How do I protect my dogs teeth from injury?
March 26, 2014 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Help this first time dog owner, Amazon reviews have got me spooked! I've scoured amazon for toys for my pup, and it seems like many, if not most toys feature one or more reviewers complaining that said toy caused their dog to crack or injure their teeth. I'd like to avoid this with my dog, so what are the general guidelines for preventing cracked and injured teeth in dogs? What should I always avoid? What is generally safe? I'm really not sure what questions to ask here, so please tell me anything you know about keeping a dogs teeth free from injury. Thanks!
posted by long haired child to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yikes! I have never heard of this, can you link to a few of the reviews?
posted by radioamy at 5:12 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

A dog cracking a tooth on a chew toy is exceptional. In the same way the people cracking a healthy tooth by chewing is exceptional. Certainly dogs and people crack teeth due to poor dental health or severe impact, but chewing? That's odd.

Normal stuff like rawhide and kongs? Not going to crack a healthy tooth.
posted by 26.2 at 5:19 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Given most dogs' general dental health, I'd say people griping on Amazon have a correlation/causation problem. (People griping on Amazon like to gripe, as well.)

Just be reasonable, and don't give your dogs anything to chew that you wouldn't chew yourself (I mean because of hardness, not grossness). If you have multiple dogs or your dog will often be playing with other dogs, you should be thoughtful about what you give them to play with if they are really determined tuggers. We have several good-sized knotted rope bones, but I would take them away if they were dragging each other around the yard with them. I really prefer they tug with something that'll rip before it'll take a tooth out.

One of my dogs lost a tooth because it was caught in one of the other dog's collars during a fight. It takes a lot of pressure to break a healthy tooth.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:20 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have to wonder about some people and their reviews. Dogs, like humans will lose their baby teeth and teething is a big part of that process. What the dog will prefer to chew on will vary, but generally plastic or rubber toys will hold up well while they are pups. I have had really good luck with Nylabones in particular, but pretty much any such toy will do just fine.

Dogs have pretty amazingly strong teeth - their bite is many times stronger than a humans and so the teeth are generally much sturdier. I imagine that chewing is very pleasurable for dogs - I have yet to meet one that didn't like to chew something at least sometimes.

It can happen though, that they will weaken or chip a tooth - you should always supervise your dog with toys and judge how much and how hard they gnaw on something and judge accordingly.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:26 PM on March 26, 2014

by request, here are some examples. thanks!
posted by long haired child at 5:30 PM on March 26, 2014

Nylabones are too hard. The general rule is that if it's too hard for the dog to destroy, it's too hard, with the exception of rubbery toys like Kongs.

Safe chews are things like bully sticks, cow tails, tendons.

Unsafe chews are things like antlers, bones, and Nylabones.

Chewing is important, but be careful what you choose (antlers are very popular, and the number of premolars we end up extracting where I work as a direct result of them, bones, Nylabones, and other too-hard chews is shocking, my own dog lost both her big upper premolars after just a day of chewing an antler ended up giving her major slab fractures on both). Antlers = bad choice!
posted by biscotti at 5:32 PM on March 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

I would not give my dogs any of those three toys.

Dogs don't need to chew on things with no give. I don't give them hooves or antlers or bones (among other reasons, I have concerns about contaminants in hard livestock discards) because I wouldn't trust my own teeth on them. Also, a dog can mostly clear a soft throat obstruction but could choke to death on a piece of any of those (or tear their esophagus).
posted by Lyn Never at 5:35 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most dogs won't chew on bones once all the meat is gone if they have something else to chew on so I think bone and antler are too hard. My dog is a dedicated chewer and prefers things she can destroy utterly to things like bones which are not very satisfying. So I get her rawhides from Costco and that's a good balance of cost/ time to destruction for us.

She also gets various softer toys and rubber balls when they're on sale or I feel generous but they generally die a swift death.
posted by fshgrl at 6:00 PM on March 26, 2014

I've been told by several dog owners that tennis balls are bad for chewing, because their surface is abrasive.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:27 PM on March 26, 2014

One of my dogs has two cracked teeth (two slab fractures, one of which later broke to the root and had to be extracted). I have taken him to two board-certified veterinary dentists for specialty care, and what both of them have said is if you wouldn't whack yourself in the knee with it, don't give it to your dog to chew. That eliminates antlers, hooves and bones. But I think that rule is too lax, even, because I've heard of dogs aplenty cracking teeth on Nylabones and I guess I wouldn't mind hitting myself in the knee with one of those.

I don't really trust those byproduct dried chews, either--their poop is always a gelatinous slimy mess afterward and I raw feed them with all kinds of weird things (put through a food grinder) and they always have beautiful poop, so something is definitely unhealthful about those dried chews. So, I have reluctantly concluded that the only thing I feel good about giving them is a filled Kong, which doesn't exactly involve chewing but does seem to satisfy the same urge. And a Kong is pure rubber and made in USA, so presumably pretty safe.
posted by HotToddy at 6:34 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Our vet said anything too hard to dent with your thumbnail is too hard.
posted by tealcake at 10:29 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

X100 Tennis Balls!
By the time my pup was three, her insistence on carrying a tb in her mouth (she didn't actively chew them) had worn the enamel - and exposed the dentin - on many of her teeth.
posted by cyrreb at 6:02 AM on March 27, 2014

Oh hmm yeah I can see how those would exacerbate previous dental problems. For bones I would stick with rawhide, and for toys something with a little more give. If you need recommendations of durable toys for mega-chewers, I'm sure some MeFites can give you some recs.

Honestly my bigger concern with dog toys are flimsy stuffed ones that my dog will rip apart immediately and expose something he could choke on.
posted by radioamy at 9:47 AM on March 27, 2014

If your dog's teeth are healthy in general, I don't think you have to worry that much. On the other hand, if your dog's teeth are in poor condition, then I would think more closely about the toys/treat I am giving. I found this out the hard way recently when one of my adopted dogs broke her tooth on a Nylabone. She had a fairly severe malocclusion to begin with and her canine teeth are all very thin in appearance. The broken tooth needed to be extracted. I have had dogs my entire life and never had one break a tooth, so I am going to be much more careful from now on about the things I allow her to chew.
posted by parakeetdog at 5:18 PM on March 27, 2014

« Older What to do about small scratches on car?   |   Basic Video Editing Software for PC Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.