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Ask Dr. Debbie
Q: I’d like to give my dog something to chew on to spare my rugs and furniture. He shreds stuffed animals in minutes. What about rawhides, do you recommend them?
A: There is always a trade off when it comes to chewing options for dogs. The truth is that there is not any single product that is 100% safe for dogs to chew on. Flavored treat bones may cause digestive upset, soft items are easily destroyed, and hard items cause tooth injury…so what is a dog owner to do? First consider your dog’s chewing needs, chew force, and your need to keep him or her occupied. A smaller dog with a mild to moderate chew force but with a mischievous side requires an item that lasts a long time and keeps his attention. Look for plastic chews, rope bones, or dog puzzles with places to hide treats inside. I don’t recommend soft latex plastic toys for most dogs- they don’t last and even toy breeds will chew pieces off easily. Stuffed plush toys can be fun, but are easily damaged. Pieces of these toys and the microfiber stuffing may cause an intestinal blockage.
What to consider if you have a large dog that can chew apart anything? Look into more durable lines like Nylabone, Kong, or Bionic brand dog toys. A dog with a strong bite force requires harder items, but can risk tooth damage if the item is too hard. Skip the bones, whether cooked or raw varieties. Feeding bones can result in splintering, injury along the digestive tract, tooth breakage, and digestive upset for your pet.
You ask about rawhides- dogs absolutely love them. But after a few minutes of chewing, many rawhides morph into a slimy mess and whose smaller pieces pose a choking risk. One variety of rawhide I do recommend is the compressed rawhide. These rawhides are compressed under high pressures and hold up for longer chewing entertainment. Compressed rawhides are more durable than knotted rawhide bones, rawhide sticks or the nifty shaped treats made of chopped up rawhide bits. Compressed rawhides keep my Labradors occupied for hours, instead of minutes with typical edible chews. But throw away the small nubs at the end of any rawhide product to avoid choking risk. Direct supervision is advised when giving your dog any chew item.
Pet of the Month
We are honored to recognize Coco as our September 2013 Pet of the Month.
Pet Flipping Warning
One of latest unfortunate trends in crime targets pets. “Pet flipping” is when a person steals someone’s family pet, then turns around to sell the animal making a profit. Some pets are stolen from yards and vehicles, or even through pet sitting scams. A recent study by the American Kennel Club discovered a 27.8% increase in the number of dog thefts between January and May 2013 when compared to 2012. Purebred dogs account for most of the stolen dogs.
To avoid becoming a victim to pet flipping don’t leave your pet unattended in the backyard or allow him to wander. Don’t tie your pooch up outside a store, even when running in for just a minute. And most important, ensure your pet is permanently identified with a microchip. For more information and tips on keeping your pet safe from pet flipping, check out Dr. Debbie’s blog www.drdebbie.net.