Medical Treats

Safe chews for your dog, are they out there?

Safe chews that last for your dog

A Dog Safe Chews, Is There Such A Thing?

Chewing is vital to any pooch’s mental well-being. It is natural and beneficial for all dogs, cleaning their teeth, exercising their jaws, and keeping them occupied and entertained. However, if you don’t give them the appropriate materials to chew, they will find the ones that are not. So, In order to keep them form chewing your new Jimmy Choos (get it?), you’ll need to provide some approved safe chews instead. But which ones are the dog safe chews? The dog chew market is saturated. With so many to choose (did it again!) from, finding the right one can be a daunting task. Relax. We’ve got you covered.

First, the cardinal rule of dog chews:
We know you don’t want Sparky to get bored while you’re at work, but NEVER leave your fur-baby unsupervised with a dog chew. If you notice your dog swallowing pieces, take it away. If he shows any signs of distress or digestive issues like vomiting or diarrhea, call your veterinary clinic immediately.

Which Chews Should I Avoid?

No dog chew is completely 100% guaranteed safe. That being said, some are more dangerous than others. There are chews on the market that are indigestible. These provide a much higher chance of causing a gastrointestinal blockage, broken teeth, digestive upset. Many advertise as safe chews, or digestible. Please make sure you do some research if you find something you are interested in to give to your dog.

Sticks and Wood as chews

are sticks safe chews for my dog

What pup doesn’t love to gnaw on a good old-fashioned stick? It feels wrong to take away the spoils of their backyard hunt. However, when the wood splinters it can cause, well, splinters that stick in their teeth, gums, paws, or face and could potentially cause an infection. If they swallow any of the splinters, it puts them at risk for internal bleeding. Not just splinters, dogs have been known to get sticks lodged in their throat, especially while “ruffhousing”  They could also be treated with pesticides.

There are some safer wood chews out there, one of them liked by many, is the Gorilla Chew, made from all natural Java wood, the dogs can chew on it. However tiny pieces might break off but are very soft pieces not like normal wood splinters, they are more like a soft pulp. Nonetheless, you want to supervise your dog and the chew you give him.

Gorilla chew java wood dog toys

Gorilla chews are liked by many pups and owners


I know…we are just killing all the classics right now. But with good reason. Bones, especially cooked bones, are extremely dangerous as a chew for your dog. Because they are hard and indigestible once cooked, putting your pup’s teeth and GI tract greatly at risk. Dogs have been known to crack and chip their teeth on bones, and dog dental care is expensive! If your dog breaks a piece off and swallows it, the splinter could cause a compaction, internal bleeding or be a choking hazard.

This goes for cow hooves, horns, and antlers as well, many of these alternatives have been treated to be sterile enough so they can be sold in a store. Often so the consistency of the bone or hoof changes affecting how easy it can be digested. For example, the cow hooves we find at any pet store, great long lasting chew, they seem natural enough right? Often the opposite is true! They get dried or treated with chemicals, they are nowhere the same as if they came straight of the cow (yuck!). A pack of wild wolves could kill and eat the hooves and be fine, our dogs probably would be to if it came straight from the source.

Raw bones are considered a relatively safe chew, however make sure the size and type of bone is appropriate for your dog.

Rawhide or Ears

A popular choice for many pooches, particularly large breed dogs, some rawhide chews might be okay. Every dog owner at one point in their dog owning life probably has given a dog a rawhide chew. They are widely available in all types of shapes and sizes, often very cheap too. Even though rawhide is dried animal hide, which seems natural, what can be wrong with that? There is a lot of controversy on rawhides and ears.

First of all, It is important to get to know your dog’s chewing style. Some dogs will playfully gnaw, slowly eroding the surface of the chew until it’s gone. Other more aggressive chewers will demolish it as quickly as possible, swallowing large piece after large piece. The latter group should NEVER be given rawhide or ears. As they chow down on this chew, and ingest pieces of the rawhide or ear, it could get lodged in the throat, stomach or intestines.

Rawhide (including ears), cow hooves, socks and underwear are tin the top 10 list of objects veterinarian surgeons get to clear out frequently from a canine’s digestive tract. 

Please note, many brands of rawhide are also treated with potentially harmful chemicals. Although, there are a few types of rawhide that have been designed by veterinarians to be digestible and safe. Ask your clinic if there are any rawhides that are right for your dog and their chewing behavior.

The VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) lists tartar shield soft rawhide dental chews as an accepted chew for dogs.

Nylon or Plastic

This sounds like a no-brainer. Who hasn’t seen the famous Nylabones in the store? Why would you give your best friend plastic to chew on? In reality, many popular dog chews are made from these materials. Though they can damage teeth because they are very hard, and as the dog chews, it can cause sharp slivers that can be ingested. Obviously these are indigestible and would pose serious health risks if eaten. If you purchase Nylabones or any other plastic bones make sure you watch your dog closely and buy the size and type of chew that matches your furry friend’s chewing behavior. Nylabones do offer a very wide variety of bones that accommodate to each type of style of chewer, from pups to seniors they have something out there.

Which Are the Safe Chews?

There is no type of chew that is right for every brand of pooch. Though finding a pup safe chew, can be tough. Here is a quick list of available chew choices considered dog safe.

Dental Chews

These are often a safe bet, and they have the added benefit of cleaning teeth, removing plaque and tartar, and freshening your puppy’s breath. Widely available and a veterinarian can suggest the best type of dental safe chew for your dog. But some dogs are finicky and do not like the minty fresh taste. Although, some dogs forget these are chews and eat them like they are a treat. Buying dental chews that are to small for your dog to urge him to chew, can cause a choking hazard.

We covered our top 5 Dog Approved dental treats here

Bully Sticks

The demand for bully sticks has skyrocketed in recent years. They are made from a single ingredient, which is beef pizzle (penis. Eww. We know!). However, owners have been reporting these sticks as long lasting chews for some dogs. Natural and digestible, high in protein, and dogs love them. Placing them as a healthy considered relatively safe chews. Luckily there is a wide collection of bully sticks on the market. Various shapes and sizes are available to match what you and your pup might like. Also an appropriate sized bully stick will limit the choking hazard of a dog swallowing the whole thing at once. Some owners have said certain brands of bully sticks have somewhat of a odor to them. For more information we wrote an in depth article on bully sticks. Our personal bully sticks come from Desert Dog Products where we also get our Yak Chews from.

Yak Cheese Chews

Yak Cheese for a dog? Isn’t milk bad for a dog? Yak chews are the new thing getting increasingly popular. Limited ingredients, Yak and/or cow milk, some lime juice and a little bit of salt. This is actually a human grade lactose free hard cheese that dogs love. It’s digestible, natural, high in protein and low fat! Dogs take forever to chew these bars up and while they are working the chew it helps clean their teeth! If you are interested in trying  one of these chews we get both our bully sticks and Yak Chews from Desert Dog Products.

Tracheas (or other animal parts)

Tracheas are known to benefit dogs’ joints. Other safe animal parts for chewing include the gullet, tendons, tripe, and aorta. They tend to last longer than dental chews and tend to not have an odor to them.


You may want to try out different dog safe chews until you find one that works for your pup. Age, size, dental health, and temperament all factor in to the decision. It is important that you talk to your veterinarian about which safe chew might be best for your pup. There is a lot to consider and a lot of options out there.

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