Ask the Vet Dentist: What Things are Bad for My Dog to Chew On?

All of us who are doting pet parents love to buy new chew toys or treats for our dogs. We wander up and down the aisle of our favorite pet store or browse online for fun new toys we know will get tails wagging. But are there dangers lurking in among all of those items aimed at offering hours of chewing entertainment for our dogs.

So, we asked board certified veterinary dentists to weigh in and provide their opinions about what items are not recommended for dogs to chew based on the problems they’ve seen in their pet patients.

Dog’s teeth can break?

Dog’s teeth are just as susceptible to breaking as a human’s teeth. In fact, broken teeth from chewing on a damaging object is one of the more common injuries treated in a veterinary dental practice. Why you might ask? Dr. Allen Matson at Eastside Veterinary Dental Specialists in Washington will tell you, “If you ask your dentist, they will tell you not to chew on ice cubes, jaw breakers, popcorn kernels. The reason? With a hard object, biting down can’t break the object, but the teeth can break.” This same rule applies to pets.

“I tell clients to not give their pet anything to chew on that they can’t bend or break, or that splinters,” says Dr. Patrick Vall at Animal Dental Care & Oral Surgery in Colorado. A couple of other rules Dr. Vall says are good to go by, “Don’t give them anything you could pound a nail with, or that you wouldn’t want thrown at your knee caps.”

Dr. Mike Peak at Tampa Bay Veterinary Dentistry indicates the items he sees break dog’s teeth most frequently include, “Rocks, ice, real bones, hard plastic bones, cow hooves and deer antlers. As a rule of thumb, anything that is harder than what you would want to chew on is too hard for pets.”

What, no bones for my dog?

But everyone knows a dog loves a bone! The truth is that while your dog may spend hours chewing a bone, you could very well end up spending far more in dental costs. Dr. Curt Coffman at Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists sees this damage regularly and when asked about the worst things to let your pet chew on he says, “Real bones. Whether steak bones or marrow bones, they are too hard and can break or crack the tooth, crowns and cusp exposing the pulp and leading to pain and infection.”

Broken teeth are painful for your pet.

Whether bones or other hard items, it is important to keep your pet’s dental health in mind. Broken pet teeth are an injury that causes a great deal of pain for your pet. Dr. Dale Kressin at Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery Specialists in Wisconsin makes this demonstration a part of his client education. “At our office we have a bag of items that have broken pet teeth. We show these to clients as items we strongly recommend avoiding pets chewing because these break pet teeth.  Broken teeth are painful.  In our view, it is a shame to have pets unnecessarily endure pain when these injuries can be avoided altogether.

Items from Dr. Kressin’s bag of items that have broken pet teeth.

So what can my pet safely chew?

Don’t worry, there are still plenty of toys that are safe for chewing. Choose items that are soft and bendable, while still durable. Many of these toys provide the same amount of entertainment and some even have spots for reward treats!

Its important to choose toys that are safe for your pet to chew.