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At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Safe Dog Bones and Chews
All dogs, from the smallest Pomeranian to the largest Mastiff, have an instinctual desire to chew. And it is your responsibility as an owner to help ensure your dog gets the chance to scratch this itch.
In fact, chewing is more than just something dogs do for enjoyment or to pass the time — it can actually provide tangible benefits for your dog’s health and well-being.
But you can’t just give your dog anything to chew on. You have to provide him with something that is safe and healthy, as well as something that will last long enough for him to chew for a while.
And, if you want to ensure your aggressive chewer enjoys the experience to the fullest, you’ll also want to make sure it is delicious.
Essentially, you want to give your dog something he can chew on for a while, yet digest it as easily as if it were food. You want edible dog bones or chews.
If you are in a hurry, we’ve listed some of the best dog bones for aggressive chewers in the table below.
Or, you can scroll down to learn more about the reasons dogs like to chew, the problems with real bones, and the best long lasting edible dog bones for keeping your canine healthy and happy.
Quick Overview: Safe Dog Bones and Chews
GREENIES Original Dental Dog Treats
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SmartBones Rawhide-Free Dog Chews
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Blue Buffalo Dental Bones
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Pawstruck MONSTER Braided Bully Stick
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EcoKind Himalayan Gold Yak Chews
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Your dog’s desire to chew can be traced back to his wolf-like ancestors. These wild canines could only eat what they could catch, so food was always at a premium.
This means that they would not only dine upon the flesh of the animals they killed, but most other edible parts of the carcass as well, including several major organs, skin and bones.
Bones represented a very important dietary component for these prehistoric canines. They not only provide a considerable amount of calcium, which is important for proper bone development and a host of other biological processes, many are full of nutrient- and calorie-rich marrow.
Accordingly, once the more delicious parts of a kill were eaten, these ancestors of modern dogs would sit down and begin working on the bones. They’d rasp off pieces of meat, cartilage and connective tissue with their tongues, and then bring their teeth to bear on the hard bone.
Eventually, they’d wear the bone down enough to access the marrow, and ingest a healthy dose of calcium in the process.
While bones served as an important dietary item for primitive dogs, they also represent a serious health risk.
Bones can and do splinter, which can send sharp bone shards through a dog’s digestive tract. These fragments can lead to blockages or perforations – both of which are often fatal.
Chewing on bones can also cause broken teeth and other dental problems, which are both painful and potentially deadly for animals who depend on their teeth to survive.
But because calcium and calories were so difficult for these ancestral dogs to obtain, it still made more evolutionary sense for them to continue to consume bones, despite the inherent risks.
Most dogs consumed bones for the duration of their (often brief) lives and did so without incident; however, others undoubtedly died from the practice.
However, your dog does not need to go to such extreme lengths to obtain enough calcium or calories. Most modern dog foods provide all of the calcium your dog will need, and obesity is a more common problem for modern pets than malnutrition.
Therefore, it is not wise to provide your dog with real bones – the risks are simply too great.
And to clear up a common myth: Cooking may make bones more likely to shatter, but even raw bones can break into numerous sharp pieces when chewed.
The issue of dog bones and chews is a bit of a catch-22.
On the one hand, dog bones and chews need to be hard enough to satisfy your dog’s desire to gnaw, and yet soft enough to prevent broken teeth.
Check out the following video where Dr. Campbell, DVM discusses safe dog bones and what to watch out for:
You’ll also want to ensure that the edible dog bone is made of ingredients that are easy for your dog to digest and pass, to avoid potentially fatal intestinal blockages.
This limits the number of things that you can give your dog to chew.
For example, while we’ve already explained the problems with real bones, antlers and hooves are often also too hard for your dog’s teeth, so they should be avoided too.
Rawhide treats last a long time, and they’re probably not likely to damage your dog’s teeth, but the rawhide material can take a very long time to digest and the potential for gastrointestinal blockage is very real.
Pig ears may last long enough to give your dog some good chew time, but power chewers will tear through them in a matter of seconds.
Bully sticks are usually digestible and they aren’t very likely to damage your dog’s teeth, but they are expensive.
Additionally, many pig ears, rawhides and similar items become contaminated by bacteria during processing.
There are a variety of crunchy treats on the market, but few will last long very long – they just represent additional calories, without providing the health benefits you are seeking.
But don’t be discouraged: There is a solution.
To help solve this problem, several manufacturers have begun making edible dog chews and bones that can help satisfy your dog’s need to gnaw, provide a wealth of health benefits and pass through your dog’s system without causing problems.
While none of these will last for weeks the way a real bone may, most will last long enough to delight even the most aggressive and determined chewers.
If you are ready to give your dog some edible dog bones, consider the following five long lasting dog chews. Each of these has been very well-reviewed by other dog owners and possess the majority of traits you’d want in safe dog chews.
GREENIES Original Dental Dog Treats are some of the most popular and best-reviewed edible dog chews on the market. GREENIES are primarily designed to keep your dog’s teeth clean, but they often last long enough to give dogs some quality chewing time before they are eventually swallowed.
User Reviews: Most owners who have tried GREENIES are pleased with the product and end up making them a regular part of their dog’s daily schedule. While most owners found that the treats to be effective at keeping their dog’s teeth clean and breath fresh, some were disappointed that the treats didn’t last longer.
The only real complaints about these products include customers who experienced shipping, handling or packaging problems. Additionally, a very few dogs simply found the treats unpalatable.
Bottom Line: GREENIES are a great option for most dogs and their owners, as they’re made from safe and delicious ingredients and provide significant dental benefits. They may not last as long as power-chewing dog owners would like, but they still offer a safe and constructive outlet for your dog’s instincts.
SmartBones Rawhide-Free Dog Chews are safe and tasty dog chews that should drive most power-chewing pets wild. Unlike rawhide, which can cause intestinal obstructions, these chews are made with digestible ingredients, including real chicken, peanut butter and vegetables.
User Reviews: Most owners were very pleased with SmartBones Dog Chews and rated them very highly. Most dogs seem to like the taste of these chews and enjoy ripping them up with their teeth. A few owners did mention that these could cause a mess on the carpet, so you probably want to give them to your dog on a tile or hardwood floor.
Bottom Line: SmartBones Rawhide-Free Dog Chews are a great option for most dogs, and they deserve serious consideration. They’re affordably priced, and they are made with high-quality ingredients like chicken and peanut butter.
They are made in Vietnam, which may give some owners pause, but edible pet products manufactured in Vietnam are typically of higher quality than those made in China.
Perhaps better known for their premium foods, Blue Buffalo prides itself on producing only the best products, using only the highest-quality ingredients. Manufactured with a natural bone shape, designed to appeal to your dog’s inner wolf, these dog bones satisfy your dog’s need to chew and your need to keep him safe.
User Reviews: As with most other Blue Buffalo products, most owners who try these chew bones become instant devotees. The vast majority of dogs appear to love the taste, texture and resistance of Blue Buffalo Dental Bones, and owners appreciate knowing they are giving their dog the very best.
As with most other edible dog chews, the most aggressive and determined dogs finished these very quickly (within 10 minutes or less), but more moderate chewers often enjoyed them across several sittings.
Bottom Line: Blue Buffalo products are almost always worth trying. Even if they don’t end up being your final choice, you can be confident that you are experimenting with a product produced by one of the finest food and treat manufacturers in business. Based on the majority of the user reviews, Blue Buffalo Dental Bones are one of the best dog bones for chewers.
The Pawstruck MONSTER Braided Bully Stick is an 8-strand bully stick that is made from grass-fed cattle. Unlike most other bully sticks (also called pizzle sticks), these extra-large, extra-thick bully sticks are long lasting dog chews that should should satisfy your canine for quite some time, even if given to a power-chewing pet.
User Reviews: Most owners raved about the quality of the Pawstruck MONSTER Braided Bully Sticks and were very pleased with their purchase. Most owners reported that – unlike many other bully sticks – these did not have an offensive odor. Finally, thanks to the 8-stranded, braided construction, they appear to last much longer than regular bully sticks.
Bottom Line: Bully sticks are a great edible dog chew for dogs, but the problem is that most are too small for aggressive chewers. They’re also pretty expensive.
But these 8-stranded bully sticks should last most dogs for hours (if not days), and they’re pretty affordably priced. Paraguay isn’t an ideal manufacturing location, but these chews are made in top-notch facilities, so they should be safe.
Yak chews have been used in Nepal for hundreds of years, and EcoKind Himalayan Gold Yak Chews are among the best ones on the market. They’re made from a combination of cow and yak milk, and they’re not only very tough and durable, but they are completely digestible too.
User Reviews: Although relatively few owners are familiar with yak chews, those who try them are typically very pleased with their decision. They are very safe for dogs, and most dogs seem to love the taste. They are also extremely tough and last for a long time. In fact, several owners reported that they typically provide about 8 to 10 hours of chewing pleasure.
Bottom Line: EcoKind Himalayan Gold Yak Chews are a great bone for aggressive chewers. They are a bit pricey, but they last longer than most of the other edible chews on the market.
These treats are made in Nepal, but they are made in high-quality facilities. This is unfortunately unavoidable, as there aren’t many places in the world that harvest yak milk.
Some of the most notable benefits of edible dog chews include:
Not all edible dog bones are created equally. Some are marvelous products that provide a ton of benefits and only have a limited downside, but others can make your dog sick.
And while every dog is an individual, with varying needs and idiosyncrasies, there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when selecting the best product for your dog.
Many owners are worried about purchasing foods or treats that have become contaminated with toxins. While you can’t do anything to completely eliminate this possibility, you can significantly reduce the chances of this occurring by sticking to treats made in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Western Europe, whenever possible.
This isn’t always possible, and you may notice that we include two products above that are not included on this list. However, Paraguay and Vietnam are both home to several high-quality, FDA-compliant facilities.
Many low-cost edible bones and treats are made from high-calorie, sugar-rich ingredients and little else. Some even contain chemicals used to keep the bones together which can be hard on your dog’s stomach.
Instead, opt for those chews and treats that are made with the same kinds of high-quality ingredients you’d want in your pet’s food.
The best edible dog chews are designed to help scrape your dog’s teeth clean while he chews. Dental health is an often-overlooked consideration, but it is very important to take care of your dog’s teeth, so he can continue to chew his food as he ages.
Many edible dog bones are made with common allergens, such as corn, wheat or chicken meals. While many dogs can and do tolerate these ingredients, others can suffer from very itchy skin if provided with these types of items.
You’ll need to work with your vet to establish exactly what causes your dog problems, and then avoid edible bones containing the offending ingredients.
If you select bones that are too small, your dog will simply chew it up and swallow it without getting the mental or dental benefits of a long chewing session. On the flip side, bones that are too large may not allow your dog to get a comfortable grip on the chew.
Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations and use your own judgment to find the perfect size for your pup.
Edible bones are generally good for dogs, but too much of a good thing can lead to problems. For example, many edible dog bones are high in calories, which can cause your dog to put on extra weight over time.
Accordingly, you’ll need to consider the caloric content of any edible bone, to ensure he stays fit and trim.
Additionally, excessive treat consumption can also lead to nutritional deficiencies, as your dog begins getting more empty calories from the treats, and less from his food.
You should, of course, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and consult with your vet anytime you decide to give your dog a new food or treat. However, assuming that your dog receives sufficient exercise and are generally healthy, he will probably benefit from a one-treat-per-day schedule.
Have you stumbled upon a great dog chew for aggressive chewers that you’d like to tell us about? Or do you have any questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments below!
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