Why Dog Owners Should Avoid Bone Chew Toys

Dental, Dogs

When I go to my local pet store I am still surprised to see how many inappropriate chew toys and treats are being sold for dogs. It does not take much time to find real animal bones of all assortments, plus cow hooves and deer antlers.

What do these treats have in common? They are too hard for dog’s teeth, and a common cause of fractured teeth in our patients.

Bone Chew Toys Can Lead to Years of Pain

I think these types of treats have become so common place that people have begun to accept that these types of treats are fine for their pets. It is an unfortunate situation because it often leads to serious dental disease and the percentage of owners that pursue dental care/treatment is still low. This can lead to years of dental pain that originates from “a treat” we gave to our pet.

Damaged teeth can be a source for infection and pain. Animals do not outwardly show signs of dental pain which makes it even more critical to practice good preventative dental health with our pets.

Dog Teeth Are Weaker Than Human Teeth

People often have this impression that a dog’s teeth are very strong. Well, did you know that a humans’ tooth is actually stronger than a dogs? The enamel layer of a tooth is what gives strength and durability our teeth and animals’ teeth. The average thickness of enamel in a human tooth is about 2.5 mm while in a dog it is only between 0.5 mm – 1 mm.

On top of that, due to centuries of selective breeding, we now have dogs with very strong jaw muscles that can now generate a greater amount of force. This makes certain breeds (especially bully breeds) even more prone to tooth fractures.

How To Know When a Treat is Too Hard

With so many treats and toys available for our dogs you may be confused in deciding what is, and what is not, an appropriate chew toy for your dog.

The Kneecap Rule

Dr. Fraser Hale of Hale Veterinary Clinic in Ontario, Canada offers an interesting solution: Whenever deciding whether a treat is too hard or not, consider what would happen if you took the treat in question and slapped yourself in the kneecap with it. If you think it would hurt, then it is too hard for your dog to chew on. For small dogs, imagine hitting the dog’s knee rather than your own. If it would yelp, find something softer.

Rawhide Chips Are Safe, and Dogs Love Them

My number one chew treat for my own dogs is an appropriately sized rawhide chip. I like the rawhide made by Virbac (C.E.T. Chews). For one, they sell their rawhide in different sizes and thicknesses so you can buy a chew that will fit comfortably in your dog’s mouth. Two, Virbac’s chews have an enzyme system integrated into the rawhide that helps degrade tartar on dogs’ teeth.

I’m glad we carry these at our clinic so I can always keep myself in stock for my dogs. And, by following these guidelines for your dogs, you may be able to avoid serious damage to your dog’s teeth. This will save your pet a lot of pain, and you a lot of money in veterinary fees!

– Dr. Ryan Ashkon Beizavi

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center provides medical and surgical care for cats and dogs at our animal hospital and veterinary clinic in Essex, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Our services include preventive wellness care exams, vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care. Our state-of-the-art veterinary offices are conveniently located near I-695 where we see pets from Towson, Honeygo, White Marsh, and other neighboring Baltimore areas.

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