What can my dog chew on?
January 7, 2008 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Chewfilter: My dog, a year-old or so terrier mix, loves to chew rawhide bones. Seriously LOVES to chew them. But she goes through them fast enough that I worry about it. What can I get her instead?

My dog can chew a rawhide bone down to a nub in a matter of a few hours. We're crate training her, so she spends a lot of time in her crate with her toys. We've given her a variety of different chew toys... she's had nylabones, vinyl toys, kongs, etc. Here's what happens: when the kongs have food in them, she takes care of the food within an hour or so and loses interest. Freezing the food helps a little but not much. The rubber and plastic toys she can destroy, she's interested in and destroys. A regular strenght Nylabone were beloved, but she destroyed it in a couple hours, so we took it away lest she eat too much plastic. The toys she can't destroy, even flavored, she's uninterested in unless I'm actively playing with her (throwing a ball, moving a rubber bone around and letting her jump for it).

I'm worried she's ingesting too much rawhide, and I know I'm spending too much on bones, so I'm looking for other options. Are there rubber toys she might actually care about? Are soup bones messy/stinky in my smallish carpeted apartment with no air circulation?

Basically: is there anything that is both durable and compelling to pups?
posted by YoungAmerican to Pets & Animals (29 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
We have some filled bones like these for our little monsters. It takes them a while to work out all the good stuff, esp. if we get the ones that are 7-8" long. Once they do, we fill them up with canned dog food and freeze them. Keeps them busy for a couple hours, at least.
posted by ferociouskitty at 9:14 AM on January 7, 2008

Dog popsicles. Seriously.

Take a hollow bone. One of these, only empty. Start filling it with canned dog food. Smash some kibble or treats into the wet food. Pack it as densely as you possibly can. Stick it in the freezer and forget about it for a day. Then give it to her. She'll be occupied for a while. Also, this is great for teething dogs.

While I'd never feed my dogs Science Diet kibble, their canned food is the perfect consistency for making these. Don't use Iams, it's too watery.
posted by pieoverdone at 9:14 AM on January 7, 2008

Response by poster: We've been making dog popsicles for her, but she can only eat about two a day before she's about done with how much food she's supposed to eat (she's only 14 lbs). She takes care of them in an hour, tops.
posted by YoungAmerican at 9:21 AM on January 7, 2008

Bully sticks, bullwrinkles, or any of the other brand-names/euphemisms for:

Stretched, smoked bull's penis.

Dogs love them with an unholy passion and they can last a while.

They smell like a smoked ham that's been soaked in piss. But the smell passes reasonably quickly after they're done.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:45 AM on January 7, 2008

I would cut the rawhide out of her diet completely. I don't trust my fox terrier with it... I know she doesn't chew thirty two times before swallowing and rawhide just seems like too much of a choking hazard. My pup also manages to destroy most toys in less than a day, but we have a braided rope for her that's still intact a year later (despite hours of daily chewing).
posted by dehowell at 9:46 AM on January 7, 2008

What about these Merrick bones? In fact, click around the site--they have lots of other weird chewable stuff that might work for your dog. After the melamine dog food scare I went looking for non-Chinese chew treats for my dog and found this company. Everything is made in America and they have all kinds of treats that I find revolting but my dog adores (hooves, ears, tendons, etc.).
posted by Enroute at 9:47 AM on January 7, 2008

I'm not a pet owner, but wouldn't something like nylabones be a stronger substitute for rawhide? They're basically pressed rawhide bones, and reportedly safer too.
posted by samsara at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2008

What a bout a bigger nylabone? You dog is not /supposed/ to really be able to destroy one of those.
posted by bigmusic at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2008

You can try the Nylabone Dinobone. It is a big and heavy for tough chewers. It is made of Nylon and not vinyl or rubber. It will last a long time even for aggressive chewers.
posted by shr1n1 at 10:01 AM on January 7, 2008

How about real bones? If you read up on raw and whole food diets for pets you will find that many consider bones as part of a dogs diet to be essential. Raw large joint bones, ( soup bones), are considered safe by most folks that are concerned with choking due to chewing bones and they are much safer then raw hide chews. If you are worried about the germ issue with raw bones dunk them in boiling water for a few minutes. Many raw hide chews are made overseas with little or no oversight as to processing, ingredients or additives, ( preservatives etc), this is why many people steer clear of them and recommend " bully sticks", bull penises, processed here in the USA, bully sticks seem to go just as fast as raw hide tho. If you have a butcher shop near by you should be able to pick the type and size, ( they can cut them smaller), of bones you give your dog.
posted by flummox at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2008

I know this doesn't really address your specific question, but have you tried giving her a really, really good workout -- like a very long walk/jog or an intense session of playtime -- before you crate her? I wonder if part of the problem is that she has so much pent up puppy energy that all she can do is channel it into chewing.
posted by kitty teeth at 10:09 AM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

We use bully sticks for these, but the markup in pet stores is extraordinary. Online and in bulk you can get the price down to close to $1/stick; in stores it's $4 each or more.

I bought the 100 pack from bullysticksonline.com and it lasted for months. I try giving them to my dog no more frequently than every other day, and only when she seems to need something to do.
posted by nev at 10:22 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Rawhides gave my dog room-clearing gas, now he gets bully sticks instead. Rou_Xenophobe is right: my dog would do *anything* for a bully stick, and it lasts him a good long while, but then at age seven he's not as enthusiastic a chewer as he used to be.
posted by ambrosia at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2008

Stretched, smoked bull's penis.

I had no idea what those were. Wow. But my dog does love 'em.

And I am going to wear a cup to bed from now on.
posted by GuyZero at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2008

Some of the local pet stores here carry reindeer antler pieces. They are rather pricey but if you find one the right size and density it will last much much longer than any rawhide or nylabone. The first one I bought cost $9 and was devoured in less than two hours. It was about as big around as my pinkie finger and looked to be the tip of an antler. Then I bought a bigger one (about twice the diameter of my thumb) for close to $20 that has lasted for going on 5 months now. It is so tough my dog only chews on it for a short amount of time every day or two. I'm confident that once I buy a medium sized one it will be her favorite chew thing for many days but not be so tough she gets discouraged. I've never tried bully sticks so I can't compare them to those.
posted by J-Garr at 10:41 AM on January 7, 2008

I worry that rawhide causes choking and intestinal blocking hazards. break a small peice off and soak it in water watch it swell. I managed a boarding kennel for some time and we made it a practice to not allow them in with boarders for this reason. Stick with real bones (a bit of peanut butter on the inside makes for a real treat) and cow hooves. My two are obsessive about the cow hooves (though they kinda get stinky and hurt like the dickens if you step on it with bare feet).
posted by meeshell at 10:53 AM on January 7, 2008

What about these that you can connect for a doggie puzzle? Fill them with some sort of treat she really likes and let her figure out the puzzle - and you can make different configurations to make it harder for her.

I have a Patterdale, and I have one of these on order for her. She's smart, like yours probably is, so I tried looking for toys for "smart dogs" and I've had some success with that.

Mine likes to destroy things that squeak, and she can "kill" a regular stuffed animal and extract the squeaker in under 2 minutes. This octopus has been unkillable, but of course she doesn't like it because she can't kill it.
posted by KAS at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2008

Oh, and my dad has always told me to only allow the dogs to have real bones with supervision, in case a splinter breaks off and injures the dog. He's not a vet, he's just speaking from experience.
posted by KAS at 10:58 AM on January 7, 2008

My two are obsessive about the cow hooves (though they kinda get stinky

This is a gross understatement. Cow hoof smell could replace waterboarding as torture.
posted by pieoverdone at 11:00 AM on January 7, 2008

Bones and rawhides can also cause intestinal blockage if the dog is biting and swallowing large pieces without chewing. I'd always carefully supervised my dog with chews, and he still managed to get some bone stuck in his tummy that needed to be surgically removed (see story, pix & xrays). I've been trying to do some research on pet chew safety, following this, but not found much in the way of statistics. Lyle now only gets very large bones that he can't break pieces off of, and bully sticks.
posted by judith at 11:06 AM on January 7, 2008

I've now got 3 dogs, and one of them is the most unholy chewer I've ever seen. She is the reason that toy makers no longer write "indestructible" on toys. She's only a 65lb golden retriever, but man can she do some damage.

The only chewie I've found thus far that she really hasn't been able to destroy is the Nylabone "Ham Bone". I think it's because the thickness is really wrong for maximum bite pressure.

It's also got some sort of flavoring, but it doesn't smell or anything.

For rawhide, get pressed chews. They're WAY more expensive, but way harder, last longer, and are less likely to break off and get swallowed.

My golden has destroyed: kongs, fire hoses, the superhard nylabones, tennis balls (seriously, 30 seconds and they're in pieces), basketballs (don't ask me how), playground balls, beef knuckles, "intelligent" toys--the ones they have to work for a treat...you name it. Usually within 5 minutes or less.
posted by TomMelee at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2008

Response by poster: I should have mentioned that bully sticks are gone almost immediately. Like an hour, tops.
posted by YoungAmerican at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2008

I'd agree with the real bone suggestion. Go to a butcher or ask at the meat department where you shop. I bought my dog a huge cow femur once and it last for weeks. He loved it too.
posted by sero_venientibus_ossa at 11:30 AM on January 7, 2008

Nthing the real-bone suggestions.

Cautionary note - my coyote used to chew through rawhide like it was paper. Suddenly, she started making these random yelps - vet said she was having stomach distress. For a couple days she passed rawhide - if you know what I mean. It was quite horrible and she was obviously in a lot of pain. I can't imagine crapping rawhide.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:41 AM on January 7, 2008

The real bone suggestions are well meaning but misguided. The bones given in a "prey model" or "raw" diet are *NOT* recreational. They are to be eaten with the meat as 10% of the diet, not chewed on for hours and hours. Of particular caution, in fact, in the prey model diet are bovine bones, particularly leg bones. These bones are very very dense, which makes sense because cows are very large heavy animals and need dense bones to support that weight. Giving your dog a raw cow leg bone will most likely result in a cracked tooth and a vet bill for an extraction. Others may chime in that that hasn't been their experience (yet anyway!) but I wouldn't tempt fate, honestly.

I am absolutely useless, however, with alternative suggestions for your dog. The thought of giving my dogs rawhide at all makes me cringe, as does the thought of giving them greenies or nylabones. One of mine was a nightmare chewer as a puppy (remotes, shoes, bras, leashes, etc) but the nightmare has lessened somewhat and it sounds like a different scenario than yours. Good luck, though!
posted by hecho de la basura at 12:00 PM on January 7, 2008

The nylabone galileo is great - my dogs chew like yours does and this holds up great. the dinosaurs were also pretty strong, but they are thinner than the galileo so didn't stand up as long.
posted by ellebee at 12:31 PM on January 7, 2008

Cow hooves are the only thing that works at all for my power chewer. He could go through big pressed rawhides or huge real bones in under 30 minutes. I feared for his digestion for sure! It's true they are disgusting (we refer to them as "Nasty Hooves") but they last and they are cheap ($1 apiece). We get them from a big bin at the pet store so we can pick out the very thickest nastiest ones.
posted by FuzzyVerde at 3:23 PM on January 7, 2008

We're trying to back our golden off her one-a-day rawhide-chip diet... best substitute to-date is a Kong with peanut butter (about a tablespoon) jammed inside it.
posted by deCadmus at 8:52 PM on January 7, 2008

My dog, a voracious chewer with fearsome jaws, has nylabones he's been working on for several years.
posted by tangerine at 11:05 PM on January 7, 2008

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