Choosing a Chew
Products designed to be chewed by animals may occasionally cause intestinal problems or injury if not appropriate for the animal, if not used as intended by the manufacturer, or as the result of some other cause, so we recommend that animal be observed while they are chewing a dental treat or chew. Additionally, chew treats often come in different sizes. Please be sure that you feed the right size product to your dog, and observe the dog the first few times that she or he is given the chew – do not continue to give the chew if the dog takes one bite and swallows it – chews work best when the dog obtains at least a couple of minutes of chewing time when given the chew. The chewing action is more important that the total time spent chewing. An example being that some treats are typically consumed rapidly while still providing significant plaque removal benefits; giving a larger than recommended chew will not increase the benefit and could increase the risk of a complication by the pet swallowing a piece of the chew that is too large.
Many chew toys are available in the market place and it is impossible to discuss all the potential toys and all the potential dental and gastrointestinal hazards. There is always risk in life and no chew toy may be perfect for each pet. Some toys may not interest your pet. Some toys may hurt your pet if swallowed. Some chew toys may fracture your pet’s teeth.
The tooth is a living structure with the pulp tissue inside. The pulp contains the nerves and vessels that extend out to the margins of the tooth. If the enamel and dentin is fractured off the tooth, the inside of the tooth can be exposed. This results in pain and infection in the tooth. If the pulp inside of the tooth is exposed, not only will pain result, but the tooth will require treatment. The only two treatment options are endodontic treatment (e.g., root canal treatment, vital pulpotomy) or surgical extraction.
If a chew toy is so hard that injury would result if you were hit with it, it will have a tendency to break your pets’ teeth. Our dog’s dentition are designed for carnivore diet and their muscles of mastication (muscles to close and open the mouth) are very strong. Additionally, the occlusion (bite) of their cheek teeth is such that they are sectorial – cutting. Therefore, when a very hard object is between their teeth and they bite it may cause the tooth to fracture before their muscles tire out. Hard chew toys such as, but no limited to, antlers, butcher bones, hooves, hard pressed rawhides, and hard nylon style bones are known to fracture teeth. Toys such as fuzzy tennis balls may also act as an abrasive on teeth and wear the tooth substance quickly resulting in exposed pulps.