As you leave your pet alone for the day while you head to work, you want to ensure they’re entertained while you’re gone, so you provide a stockpile of chew toys. However, your furry pal’s treasure trove of toys may have hidden dangers, as many chew toys aren’t as safe as you’d think. Before loading up your pet’s toy basket with the most popular chews on the shelves, check out our rundown of these common items as we discuss what’s safe and unsafe for your four-legged friend.  

What type of chewer is your pet?

Chewing can greatly aid in your pet’s fight against periodontal disease, and most pets find it an enjoyable activity! If you choose to venture to your local pet supply store for dental care chews, keep in mind what type of chewer your pet is, along with a few other things.:

  • Does your pet take a chew and bury it in the back yard or under the bed?
  • Does your pet take a chew and chew for at least three to five minutes, and use both sides of their mouth?
  • Does your pet guard the chew and seem territorial of the item, but never chew it?
  • Does your pet attempt to swallow the chew whole, or chew and swallow it within two to three minutes?

Before we jump into the ins and outs of the best dental chew options for your pet, take a minute to learn about why your furry pal’s oral health is so important to their overall wellbeing. Check out Dr. Foret’s video about how to provide at-home dental care for your pet.

The pet product: Rubber Kong toys

Safe or unsafe?: Rubber Kong toys, which are popular for pets of all chewing strengths, top the safe chew toy list. These durable rubber toys are typically hollow, and can be stuffed with canned food, peanut butter, yogurt, and more, for a tasty, long-lasting treat, or frozen overnight to keep your pet entertained much longer. Kongs generally have a hole on each end, creating an airway if they are accidentally swallowed, so they are safer for dogs who try to eat every toy. However, Kong toys can still be chewed into pieces by a powerful chewer, so take care to match your pet’s chewing strength with the appropriate toy.

The pet product: Bones and antlers

Safe or unsafe?: Bones and antlers are considered go-to chew options for heavy chewers, but these items are two of the most dangerous pet chew toys. Extremely solid and durable, bones and antlers may seem perfect for chewing, but they’re too hard for pets’ teeth. In fact, these items are responsible for most tooth fractures in pets. They can also splinter and shatter, piercing your pet’s mouth, or lodging in their gastrointestinal tract, requiring surgical removal before your pet’s intestines are perforated, and systemic infection results. No matter how appealing these items may seem for your heavy-duty chewer, they’re best avoided for your pet’s safety.

The pet product: Greenies

Safe or unsafe?: Greenies include a variety of flavored dental products that are available as daily chews and crunchy treats, making them a great option for even the pickiest of pets. Greenies’ unique texture allows your pet’s teeth to sink in all the way to the gumline, making chews and treats even more effective at scraping away plaque and tartar. Since these products have been proven to be effective at slowing plaque and tartar accumulation, they’ve gained the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval, along with our’s. 

The pet product: Nylabones

Safe or unsafe?: Nylabones, which come in edible and inedible varieties, are considered safe by some, when used under supervision. However, University Veterinary Hospital does not recommend any Nylabone products. We have seen the edible and inedible types cause tooth fractures. 

The dog product: Rawhides

Safe or unsafe?: Rawhide chews are one of the most popular pet treats, but not all are created equal. Rawhides should be reserved for dogs who enjoy chewing for longer than five minutes. Some rawhide products are loaded with chemicals and prone to causing gastrointestinal issues. During processing, animal hide is treated with bleach or other chemicals, which can cause stomach upset or other health problems. We do not recommend just any type of rawhide—ask a University Veterinary Hospital team member whether rawhide products are safe for your pet, and which we recommend. Just because a product says “dental care” does not always mean it’s safe!

The dog product: Milk-Bones brushing chews

Safe or unsafe?: The specially designed shape of Milk-Bones brushing chews allows them to act as a toothbrush, providing daily scrubbing of your furry pal’s teeth. Ideal for all dog sizes, these brushing chews act as a treat and a dental-health chew in one, making them a perfect choice for your dog. 

The dog product: Goughnuts

Safe or unsafe?: Goughnuts are specially designed for all levels of chewers and make an excellent chew option for dogs. They come with a money-back guarantee and a built-in safety indicator. If your pup gnaws their way through the outer rubber layer and exposes the indicator, the company will replace the toy. No other company lets you know when your dog has destroyed their toy so much it is no longer considered safe, so Goughnuts are a great option for power chewers.

If you have questions or would like more information about what chew is safe for your pet, please refer to a trusted source such as the Veterinary Oral Health Council. You can also look for their white seal of approval on the back of food or treats you find in the store.

Although our skilled  University Veterinary Hospital team offers extractions and tooth-fracture repair for pets, we’d prefer your furry pal chew on safe toys and keep all their teeth intact. However, if your four-legged friend suffers from a dental-related disaster, we’re here to help. Call us to schedule an appointment.