In the world of pet care, not all products are created equal. Just because a package insists it is “good for teeth ”or is a “dental chew” does not mean you should hand it over to your eager pup.  They are trusting you to provide good things for them, and have no idea of the potential risks. Some of these items are popular or have been beloved of pets for many generations, but there are several reasons why you should reconsider using them as a chew toy or dog treat.

Dried Pig Ears: This was an old classic for our dogs, but though they seem pretty healthy (as they are almost entirely natural products), pig ears are very high in fat.  Canines that struggle to breakdown fat compounds are more likely to have pancreatitis even if they eat as few as ONE pig ear on the regular.  Feed sparingly.

Rawhides: This chew toy is appealing to many because of its initial toughness (which helps scrape plaque of puppy teeth), durability, and its ability to soften with use.  The dangerous thing about rawhides is that when they do break apart, dogs tend to consume the scraps, and can choke, regurgitate, or get sick from them.  If you plan to give your dog a rawhide, stick around and supervise him to make sure nothing unfortunate occurs.

Antlers: Using an antler as a chew toy is less common, but some people still like to offer them as rewards for their pets.  Though most dogs chomp on these objects without difficulty, some pet owners have actually noted that their pups have gotten infections of fungus and bacteria if their skin or gums are punctured or cut by the broken antlers. It is not a common occurrence, but one worth mentioning nonetheless.

Cooked bones: These seem harmless enough, especially since dogs and bones have gone together in rhyme, reason and association as long as we can remember.  However, do not fall into the trap of equating the use of raw, meaty bones to that of using cooked ones.  When cooked, bones are not only brittle and tough, but they splinter and can damage teeth, gums and the gastrointestinal tract. Not a great choice for your canine buddy!

Cow hooves: “Natural” products are not always as helpful as they appear, especially in the case of cow hooves. These chewable objects actually put dogs are risk of tooth fracture, and do nothing for actual, measurable dental hygiene. The best items are not rigid and immovable, but rather are strong and durable, while allowing the teeth to sink in. “Bendable” aspects of chew toys do a better job at scraping teeth, since pokey, splintery, or sharp edges can cut, pierce and damage gums. Keep the cow hooves trotting far away from your pup!