By Gwen Mykrantz, VSP (Very Spoiled Dachshund)

Hi everyone, my name is Gwen, I’m a dog and I like to chew stuff. My mom is a Veterinary Technician and studying dog behavior, so she knows how important it is to stimulate my brain and still allow me to be a dog. One thing lots of people don’t understand is how much we dogs love to chew! You know when you get a copy of a book you’ve been dying to read and you really just throw yourself into the story and become completely engrossed? That’s how we feel when we have something we really love to chew. Well, I assume this analogy is correct, I can’t read (but, ironically, I can blog).

Anyway, Mom and Dad have spent a lot of time (and money) trying out different chew toys for me and my siblings. We have tried soft toys, vinyl toys, latex toys, all different shapes and sizes of Nylabones, Kongs, Busy Buddy toys, Greenies and rawhides.

Some of my doggy friends have told me about pig’s ears, bully sticks, chew hooves, antlers and soup bones but when I asked mom about those items she said they weren’t for us. She explained that many of those items pose hazardous for me and my tummy as well as for mom and dad. Apparently the pig’s ears, bully sticks, etc., while sold as food products are not manufactured and inspected the same way as our actual food products are. They could be harboring dangerous bacteria that could make me, my siblings or my parents ill. Plus, they aren’t healthy. Pig products are very high in fat which could pose problems for my gut and they have a lot of calories, which people tend to forget about. Chew hooves, antlers and soup bones, or any bones for that matter, are way too hard. My mom worries that I could easily break my teeth off the way that I get into chewing on stuff! Plus, these products also pose a risk because they can splinter and get stuck in my mouth, esophagus or tummy. That sounds awful.

Now, rawhides are an item that mom lets us have on occasion. She explained to me that like these other products, rawhide isn’t a product of the food industry. Instead, it’s a product of the leather industry. If we buy American sourced beef hide and the end product is also American made she generally feels better about letting us have it. Here???s the thing, lots of companies try to make you think it’s an American made product by saying American Beef Hide on the front of the package, but what you really have to pay attention to is the back of the package and make sure it actually says Made in America. Unfortunately, most hides are processed in China or Mexico. They are shipped in those huge shipping crates on cargo liners. During storage and travel the hide decomposes and gets moldy. When it arrives to the tannery over in China or in Mexico they spray all kinds of terrible chemicals on it to stop the decomposition and get rid of the mold, then they wash it and bleach it so it looks better. Then they package it up and send it back to the USA where we sell it to our generally unassuming consumers who don???t know the difference between Made in America and American Sourced Beef Hide. Since you now know the label trick it is your responsibility to spread the word to other pet parents to keep us safe and healthy! American Made may be slightly more expensive but we’re worth it!

So, after all of our testing, what do we recommend? Kongs, rawhides and Greenies are my favorites but some of my other top picks are:

Nylabone DuraChew Double Bone with Bacon Flavor

Premier Busy Buddy Bouncy Bone

(I like the Bristle Bone too, but I’m such a powerful chewer that I crack the part with the bristles on my first chew session)

Nylabone Dental Dinosaur Chew (my personal favorite shape = Stegosaurus)

Nylabone DuraChew Plus with Chicken Flavor

Mom and Dad have strategically placed a few of these chews all around the house. This way when we get the urge to chew or if we are feeling frustrated for some reason we are likely to have a chew nearby. They even have a couple of chews in their bed in case I get the urge to chew in the middle of the night. At times when Mom knows we are going to need to be busy and distracted for a little while, like when the Direct TV guy comes to the house, there is the ever important frozen Kong. Mom freezes all different kinds of stuff in our Kong toys and when we get them they are so cold and delicious that we get brain freeze! ??Encourage your moms and dads to get several different chews for you so you won???t be tempted to do this:

*Note: Nylabones also pose a risk for fracturing teeth. I, Andrea, have personally made the decision to allow my dogs to chew on them because I feel the amount of satisfaction they get from chewing outweighs the risk for fracturing teeth. If your preference is to preserve teeth at all costs then I would recommend sticking with Kong toys, Greenies and anything else soft enough to make a dent in it with your fingernail. No single chew is perfect for every dog and you should never let your dog have a chew without supervision, especially for the first time. This is just a synopsis of what works best for my family as well as a general recommendation for what Best Friends feels are pretty safe chew for your fur kids. Chew safely my friends!