Choosing the right chew for your dog


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/01/2022 (214 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When you have two dogs and you want to give them both something to chew, why can’t they just be nice and focus on the thing you’ve given them? Why does every dog think you’ve given the other dog something better?

Rey and Leia need different chews. Rey can and will eat anything but Leia has a sensitive stomach and is limited in what proteins she tolerates. Of course, these items are more expensive, so we don’t want to give the gluttonous Rey the expensive chews.

This means we have to watch like a hawk to ensure that Rey doesn’t sneak over and take Leia’s treat (Leia is such a gentle soul that she would never protest). We also have to watch that Leia doesn’t get hold of a treat Rey may have left behind (an infrequent event but… still).

Photo by Jeff McFarlane Rey, at left, is often jealous of the chew treats that smaller, more sensitive Leia gets to enjoy.

Finding the chew that both satisfies your pet and your pocketbook isn’t always the easiest thing but there are many options that can do both.  

Our most popular long-lasting chews are Himalayan cheese, antlers and knuckle bones (frozen or smoked). These tend to last but each comes with its own set of concerns.

Some dogs can bust through the cheese quickly while others gum them for weeks, so, depending on your pet, they can be hit or miss. Antlers can be long lasting but some dogs don’t like that they can’t get anything off them. Split antlers are easier to break down but ,again, some can break them down too quickly  Solid antlers can be made more attractive with a tiny bit of peanut butter or bacon grease, or by boiling for a few minutes in low-sodium beef or chicken broth (which can soften them and add flavour).  

Knuckle bones of an appropriate size are great for most dogs. Frozen, they can come whole or split and you can train your dog to consume them on a mat or towel so they don’t wander the house with a raw bone.  Smoked bones are less of an issue but in both cases watch to make sure your pet does not break off chunks they can swallow.

Regardless what chew you choose, you need to monitor your pet when they consume them. Just in case.

Faster chews, such as pig, beef or buffalo ears (rabbit, lamb or kangaroo for smaller dogs) can be easy ways to meet for your dog’s chewing needs. Leia likes a buffalo ear and it can take her two full sessions to consume one. Rey, however, busts through a cow ear in minutes, then hovers over Leia while she enjoys her ear.  

Rey is usually a good girl, but we have to make sure she doesn’t steal it. She will, however, come in and clean up any bits left behind once Leia is done.

There are so many real treat options available that we do not have to resort to the “dental treats and bones” loaded with starches, flavourings, colours and even chemicals.  Look for chews with one ingredient, they are natural and usually much better.  

Rawhides have long been a favourite but, again, they may be processed using chemicals and in places you may not trust. Much better are tendons, tracheas, esophagus, backstraps, tripe, pizzles and other single-ingredient items.  

When we want to give Leia and Rey something that they can work on longer, they get Benebones. These nylon bones are tough, and have interesting enough taste/shape to keep their attention. They prefer the wishbone shape, and I give Leia the puppy version because it is a bit softer for her. But I have to be careful that Rey doesn’t steal it, because she can power through it quickly, and breaking it down can make it a choking hazard.  

There are lots of similar items from companies such as Nylabone. Be sure to read the package, as they usually have a rating/recommendation system for appropriate breeds and sizes.

Finding an outlet for your pets’ chewing is both important for their teeth and important for their psyche. Once you find the right combo, you will have a happy pet when they see you coming with their treat. 

Jeff McFarlane

Jeff McFarlane
Pets Are People, Too

Jeff McFarlane is the owner of Thrive Pet Food Market. Contact him with your questions or ideas or visit

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