Give my dog something to chew on
May 21, 2016 8:21 AM   Subscribe

I have a large dog who's a powerful chewer. She's not interested in plastic/rubber bones or other toys. What can I get her that will maximize time chewing for the lowest cost, without choking/digestion issues?

She loves rawhides and could get through a big one in a day or two if I never took it away from her, but I have to watch her like a hawk or she'll try to swallow an enormous piece. Also, I know it's not digestible. Pig ears are gone in a few minutes; bully sticks take more like 30 (and they're expensive). She has a black kong that I sometimes stuff with wet dog food and freeze, and that'll take her an hour or two. Squeaker toys become a pile of fabric and stuffing in an hour or so. Is there something that she could really work on for a few days without the choking hazard and crazy high cost?
posted by deus ex machina to Pets & Animals (25 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My lab loves chewing on his antler! It takes him ages (3+ months) to "finish" one (I take it away before it becomes a choking hazard). I was initially a little concerned because they're so hard, but the vet gave the antlers the thumbs up and I've seen no signs of tooth issues whatsoever.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 8:25 AM on May 21, 2016 [9 favorites]

Have you tried Himalayan Yak Chews? They work pretty well for our powerful chewer. But whether they count as a cheap option or not will be determined how quickly your dog can work through one.
posted by meese at 8:25 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding antlers. I have a tiny, gnawy, nervous terrier and his antler lasts for months. He sleeps on top of it. My stomach turned a bit when I bought the first, but it's well-worth the money.
posted by kimberussell at 8:31 AM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

nthing antlers!
posted by phunniemee at 8:34 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Buffalo horns might be enjoyed!
posted by The otter lady at 8:48 AM on May 21, 2016

I gave my Bull Mastiff a chunk of fine grained white oak with no knot holes, he slowly turned it into sawdust.
posted by ridgerunner at 8:50 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

We used to give our dog giant (raw) cow femur bones from the butcher. I think my mom had the butcher cut them in half (the short way, not along the length of the bone) so she could sort of get to the marrow if she worked at it. They last forever.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:51 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, another vote for antlers and horns of various types (deer, caribou, mouse) and Everest chews. Everest chews are some kind of super-hard Tibetan cheese. You wouldn't think cheese could be hard, but it is. Having had dogs of various sizes, I find that Everest chews actually last longer for bigger dogs with bigger/more powerful teeth. I find that my little 6lb dog can use her needle-fine teeth to split the chew apart into smaller pieces and can actually eat them relatively quickly. But even slightly bigger dogs can never really seem to get through them. I had a beagle who was a powerful chewer and he had one for years without getting through it completely, though he loved it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:58 AM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

The only thing we've found that our Jack Russell can't destroy in a few days is elk antler. He's had one for months, chews it daily, and it still looks brand new.
posted by COD at 9:35 AM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm watching this with interest because I also have a lab/chow mix who loves to chew. Any recs for where to get antlers?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 9:35 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

We bought ours at Petsmart or PetCo. It was a $20 for one sized for small dogs.
posted by COD at 9:36 AM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

My friend's border terrier also loves his antler. It is the inverse foodstuff of wasabi peas in that it lasts him for ages.
posted by biffa at 9:40 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Look out for pork skin rawhides they are easily digestible and just as chewy as beef rawhide. They are the only rawhide my dog can handle chewing without getting an upset stomach & ending up at the vets, also he doesn't seem to break of as big a pieces of it as he did with beef rawhide There is a range called Pork Chomps that are very reasonably priced, even cheaper if you find them at a rural supply store.
posted by wwax at 9:56 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine swears by Michigan Antler Art as her source. Apparently the guy who runs the site, Terry, will cut antlers to your order.
posted by zebra at 10:02 AM on May 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Er...that should have been moose, not mouse. I don't suggest mouse antlers for a dog as big as yours. Moose antlers last longer than the other antler types. They marrow-y (ok, it's not soft like marrow, but kind of channelled/web-y like marrow) stuff on the inside of deer/caribou etc. antlers is easier for dogs to break apart. I think moose antlers have some of that stuff, too, but it's inside and blocked by hard stuff on all sides, so dogs can't get to it as easily.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:17 AM on May 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

I second frozen raw bones.
posted by bearwife at 10:35 AM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

I get my antlers on Amazon, I'll spend like $30 for a giant one but it lasts my 95-pound lab mix for MONTHS. The only thing that's lasted longer has been his Nylabone, and that's just because he doesn't care about it nearly as much and will only chew on it when he can't find an antler.
posted by babelfish at 10:43 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing antlers. Also, our lab loves rawhide, so we buy the Digesteeze brand which is supposedly gentler on the system. She has never had any notable adverse effects from chewing/eating them. There's also a new Kong toy which involves a tennis ball that fits into a notch in a large plastic squeaky ball and rolls around its circumference; she loves playing with it and especially chewing the plastic/squeaky/rubbery larger ball, which has stood up to the abuse admirably.
posted by charmcityblues at 11:52 AM on May 21, 2016

Well, I was gonna say antlers too, but I won't because you have neglected to include the mandatory link to a picture of said dog. So no answer for you.

(If only I had a penguin... - so how long do mouse antlers last?)
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:53 AM on May 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

I asked a similar question a while ago.

Since then I've basically settled on a combination of antlers, kongs (which she licks, rather than chews), and stuffed cow shins. I noticed that she often sits down for a solid chew after eating. I figure that her wolf ancestors would have hunted down a rabbit or deer or whatever, ate a bunch of meat off a haunch and then gnawed the bone for a bit and she has an urge to repeat the same pattern. So I get packs of some kind of compressed rawhide chew. Something that I know will only last an hour or less and won't break into big chunks that she could choke on but are cheap and she'll pretty reliably choose that over something longer-lasting after she eats dinner. It's usually one a day but sometimes they last into the next day. The rest of the time she makes do with two different antlers and a couple of different stuffed shins. Mostly she seems to like to gather the bones around her where she sleeps. Dogs are weird.

Sometimes I look around best bully sticks for random stuff to try. I've also found some interesting stuff at which is where I order food from and it's convenient to get treats or chews along with it.
posted by VTX at 1:06 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dogs love to chew bones. They hide them, bury them in the yard, then get them out later, after the earth has digested them a bit. Just real bones, good stuff for dogs.
posted by Oyéah at 1:38 PM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Antlers are hard enough to break dog teeth if your dog is a hard chewer, and the teeth they break doing this, usually the carnassials, are important quality of life teeth. Because they're the teeth they chew with, and chewing is fun. Nina had a couple of teeth pulled with slab fractures because of antlers, which would have cost around $2000 if she didn't work at the clinic, and you can tell she has a little trouble chewing kibbles now. *sadface*

biscotti's usual line is that if you can't dent it with your thumbnail, it's probably too hard. "Long-lasting is not a benefit," she just now said.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

My mother will buy marrow bones, which are just cow femurs cut into 3" sections, at the grocery store and freeze them. The marrow occupies our dog's undivided attention for hours right when they're fresh, but he'll chew on the bone intermittently for months. He's an eight-month-old, 80 pound, half Great Pyrenees puppy. He has bones that he got back when he still had his puppy teeth, and they're still largely intact.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:22 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

My heavy chewing dogs somehow actually prefer the tiny dog sized "bone" shaped chews, and they're cheaper. Plus, my dog doesn't try to swallow it like she used to try to swallow an entire pig ear at once.
posted by bookdragoness at 3:43 PM on May 21, 2016

Just chipping in that while buffalo horns last for ages, they absolutely STINK while wet with slobber. We've settled for a Kong/bone marrow/antler rotation. The Kong 'bones' are great too.
posted by teststrip at 1:43 AM on May 22, 2016

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