Friday, August 15, 2014

Dog In The Desert's Guide To Treats- Part 2 Chew Treats

As I said in my last post I have been getting a lot of questions from friends and on the blog about treats.  Part one was an extensive post about training treats.  I had a LOT to say about training treats, so it was a pretty thorough post you should check it out.  Now I am going to bring you part two of our four part series-
  1. Training Treats
  2. Chew Treats
  3. Treats to Occupy Time
  4. Biscuits and novelty treats for you to let guests hand out in an effort to stop them from giving your dogs table scraps
 Despite being an only occasional use item in my house chew treats seem to be like the number one discussed thing for dogs and they take up aisles at the big box pet stores.  My personal opinion is that chew treats are often used to mask other issues.  Maybe your dog is digging up the yard or chewing on your couch because they are bored, lonely and you aren't giving them enough exercise, not because they actually want to chew on something.  Before you go out and buy a pile of bully sticks make sure that your dog actually might want to chew on them, they don't just want to take a walk with you.  With that said- a lot of dogs do have a pretty strong desire to chew and chew treats can give you a break from your dog by occupying them for quite a while and redirect their natiral desire to chew to something productive- and not your furniture or carpet!

I am not going to cover chews your dog shouldn't have because that is over discussed on the internet or raw edible bones/hunks of meat because to me those are part of meals as far as I am concerned, not something that is a "treat."

With that said there are really only three chew treats I use in my house regularly.  Bully sticks, antlers and The Honest Kitchen Beams.

Lets start with bully sticks.  They gross a lot of people out because they are dried out bull penis, but it does not really bother me.  That part of the cow is going in the trash anyway so why not make it into a dog chew!  I love bully sticks because Copley is a very fast and hard chewer who will break off bits of things and swallow them whole.  Bully sticks are one of the only chews I feel safe giving him because they don't break apart, they are fully digestible and they take him a while to get through.  Copley will take about an hour to finish a thick eight inch bully stick.  Nova can chew down about an inch an hour, and Kerri could chew a bully stick for three months and not make a dent.  When the dogs get down to just a little piece that they might swallow I always take it away, but I have dogs that gulp food.  I know many dogs that safely work bully sticks all the way to the end, so that is up to you.  As with all things you need to watch your dog and make reasonable decisions based on how they chew things.  Also remember that anything edible has calories and bully sticks are not a low calorie food!  If your dog is needing to loose weight be sure to include the bully sticks in the calories they have eaten for the day.

This brings me to antlers!  I love antlers because they are not really edible per se, but the dogs can work pretty happily just to shave off little bits of it.  Antlers are the one chew that last and last in my house.  When I first get antlers the dogs always go crazy for them, but will loose interest after a month or so.  Lately I have been handing off my antlers to a friend when my dogs loose interest and that has worked out well for everyone.  The friends we hand off to are pit/GSD/Aussie combinations and they can put a much bigger dents in the antlers than my guys do in their month of excited chewing.  The one downside to antlers is they can be very expensive!  In the pet store the prices are ridiculous.  We get ours from a friend of a friend that picks them up on their property in Montana.  We cut up the racks with a dremel and give them to the dogs.  If you are looking for a bargain but don't have a friend with elk on their property try e-bay.  An antler is an antler so even if it is not marketed as a dog chew they are absolutely usable as long as they are not treated with anything.  Many people sell the naturally shed antlers in their property on e-bay as craft supplies.  I find my dogs enjoy them better if they are split in half.

Finally we have the honest kitchen beams.  They are 100% fish skin chews and our dogs all love them.  They are the least durable chew out of all I have listed here, Copley can eat one in about five minutes and the chis each take about an hour to get through one of the beams.  I don't mind that they are so fast going because they are just fish, and I include them in the dogs meal calculations for the day.  It is always good when you are feeding home made food to make sure there is plenty of variety and besides being a tasty chew these are also a great way to get some fish (an item I don't buy the dogs a lot) into their diet.  I was hesitant to buy them at first because of the price, when looking online it was not a lot of weight for the price.  Once I saw them in a local pet store however, I got them right away.  They may be light but you get a lot of chews in a package.

To finish off I will give my opinion on several chews I have bought but don't use very often.  Here it is.
  • Himalayan Dog Chews- People go crazy for these but they just didn't work in my house.  Copley, at 20lbs, broke the one for 55lb dogs into three pieces and swallowed it all in less than a minute, then puked them up later.  Maybe if your dog isn't a big chewer these would be the way to go.
  • "Dental Chews" of any kind.  These may or may not actually work, and similar to the Himalayan chews above Copley can eat one in seconds.  He also is sensitive to potato and most of the premium ones are made out of potato s owe don't really keep them around.  Regardless of Copley's issues they are just a ball of dense starch and even if that is good for your dog's teeth is it really worth consuming that much highly precessed carbohydrates?  That is a question only you can answer.  Maybe though, if your dog has bad teeth try large meaty bones and bully sticks or the only really effective thing TOOTH BRUSHING!
  • Trachea, gullet, tendon and other dehydrated animal part chews.  My dog's LOVE trachea and tendon but they just eat them so fast!  It is much more worthwhile to me to buy bully sticks but I will occasionally pick up trachea or tendon as a treat if I see some that is sourced from the USA in a local pet store.

That is all I have to say about chew treats.  What are your dog's favorites?  Am I missing something good here?

Although over the years a few of these companies have given me free samples I was not in any way compensated for this post.  Having received probably hundreds of bags of treats via this blog I believe I am becoming a bit of an expert on what is on the market.  I decided to share my opinions all in one place and that is precisely what this is- my opinion.