Choosing Safe Dog Chews

Chewing is essential to dogs, enhancing oral health and satisfying psychological needs. So choosing the right chew is vital for your dog’s safety and well-being.

A Profusion of Casualties

Abraham Lincoln advised his generals: “Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and chokeas much as possible.” Unfortunately, his guidance also describes many dogs’ chew experience. Most of the 64 million U.S. dog households offer chews to their 90 million dogs. Based on recent studies, we conservatively estimate that tens of thousands of serious chew casualties occur among these dogs, along with millions of gum lesions. This analysis only includes esophageal, not other GI obstructions, and only those cases in the USA that reach the ER.

A Dark Secret to Chew On

We found that although many chews claim high digestibility and longevity, most products tested are neither safe nor durable, and are therefore falsifying claims. We tested 32 chews across ten categories for safety and durability. Only three tested (9.4%) can be considered safe. Nineteen (56.4%) claim high digestibility or high digestive degradability (the ability of a food item to disintegrate in the digestive tract), yet only DigestaBone® exhibited consistently safe performance. DigestaBone also proved to be one of the few highly durable chews.

Study Debunks Myths

  • Soft chews are safer: Not necessarily. Although they may pose a reduced lesion risk, they can be extremely undigestible, presenting a heightened risk of GI obstruction.
  • It is okay to throw your dog a bone: No, it is not. Many bone types are among the least digestible/most unsafe chews available and are prone to fracturing into sharp shards.
  • Hard cheese chews are safe because they are natural: No, they are not. They are extremely undigestible, are prone to fragmenting into sharp shards, and can expand in a dog’s digestive tract.
  • Dental chews are safe: Not necessarily. Some are quite undigestible. You wouldn’t provide your child with a snack that was not digestibly degradable and that fragmented into sharp shards, would you? Of course not!

Disclosure: The author developed DigestaBone and has interest in Chews Happiness®.

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