons. Cooked bones, such as table scraps, can cause broken teeth, windpipe blockage, and constipation, just to name a few. Those should be avoided. You'd think that store bought bones would be better, but in many cases, they can cause similar problems. The FDA warns that "commercially available bone treats, which are often processed and differ from the bones you might receive from a butcher, may present similar dangers and cause illnesses in dogs." Companies will, in many cases, smoke or bake the bones first, not to mention the added preservatives and flavorings they most likely use. It seems as if the best bet for your dog is actually going to your local butcher. Most raw bones that have not been cooked are okay, such as chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef bones. There are always risks, so it is best if they're supervised when they chew them. These act like a brush and floss for dog's teeth. They can break down tarter and reduce gum disease. They are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals and can help the digestive system by strengthening the stomach muscles, preventing bloat, and fostering healthy bowel movements. Lastly, the act of chewing helps to mentally stimulate dogs. It can even reduce anxiety, which is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Ultimately, it's up to you as to whether or not your dog should have bones. There are debates all over the internet. My recommendation, if you do give them bones, would be to choose the best, safest, most healthy option that you have available. Supervise them, give them a designated "bone chewing" time (such as after a meal), and limit their chewing to 10 to 15 minutes at a time. We all love our pups and want them to be happy, but we have to look out for their best interest as well, whether they realize it or not. Good luck and happy chewing!

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