Dog chews are a staple for any household with dogs. They encourage healthy chewing habits and keep your dog occupied. From dental chews, to cow ears, to bully sticks, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite healthy chews for dogs of all sizes.
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why do dogs chew?
There are a variety of reasons that dogs chew. First of all, they have a natural instinct to chew which leads to fresh breath, and better all around oral health. New puppies (much like babies) are going to constantly chew to aid in the teething process. Dogs also chew when they’re anxious, playing, and looking for food. Dog chews are not only good for your pup’s physical health, they’re great for the mental health as well.
All dogs have a natural instinct to chew. For the safety of your furniture and your shoes, they should have healthy chews made just for them. There are plenty of benefits associated with the regular use of chews. The obvious one is for dental health. Chews help to remove plaque buildup on your pups’ teeth and keeps their gums healthy. They last much longer than typical toys and therefore have longer-lasting effects on your dog’s mouth.
Chews are also great for your dog’s mental health. They help with boredom, depression, stress, anxiety, and can prevent them from chewing on things that aren’t safe. There are a variety of chews you can buy for your pup, and we’re here to help you find the right fit for your pup and their unique needs.
Dental treats are great for dogs at nearly any stage of life. Just like any chew, they help to eliminate plaque and tartar buildup. However, dental chews also work to freshen breath and some even sooth the gums as they chew. If you can find dental chews with healthy ingredients, they’re a great way to keep your pup’s mouth healthy and odorless. Some dental chews are made from vegetables rather than animal byproducts, which are much safer than those made from chemicals and animal byproducts.
Whimzees Dental Chews
Whimzees are great because they’re vegetable based; you don’t have to worry about only feeding them to your pup in moderation. All Whimzees are made in unique shapes allowing them to fight off plaque buildup throughout the duration of use. They also tend to last longer than other dental chews such as Greenies, which allows them to fight off plaque better and keep your dog’s mouth fresh longer.
Unlike the typical dog chew, Whimzees are made from a small list of healthy ingredients; potato starch, glycerin, cellulose, lecithin, malt extract, and yeast. The ingredients are all natural, easy to digest, and safe for just about any pup. They even contain calcium carbonate, which can help prevent tooth decay. Because they’re made from vegetable products and no animal byproducts, they’re also high in fiber and low in calories. If you’re looking for a natural way to clean your pup’s teeth, they’re definitely worth a try! If your dog is anything like our pup testers, they’ll also love the taste! To learn more, head over to Whimzees Dental Chews – An In-Depth Look.
- Low Calorie
- Great for Dental Health
- Freshen Breath
- Highly Digestible
Antler Chews are another great way to protect your dog’s mouth. Unlike dental chews, they’re hard and will likely last much longer than dental treats. They’re also completely natural; naturally shed from animals without causing the animal any harm. Antlers also contain natural minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, iron, and magnesium. They’re also one of the few chews that low in fat and high in protein without any added colors or preservatives. They easily cut away at tartar and plaque and protect your pup’s mouth from future buildup.
There are, however, several cons to consider before purchasing an antler chew. The first of these is the hardness. If your pup doesn’t have a strong bite, there is a possibility that they could chip a tooth considering how tough they are. There is also a small risk of splintering, which can create sharp edges that could become a safety hazard for your pup. To be on the safe side, we suggest keeping an eye on your pup to look out for splintering.
Best Bully Sticks Deer and Elk Antlers
If you’d like to try out an antler chew we suggest one made by Best Bully Sticks. You can find both deer and elk antler chews in various sizes right on Amazon. You’ll also be happy to hear that both USDA and FDA approved, and made right here in the USA from deer and elk in the USA. However, you do need to be cautious as you’re choosing a size, they’re a bit smaller than what is pictured, and the smaller sizes are sanded down pretty narrowly. The small size is almost sanded to a complete point, so you may want to avoid that size altogether. All in all, it’s a great product for dogs who need a long lasting chew.
- Contains natural minerals
- High in protein
- Great for dental health
- FDA & USDA approved
Premium Pick - Jim Hodges Elk Antler
For a really special treat, we recommend the Jim Hodges Elk Antler dog chew. It is completely naturally shed in good ol’ mother nature, then hand picked for your dog’s enjoyment. The Jim Hodges Elk Antler dog chew comes in a variety of options for you to choose from. These include both whole antlers and halved antlers. To read our full review, head to Jim Hodges Elk Antler for Dogs.
With great quality comes a premium price. These elk antlers will be a great choice to spoil your furbaby every once in awhile. Think about birthdays or a Holiday gift, instead of a regular purchase.
- Authentic, naturally shed elk antler
- Great natural minerals
- Whole or half options
- Premium treat
Himalayan chews are only made from 4 all-natural ingredients; yak milk, cow milk, lime juice, and salt. Fortunately, this means that they’re very high in protein and easier to digest than most chews. You can typically expect them to last several hours if your dog is continuously chewing on it. Unfortunately, however, there is a lot of variation between brands with regards to size and durability. Some chews are much harder than others and may weigh more leading to a longer chewing experience for your dog.
It’s also important to note that Himalayan chews are typically high in calorie (around 400 calories per stick).
When the chew becomes too small for your pup to safely chew on, you can throw the small pieces in the microwave for about 45 seconds. They will bubble up and become crunchy and puffy. They’ll also become large enough for your dog to chew on without creating a choking hazard.
Himalayan Dog Chew
The Himalayan Dog Chew brand sells a variety of Himalayan chews, making it easy to find one to suit your dog’s specific needs. They’re available from sizes small all the way up to extra large. The small bag contains 3 chews weighing 3.5 ounces altogether, and approximately 7 inches long, these are great for smaller breeds under 15 lbs such as chihuahuas. The medium contains one 2.5 ounce piece that is almost 6 inches long; the medium is ideal for medium sized breeds 15-35 lbs. The larger bag contains one 3.5 ounce piece made for dogs up to 55lbs, and the extra large contains one 6 ounce piece ideal for any dog larger than 55lbs.
In general, Himalayan chews tend to be more expensive than other types of chews, this brand is no exception. Your dog will most likely love the taste and texture, as it is chewy, natural, and slowly melts as they chew on it. However, for most dog parents, the price doesn’t justify purchasing these for more than special occasions.
- Long Lasting
- Only 4 Ingredients
- Easy to Digest
Pig ears are generally great for picky eaters because of their great flavor. They also have a unique crunchy taste that makes them a favorite among most dogs. The crunchiness will help clean your dog’s teeth by removing plaque and tartar buildup as well. Because they’re an all-natural treat, they don’t contain any artificial preservatives or chemicals that could hurt your dog’s stomach. They’re highly digestible and because they don’t contain any bone, they won’t splinter or crumble when your dog chews on them.
There are several cons to consider before purchasing pig ears. Some dogs are sensitive to the ears and may get stomach pain if they ingest too much at one time. If you only feed them to your dog in small amounts every once in awhile, you’ll have a significantly smaller chance of running into stomach sensitivity issues.
Pig ears are also naturally high in fat, if you start feeding them to your pooch in excess, it could lead to weight gain and other health issues. However, pig ears tend to last a long time and are great as the occasional treat. If you let your dog chew on the ears over a carpet, they could ultimately stain it, we suggest using these on easily cleanable surfaces or even outside (especially considering their strong smell).
Brutus & Barnaby Pig Ear Slivers
You can purchase a 1 lb. bag of pig ear slivers made by Brutus & Barnaby from Amazon for a reasonable price considering how long they last. These pig ears aren’t chemically treated and are made for both small and larger sized breeds. They also come in a convenient resealable bag, making it easy to get rid of the smell while you store them away. Unlike whole pig ears, they’re also small enough for small breeds and puppies to chew on, yet not too small to become a choking hazard for larger dogs. If you want to give pig ears a try, this is a great brand to start with.
- Great flavor
- Great for teeth
- Highly digestible
Cow ears are another natural chew that dogs love. Just like pig ears, they’re made without preservatives or chemicals and are easy to digest for most dogs. Unlike pig ears, they’re low in fat, usually only containing about 2% fat. Just like any other chew, their crunchy texture and hardness make them great for dental hygiene. They gently scrape off built-up tartar and plaque, while simultaneously keeping your dog occupied with a healthy treat. They’re also a great alternative to typical chew treats because they’re very low calorie, with a taste dogs love. You can even buy low calorie flavored cow ears if you have a really picky pup.
Best Bully Sticks Cow Ears
Best Bully Sticks makes high-quality cow ears (and don’t charge an arm and a leg). The cows used for their packages are grass-fed and free-range Brazilian cattle. Plus, they don’t use any chemicals in the preservation process. Our pick is a 12-ounce package of 12 cow ears, that are 72% protein and only 2% fat. Unfortunately, just like the pig ears, cow ears also have a less than ideal smell, which can be minimized with the resealable bag. The cow ears made by Best Bully Sticks are also typically thicker and tougher than typical cow ears, which is something to consider, especially if you have a smaller dog.
- High protein
- Low Fat content
- Low Calorie
- Easy to digest
- Free of Preservatives & Chemicals
Cow hooves are one of the longest lasting chews you can buy (lasting weeks or even months). Cow hooves are also all-natural, made with no artificial chemicals, preservatives, or ingredients. They’re simply cleaned and then roasted to ensure safety and durability for your dog. Hooves are a great alternative to typical chews because they don’t have a messy residue, they won’t stain your carpets, and they last incredibly long.
However, there are several cons to consider before purchasing. If your dog bites too hard on the hoof, they could potentially crack your dog’s teeth, and their sharp edges could be hazardous for your dog (or your feet, ouch!).
You can fill the inside of the hooves with any of your dog’s favorite treats (such as peanut butter) to prolong play!
Pawstruck Cow Hooves
Pawstruck is a great USA brand that we’ve grown to love. Their hooves are FDA and USDA approved and made right here in the U.S. They also have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee for all of their products. These hooves have a great value, you can order anywhere from 5 to 100 hooves at an incredibly reasonable price considering how long hooves last for most dogs. They even offer a 5 pack of hooves already filled with peanut butter. We also appreciate that they hand trim each hoof to ensure you’re not receiving any hooves with unwanted sharp edges. They also thoroughly clean each hoof to keep your pup healthy during their long chewing sessions.
Pawstruck also roasts their hooves after cleaning, allowing for maximum taste and texture! If you want to give hooves a try, these are about as high quality as it gets, and at a great value. The only downside is that they can develop a strong smell after your dog chews on it for awhile.
- Very Long Lasting
- Won’t Stain Carpets
- Can be filled with peanut butter
- Made in the USA
Some raw bones can be a great dental treat for your pup. They’re all-natural, free from unwanted preservatives, and great for your dog’s teeth. Unlike artificial bones, they won’t splinter when your dog chews on them. However, if you feed your pup cooked bones, they could easily splinter and contain unwanted bacteria.
Dogs that like to recreationally chew will get a great amount of use out of raw bones, they usually last a long time and work to remove plaque from their teeth easily. They also contain a great deal of calcium and omega 3 fats. However, if your dog has a tendency to try to swallow their chews whole, raw bones are not the answer. Easily digestible dental chews are a much better alternative.
If you do decide to purchase a raw bone, keep in mind that they can become a bit of a mess when your pup begins chewing on them, we suggest only giving them to your pup on easy to clean surfaces.
Best Bully Sticks Smoked Shin Bones
We have found that Best Bully Sticks produces great raw bones. You can purchase a 3-pack of their jumbo bones from Amazon at a great price considering their high quality. They’re made from free-range, grass-fed beef, and are slow cooked to produce a great taste for your pup. They’re also a great natural source of calcium for your pup. The jumbo bones are great for large dogs that are aggressive chewers. They’re about 3″ wide and 8-10″ long. They contain a lot of calcium to keep your dog strong and are 13% protein. Dogs absolutely love these bones because of their strong taste, and you’ll appreciate their all-natural makeup.
- Made from free-range, grass-fed beef
- Natural source of calcium
- Strong Taste
- Contains omega 3 fats
- Contains Calcium
- Easy to digest
Bully sticks are a great alternative to highly processed chews because they’re single-ingredient and highly digestible. Made from beef pizzle, they’re hard enough to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth, but typically not hard enough to crack a tooth. They also have a very long shelf life of several years (if you can make them last that long). Not only are they delicious for your dog, they’re full of amino acids, high in protein, and typically great for dogs with food allergies.
We love bully sticks because they’re a great chew for nearly any dog. Even puppies can have them, as long as they’re able to eat solid food by themselves. The only thing to be cautious about is quantity; because of their high protein content, feeding your dog more than one a day can lead to stomach upset or diarrhea.
Put your bully sticks in the freezer during hot weather to make a delicious cool treat for your pup; this will also prolong the shelf life of the treats.
Best Bully Sticks Supreme Bully Sticks
Best bully sticks are an extremely reputable brand in the dog world. If you decide to purchase bully sticks for your pooch, we highly recommend trying out Best Bully Sticks. Their bully sticks are made from free-range, grass-fed beef and are 100% digestible. You can purchase packs of 25 sticks that are either 6″ or 12″ long from Amazon for under $40. Considering their long shelf-life and protein content, this is a great deal. Becuase they’re all-natural beef pizzle, you will notice that they have an odor (that your pup will love). The only issue with these bully sticks is that the packages are somewhat inconsistent, different packages may have thicker (or thinner) bully sticks.
- Single Ingredient Chew
- Great for dental health
- Made from free-range, grass-fed beef
- High Protein content
As most pup parents know, raw hides are widely controversial in the dog chew world. Made from the hide of cow or horses, they can contain chemicals and other unwanted preservatives. While they do have some positive aspects, they don’t outweigh the cons in our opinion. Like most chews, rawhides help to remove tartar and plaque from your dog’s teeth; they also prevent them from chewing up household items. Unfortunately, raw hides can expand in your dog’s stomach causing painful blockages in their intestines leading to both immediate and long-term gastrointestinal issues.
Some rawhides are also made from toxic chemicals. When made, a chemical is used to remove the cow’s skin from the hide, and this can be left on the rawhides made for pups. Himalayan dog chews are a great alternative to rawhides because of their chewiness and great taste for picky dogs.