Many dental chews on store shelves are downright dangerous, potentially leading to esophageal or intestinal blockages, as well as fractured teeth. When recommending a dental chew for your clients’ dogs, consider the following.
How readily will the dog gulp the chew? Gulping is especially common in Labradors and Golden Retrievers given rawhide chews, but it can occur in any dog with any chew. Dog treats that are swallowed whole, or in part, must degrade rapidly in the digestive system in order to prevent dangerous blockages. Companies concerned about blockages sell weight-appropriate chews, determined by examination of a dog’s caudal oral cavity compared to the dimensions of the chew (see photo). To deter gulping, the size of the caudal oral cavity is smaller than the chew.
How fast will the chew dissolve? Dog chews that are swallowed whole or in large pieces should be made to degrade rapidly in the canine digestive system. For example, some treats such as YummyCombs® include proprietary additives that promote solubility and digestion (Slick’M®). Water and digestive juices dissolve edible dental chews, but some chews are poorly soluble due to excessive compression in the manufacturing process, which doesn’t allow water to be absorbed. The result is a hard product that may lead to digestive blockage.
Will the chew’s texture or hardness lead to tooth fractures? What the chew is made from is paramount to safety. Never recommend bones (even nylon), hoofs, antlers, or other chews with thick walls. Dogs love to chew on them but they can cause injury that exposes the carnasial’s dental pulp. Side with chews that have thin walls, that bend and have a non-abrasive texture.