Unlike humans who brush their teeth regularly, pets use dog bones to scrape the tartar and debris off their teeth. The bones help dogs stay in good physical and mental condition. Plus, bones are fun to chew!
Less than Desirable Dog Chews
There are some dog treats on the market that have been known to actually harm a dog's health rather than help.
Rawhide is a good example of a potentially dangerous natural dog treat. Rawhide is simply the skin of a cow. Natural rawhide tastes similar to beef. That is why it is so pleasing to dogs. However, it can also be hazardous for dogs. Some of the problems with giving your dog a rawhide dog bone include:
- There is a choking hazard associated with rawhide. If pieces of rawhide are swallowed whole or even in big chunks, they can get stuck in your dog's throat.
- Pieces of hard rawhide can actually scrape a dog's throat and esophagus on the way down to his stomach.
- Rawhide can potentially create a physical obstruction inside the intestinal track. Picture this: When a dog chews rawhide, it becomes wet and gummy. Now, imagine swallowing wads and wads of chewing gum. See the similarity? Not good.
- Rawhide is not regulated in many countries. In some these countries, arsenic-based products are used as a preservative in rawhides. That equates to giving your dog poison.
Cow hooves are exactly what they sound like - hooves from cows. Dogs consider them tasty treats, but similar to rawhide, they can prove problematic.
- Cow hooves are so hard they can actually break a dog's teeth.
- Sharp, uneven pieces from the cow hoof can be swallowed and tear the wall of the bowel. If this occurs, infection is almost definite, and so is death. Why take that chance?
Pig ears are dried ears from a pig.
- Besides looking exactly like what they are, pig ears can cause blockages.
- Pig ears have the potential to harm to people as well. Early in 2000, the FDA placed an advisory stating pork-related dog bones and chews may contain salmonella. So, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly if you are handling pig ears.
Safer Dog Bones
There are just as many healthy dog bones available as there are unhealthy. Many manufacturers have taken into consideration your dog's health and have created excellent chewing items that are not only satisfying to your dog but good for them.
Nylabones are dog bones made from pure nylon; this makes them exceptionally strong. Unlike rawhide, they will not splinter or break into chunks. The shred off in tiny particles that pass through the digestive system and are made with the most aggressive chewers in mind. When the Nylabone is chewed into a stump, throw it away and buy a new one to prevent a choking hazard.
Cornstarch bones are made from cornstarch and are perfectly safe for your dog to eat, provided that he or she does not have food allergies. The Booda Company actually makes cornstarch toys that are completely free of preservatives and contain no animal by-products.
Better Than Ears
Better than Ears are imitation pig ears that are low-fat and highly digestible. They are made from healthy products such as soy flour and wheat bran. Dogs love them.
Tips on Dog Bones
- Never give your dog leftover chicken bones. They can become lodged in the esophagus and hinder breathing functions.
- If you feel your dog must have rawhide, consider purchasing compressed rawhide. Compressed rawhide is better than regular rawhide because it is made from layers of beefhide and formed under extreme pressure. This creates a very dense dog bone. Compressed rawhide lasts three to five times longer than regular rawhide.
- Always look at the ingredients when you purchase dog bones to be sure they are chemical-free. Also, if they appear greasy, that is usually an indicator that they are not the healthiest thing to put in your dog's mouth.
- As a rule of thumb, always observe your dog's behavior with a new treat. If you think it may be dangerous for your dog to chew, go with your gut instinct and take it away. Better to be safe than sorry.
Although no bone is one-hundred percent safe, some bones are better choices than others. Try to always be present when your dog is chewing his bone so you can offer help if needed.