Some people may think dog chew toys are pretty much all the same. We may just pick the one we like the look of best, or the one we think is the best value, or maybe even the one near the store counter – because we just happen to be standing there. However, there’s a lot more to think about if you want to ensure comfort and safety for your puppy’s chewing phase. Read on for my top tips on the best chew toys for puppies.
Why is a puppy different?
Puppies are babies – it’s as simple as that. For anyone who has children, you will be familiar with the child-proofing that goes on in your home during the early years. We hide away things, lock cupboards and protect the stairs – and still there are sometimes accidents, despite our best efforts. The same is true for puppies! In respect of any toys, the main things to think about is they are likely to swallow anything they manage to eat – whether that be string, a pair of ladies pantyhose, a shoe lace – well, you get the picture.
If you would like to see some of my general tips for buying dog toys, please click here.
A puppy’s teeth
I still remember our first dog, and despite growing up on a farm surrounded by working dogs, I had never realized they lost their teeth – just like humans! To be fair, the working dogs never lived in the house, even at puppy stage, so it was unlikely I was ever going to find their teeth lying around. However, I did get a shock the first time I found one of our German Shepherd’s teeth, embedded in the carpet. I thought there was something wrong, so it was off to Google firstly to hear it is an entirely normal part of puppy development.
Another thing, a puppy’s teeth are sharp – razor, sharp! With the same dog, I was fluffing the duvet one day, and Rocky thought it was a fun game to jump up and down, mouth wide open to try and catch it. However, my hand came down on his mouth and his teeth sliced open one of my fingers pretty badly. Needless to say, I think he was more perturbed by the blood than I was.
Both these facts help us understand why puppies have an almost uncontrollable desire to chew. It’s all part of losing their baby teeth and making way for their permanent dog grin. The chewing helps pull out the baby teeth when they’re ready (and yes, we did find some of Rocky’s teeth stuck in his chew toys), as well as relieving the gum pressure that builds as the new teeth are ready to emerge. And just like human babies, there is likely to be a lot of saliva on the go too!
What characteristics should puppy chew toys have?
They need to be
Firm & durable, but not too hard – If the chew toy isn’t durable, it won’t last long. But there must also be a little “give” in the texture, or they can hurt their gums when they bite down. It’s important to remember that the gums will be relatively sensitive at this stage.
Unbreakable – It’s natural that a chew toy will deteriorate over time, especially with the constant chewing and moisture of a puppy’s mouth. However, no puppy toy should shatter or break into smaller pieces that can then be ingested or cause a chocking hazard. Whilst rubber might be good for chewing, it’s not so good inside a puppy’s digestive tract and the last thing anyone will want is an emergency trip to the vet.
Size-Appropriate – Picture if you will two puppies – one is a jack Russell Terrier, the other is a Great Dane. They will have very different mouth sizes, even as puppies. Because of this, the same general rule of thumb applies as for grown dogs – a toy that is too small can choke a dog, or be swallowed, whilst something too large can get jammed in their mouth and cause pain and sometimes even injury. So please think about the size of your puppy, and select chew toys that are the right size.
Tasty (might not be important to all puppies!) – A chew toy that has an appealing flavor, or has treats inside, is likely to hold your puppy’s interest for longer periods of time. Just be careful with any flavors that aren’t natural – artificial chemicals can do all sort of funny things to any dog’s behavior. A playful puppy is fun, a hyper “wired” puppy is not.
A Good Idea to Have More than One!
Variety is the spice of life, and this is likely to be true for your puppy too. It’s good to try a few options during teething – your puppy may get more relief for their sore gums from chewing a particular type, and different shapes and textures will also keep him/her interested.
You can also treat some toys as you would baby teething rings, and put them in the fridge or freezer to help give extra relief to sore puppy gums. Please check any instructions first though, as not all chew toys will be suitable for this.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. If you have any thoughts or experiences you would be willing to share, please leave a comment below. It would be great to hear from you.