Updated: May 3
From meaty munchies down to chewy chews – how do you pick the right chew for your playful puppy, and which treats should you stay away from?
Oh, the joys of bringing home that bundle of fluff. Puppy breath, "smol feets" and nose boops. Quite frankly, there is nothing better than that puppy-induced excitement!
One of the things we overlook, amongst the toy and bed and food buying in preparation for the next 12 months of puppyhood, is healthy chewy treats.
There are tons on the market – so how do you know what’s right for your puppy?
One thing we have become well-versed in over the years, is what to recommend and what to avoid.
For young pups, you don’t want anything too fatty – like sinews – straight off the bat. Those can quickly cause an upset tummy and no one likes a poopy and pukey dog! Opt for chews made from meat cuts instead – these are usually leaner.
Dried chicken and beef (without excessive fat) is always a winner.
Chicken is a great, lighter, and leaner option for your pup to chomp down on – which means that there are less risks of upset tummies.
Beef and Ostrich, in a dried form, is nice and tough. This is ideal for those pesky teething stages (that seem to last forever) when your pup wants to CHEW. EVERYTHING. IN. SIGHT.
Dried sweet potato and butternut also make nice and tasty chews. And heck, even offer a range of vitamins/minerals to boot.
Another favourite in our house is dried lungs. Yep, they stink us right out of the room, but for those tiny 12 week old mouths and teeth, these are great! Not too hard, softening as they chew. These you can buy in chunks or strips, as well as bite sized bits.
Once your puppy is a bit older and can handle a bit more fat and oils, you can look at snacks like dried fish (tuna, sardines and readily available, ethically sourced fish) or more intricate options like ox hooves stuffed with yummy things (liver biltong and sugar/xylitol free peanut butter, or blueberries and plain yoghurt) for some extra enrichment.
One thing to always remember is that puppies can guzzle treats and take really large bites. Always be sure to supervise them during chew time and make sure to pick up and discard any broken bits that may have come loose or fallen off. This is to prevent them from swallowing it and potentially causing a blockage.
Never leave your pup with a chewy unsupervised!
Treats to avoid.
Oh, the list! But the biggest, largest, red flag of them all: RAWHIDE.
What is rawhide?
Rawhide is those neatly formed white (or red, green and yellow) hard bone or twist shaped ‘things’ labelled as Pet Accessories.
Rawhide is a byproduct of the leather industry. Hide is treated with chemicals to destroy any bacteria that may be retained once it is processed for leather. These chemicals are also used to split the skin from the fat. It is then also bleached as part of the process and cut to shape for further dying and altering. The offcuts are sold and turned into these rawhide products.
These are then either dyed, and processed a bit more to form pet products. They bind rawhide with glue and brush it with a flavouring or scent.
Rawhide, when chewed on, doesn’t really break down much at all. Yes, a bit comes off here and there, but it turns to one giant mushy thing with a bunch of teeth marks in it. Pretty gross, right?
At this point, I hope that they make their way to the bin – but I would rather say avoid them. Just because all those chemicals find their way into your pets’ system and can cause a huge amount of illness over time.
I totally get that they “last forever” but they are meant to – they aren’t a chew/food safe product. Rather spend a bit more money on dried beef or chicken or ostrich chews or make your own! Nothing a Mellerware Biltong maker and some goulash from your local butcher can’t fix!
Outward Hound addressed some of the other concerns relating to rawhide, in their recent post. Click here to read.
Other really gnarly treats include anything with a high amount of salt or colourants and chemical preservatives.
Highly processed chews that have a list longer than most grocery lists are also not ideal.
Those red coloured, beef flavoured sticks that look soft but are processed? Those are not your friends in large volumes.
So what are we saying?
Best tip of advice going forward: less is more!
Opt for single source chews or chews with ingredient names you can actually understand.
Natural, one source protein chews mostly contain an ingredient list with two or three ingredients like “Beef/Chicken/whichever protein, vinegar” and these are healthy and safer than most other options on the market.
Chewing is an important part of puppyhood and for your adult dogs. It is relaxing and enriching – so they NEED to do it. I think making sure that you use chew-safe products is top priority!
While all of these chews state that they aid in dental health - making sure you pick the right chew that is healthy, offers great benefits other than the chewing process and is safe for your pooch, should be your foundation for the decision when shopping.
Some of our favourites are:
Obviously, our own range of ever-expanding chews and treats to shop online – https://www.clawsnpaws.co.za/shop
YAP! Naturals fish range – https://www.yapnaturals.com
Pets Elite and Healthy Pet Accessories range of meat chews stocked at most pet and vet retailers. Our favourites here at home are the beef range of twists and Jerky Flats and the chicken biltong options. Pet's Elite also has a great range of dehydrated chicken necks - these go down well with all of our HQ doggos.
Tell us, what are your pet's favourite chews?