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10 Chews and Treats to Keep Your Dog Busy and Calm

I believe pets are among God's greatest gifts to us. They offer not just companionship but also unconditional love.

There are many long-lasting chews and treats you can give your dog.

There are many long-lasting chews and treats you can give your dog.

Chewing and Licking Keeps Dogs Busy and Calm

There are many long-lasting chews and treats you can give your dog to chew on or lick to keep him busy. This can be helpful if you have a high-energy, anxious or nervous canine and are looking for ways to calm him or keep him occupied.

I have a very high-energy dog and can't always give him the attention he wants. When my dog is busy licking or chewing on a long-lasting edible, I can focus on projects I need to do without distractions. My dog is happy and I'm happy!

In addition to keeping them busy, chewing and licking helps dogs calm down. In fact, it's been scientifically proven that licking and chewing releases endorphins and neurotransmitters in dogs' brains, which work together to decrease canines' stress and anxiety.

Win-win!

Which Chews and Treats Are Safe For Dogs?

It's important to me that the chews and treats I give my dog are safe for him. Just as I like to know the ingredients that go into my food, I want to know the same for my furry friend.

In this article I've compiled a list of chews and treats I feel comfortable giving my dog based on extensive research and my own experience.

At the bottom of the article I listed some additional canine products that are popular but more controversial in terms of how safe they are for dogs. Decide for yourself if you want to give them to your pup.

As a basic precaution, it's always a good idea to keep your furry friend within eyesight as he chews on anything you give him.

Giving your dog safe things to chew on keeps him busy and keeps him from getting bored.

Giving your dog safe things to chew on keeps him busy and keeps him from getting bored.

10 Chews and Treats to Keep Your Dog Busy

  1. Himalayan chews
  2. Bully sticks
  3. Collagen chews
  4. Tremenda chews
  5. Other alternatives to rawhide
  6. Nylabone durable chews
  7. Frozen hollow bones stuffed with food
  8. Kong toys
  9. Dehydrated vegetables and fruit
  10. Real bones
Himalayan chews are made with cheese from cow and yak milk. This bag contains 3 chews made of pure cheese, with no additives.

Himalayan chews are made with cheese from cow and yak milk. This bag contains 3 chews made of pure cheese, with no additives.

1. Himalayan Chews

Himalayan chews are made of hard cheese from cow and yak milk. Although milk is difficult for dogs to digest in its raw form, once it becomes cheese, it's easy for them to digest. Some Himalayan chews are made of 100% cow or yak milk (or a mix of both), while others also contain additional ingredients like lime juice and salt. Check the ingredients list on the package to be sure.

Ingredients:

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Cow milk, yak milk, may contain additives

Pros:

  • Made of natural ingredients
  • High protein, low fat content
  • Easily digested by most dogs
  • Help keep canines' teeth clean
  • Long lasting
  • Ideal for power chewers

Cons:

  • Can cause gastrointestinal issues in some dogs
  • May break your canine's teeth if he's a very hard chewer or if he's an older dog with sensitive teeth

These chews come in different sizes and can be purchased individually or in bulk.

Braided bully sticks are the longest lasting ones.

Braided bully sticks are the longest lasting ones.

Most dogs love bully sticks!

Most dogs love bully sticks!

2. Bully Sticks

Bully sticks, also known as pizzle sticks, are made of bull penises. It may sound gross, but most dogs love bully sticks and will chew on them for hours. Because each bully stick is made from a single ingredient, they're ideal for canines with delicate digestive systems.

Ingredients:

Bull penis

Pros:

  • Made of a single ingredient, so they're easy on the digestive system
  • Long-lasting even for hard chewers
  • Most dogs love them!
  • They don't fracture, so there's no risk of splinters
  • More gentle on teeth than other chews
  • Promote dental health
  • They're made in a wide range of shapes and sizes (stick, ring-shaped, braided, etc.)

Cons:

  • Unknown
Collagen chews look a lot like bully sticks and come in the same shapes and sizes.

Collagen chews look a lot like bully sticks and come in the same shapes and sizes.

3. Collagen Chews

Collagen chews look like bully sticks and are made in the same shapes and sizes as bully sticks: stick, braided, ring-shaped, etc.

They're made of beef corium, which is the inner layer of cow skin closest to the muscle. Corium contains a lot of collagenwhich helps keep dogs' bones, joints, gut, skin and coat healthy. Because collagen levels in dogs diminish as they age, collagen chews are especially beneficial for older dogs.

Ingredients:

Beef corium

Pros:

  • Made of a single ingredient, so they're easy on the digestive system
  • Help with mobility and flexibility
  • Help keep gut, skin and coat healthy
  • Long lasting
  • Promote dental health
  • Sold in a wide range of shapes and sizes

Cons:

  • Unknown
Some chews are part pizzle and part collagen.

Some chews are part pizzle and part collagen.

4. Tremenda Chews

Tremenda chews also look a lot like bully sticks. They're made of beef bladder and are slightly softer than bully sticks. This makes them a good choice for older dogs or for dogs with sensitive teeth. Because they're softer, they're not as long-lasting as bully sticks, and may work best for puppies and small breeds. Dogs are drawn to their odor and flavor and, like bully sticks, they come in different shapes and sizes.

Ingredients:

Beef bladder

Pros:

  • Made of a single ingredient, so they're easy to digest
  • Well-liked by most canines
  • No risk of splintering
  • Gentle on dogs' teeth
  • Help clean teeth

Cons:

  • Not as long-lasting as other chews
  • Many pet stores don't sell them, so you may have to order them online.
My pup loves veggie "rawhide", especially the sweet potato ones, but they're not very long lasting for hard chewers.

My pup loves veggie "rawhide", especially the sweet potato ones, but they're not very long lasting for hard chewers.

These are my pup's favorite alternative rawhide chews! They come in several different flavors and sizes and are very long-lasting. My dog likes the beef and chicken ones.

These are my pup's favorite alternative rawhide chews! They come in several different flavors and sizes and are very long-lasting. My dog likes the beef and chicken ones.

5. Other Alternatives to Rawhide

Apart from Himalayan chews, bully sticks, collagen chews, and tremenda chews, there are plenty of other alternatives to rawhide that will keep your dog busy for a long time! They're usually labeled "Rawhide Alternative," "No Rawhide," "No Hide," or something along those lines.

You're sure to find a whole section of them in most pet stores. My dog's favorite are the Earth Animal No-Hide chews. It takes him several hours to get through one of these, so I like to keep a few in my doggy cupboard at all times. I posted a photo of them above.

Ingredients:

Varies according to the specific chew and manufacturer

Pros:

  • Wide range of options available
  • Many are long-lasting, even for power chewers
  • Some may be more gentle on teeth than other chews
  • Promote dental health
  • Available in a wide range of flavors, shapes and sizes to suit your dog's preferences

Cons:

  • May contain harmful additives
This non-edible Nylabone chew is made of nylon. I scrape peanut butter and yogurt on it and freeze it for my dog to lick.

This non-edible Nylabone chew is made of nylon. I scrape peanut butter and yogurt on it and freeze it for my dog to lick.

6. Nylabone Durable Chews

On the Nylabone website appears this quote: "I'll spare your shoe if you give me a Nylabone chew!" Indeed, Nylabone chews, edible and non-edible alike, are known for being long-lasting. The brand carries a wide range of products worth checking out.

Ingredients in non-edible toys: Nylon

Ingredients in edible treats: Varies according to each product

Pros:

  • Well-liked by most canines
  • Promote dental health
  • Sold in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Come in many different flavors, including bacon and peanut butter

Cons:

  • Some hard chewers consume the edible chews within minutes.
  • Hard chewers may swallow pieces of the non-edible chews.
Many pet stores sell hollow beef bones. They cost a few dollars each and are well worth it since you can reuse them for months or even years.

Many pet stores sell hollow beef bones. They cost a few dollars each and are well worth it since you can reuse them for months or even years.

7. Frozen Hollow Bones Stuffed With Food

Beef bones can be purchased hollow or pre-filled. I like to purchase them hollow so that I can fill them with healthy food my dog likes. The idea is for canines to lick the filling inside the bone, and to not chew the bone itself.

You can fill hollow bones with:

  • Plain Greek yogurt 2% fat
  • Peanut butter (make sure it doesn't contain xylitol)
  • Oatmeal
  • Mashed sweet potatoes
  • Mashed pumpkin (not pumpkin filling)
  • Applesauce
  • Mashed bananas
  • Bone broth

Mix it up and keep it fun for your dog! My pup loves a bone filled with Greek yogurt with a swirl of peanut butter in the middle.

Pros:

  • You can fill them with any food your dog likes
  • Most dogs will love them
  • Don't require chewing so all dogs can enjoy them
  • More gentle on teeth than other chews
  • You can reuse the hollow bones for months or years
  • They can be prepared and frozen in advance

Cons:

  • Because your dog is licking, not chewing, they don't clean your pup's teeth.
I keep bones and Kong toys stuffed with food in my freezer. My dog loves them and they keep him busy!

I keep bones and Kong toys stuffed with food in my freezer. My dog loves them and they keep him busy!

Many Kong toys will hold up even with the hardest chewers.

Many Kong toys will hold up even with the hardest chewers.

8. Kong Toys

Kong toys are known for being super durable for even the hardest chewers. They come in many shapes and sizes. Some can be filled with treats or foods to lick or chew on.

The same foods you stuff hollow bones with can be used to fill Kong toys.

Add variety to keep things interesting for your pup!

Material:

Rubber

Pros:

  • Very durable
  • Come in various levels of hardness (senior dogs may benefit from softer material)
  • Sold in a wide range of shapes and sizes

Cons:

  • Some hard chewers can chew through even the hardest Kong toys.
  • The material some Kong toys are made of has come under some scrutiny.

9. Dried Veggies and Fruit

You can buy dried fruit and veggies in some pet stores, or you can make them yourself. Once you figure out which veggies and fruit your dog likes, try offering him the dried version. They're also sometimes called "dehydrated" chews.

Some dehydrated food your dog may like:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Apples
  • Green beans

Pros:

  • Healthy
  • Well-liked by most canines
  • More gentle on teeth than other chews
  • Promote dental health
  • You can easily make them

Cons:

  • They're not very long-lasting. Most dogs will chomp them down right away.
Many pet stores sell animal bones in a wide range of sizes.

Many pet stores sell animal bones in a wide range of sizes.

I'm comfortable giving my dog large bones to chew on as long as I supervise him.

I'm comfortable giving my dog large bones to chew on as long as I supervise him.

10. Real Bones

Some people are uneasy about giving their dog real bones to chew on. They're afraid of splinters that may get lodged in their pup's throat or cause intestinal blockage. They're also concerned about teeth fractures.

It's important to note that certain bones are more prone to splintering than others. For example, chicken bones and small bones in general will break more easily. Larger bones such as beef knee caps or knuckles are less likely to splinter.

My dog loves knee caps, but I do take the bone away shortly after he has chewed off all the meaty parts on it. I have to distract him before I can take it away, though, and it's not always easy!

Talk to your vet, do your research, and use your best judgment in deciding whether or not to give your canine real bones.

Pros:

  • Ideal for hard chewers
  • Well-liked by most canines
  • There are many kinds of bones to choose from
  • Promote dental health
  • Larger bones, such as knee caps, are less likely to splinter

Cons:

  • Smaller bones may splinter and cause choking or damage a dog's digestive tract.
  • Some bones may break canine's teeth.
Select the chews and treats that are best for your canine.

Select the chews and treats that are best for your canine.

How Often Should I Give My Dog Chews?

I have often asked myself how many chews or long-lasting treats per week are too many for my dog. What's the limit?

There are many factors to consider in deciding how often you should give your pup chews. The answer will be different for each dog.

Factors to consider include:

  • The ingredients in the chew or treat
  • How many calories it contains
  • The size of the edible
  • Your dog's size
  • What else your dog has eaten that day (his total caloric intake)

As a general guideline, one or two chews per week is considered fine for your pup. However, check with your vet to help you decide what is best for your canine.

Most pet stores carry a wide range of rawhide chews. Talk to your vet to see if rawhide is a good choice for your canine.

Most pet stores carry a wide range of rawhide chews. Talk to your vet to see if rawhide is a good choice for your canine.

Rawhide

Rawhide is extremely long-lasting and for this reason is a very popular choice for many dog owners. Rawhide is generally well-liked by canines and it will keep them busy for hours.

However, a reasonable concern many people have is that rawhide does not dissolve in the dog’s stomach after he swallows it. In fact, the rawhide actually swells up, which creates a risk of intestinal blockage.

Talk to your vet about rawhide and use your discretion to make the best decision for your pup.

Elk antlers are well liked by many dogs. They generally prefer the middle part of the antler rather than the pointy part.

Elk antlers are well liked by many dogs. They generally prefer the middle part of the antler rather than the pointy part.

Elk Antlers

Antlers are made of real bone and are an extension of the animal’s skull. Animals naturally shed and regrow antlers every year. They are actually the fastest growing bone in nature!

Antlers are one of the most durable and long-lasting chews for dogs, so some people consider them to be a good choice for hard chewers.

However, a concern is that they're extremely hard, so they can break your dog's teeth, especially if he's a hard chewer. Another concern is that they can splinter and cause dogs to choke or damage their digestive tract.

Cow hooves can be filled with food and frozen for a long-lasting treat.

Cow hooves can be filled with food and frozen for a long-lasting treat.

Cow Hooves

Cow hooves are made of keratin, a strong protein also found in human nails. Cow hooves can be hard for dogs to digest and can cause gastrointestinal problems if they're not eaten in moderation.

Also, like elk antlers, cow hooves can splinter or break into sharp pieces, which can result in choking and cause damage to a dog's digestive tract. Because they're so hard, they can also damage their teeth.

Be sure to supervise your canine if you give him cow hooves and make sure he's not eating them too often.

Dehydrated animal parts are generally well liked by canines but they don't last very long for harder chewers.

Dehydrated animal parts are generally well liked by canines but they don't last very long for harder chewers.

Dehydrated Pig Ears, Trachea and Other Animal Parts

The benefit of giving your dog dried animal parts like pig ears and trachea is that they're made of a single ingredient so they're easy on canines' digestive system.

However, a concern is that some animal parts, like pig ears, have a very high fat content. In addition, dried animal parts are not very long-lasting, especially for hard chewers.

My dog will wolf down most dehydrated animal parts in less than 60 seconds.

Many dogs love tearing up rope toys!

Many dogs love tearing up rope toys!

Rope Toys

Many canines love chewing on rope toys. When my dog was a puppy, he enjoyed playing tug of war with a rope toy and then tearing the rope apart!

Some concerns about rope toys is that if dogs swallow too many strands of rope, they can cummulatively create blockage in their intestines. It's sort of like how hairs in a shower drain eventually cause clogging.

If you give your canine a rope toy, the main thing is to supervise him as he plays with it to make sure he's not swallowing too many strands.

Chews help puppies during the teething process.

Chews help puppies during the teething process.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Chews

  • Your dog's age (older dogs have more sensitive teeth so they may need softer chews)
  • His size
  • The size of the chew
  • Ingredients
  • If your canine is a hard, medium, or soft chewer
  • The flavors he prefers
  • The shapes he likes (rolled-up, stick, ring-shaped, etc.)
  • Allergies to any ingredients in chews
Teach your dog to drop your slipper in favor of the bone.

Teach your dog to drop your slipper in favor of the bone.

Teach Your Dog What He's Allowed to Chew On

Besides keeping him busy and calm, giving your pup things to chew on can also keep him from chewing on things you want him to leave alone.

For example, when my dog would start to chew on my slipper, I would say "drop it" and offer him a small peanut butter treat (he loves peanut butter) immediately after he dropped it. Then I would exchange the slipper for a long-lasting chew.

This helped him learn that there are certain things that are okay to chew on and certain things that are not.

I also tried to keep my slippers out of sight until I was sure he had learned this lesson.

Sources

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Madeleine Clays

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