When you own a dog, you have two choices: give them something healthy to chew or let them find something to chew (i.e. your shoes, rug, windowsills). Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, as it helps pups clean their teeth, exercise their jaws, and gives them something to do when they’re feeling bored.
Here are the best dog chews for your pup to enjoy.
Best Overall: SmartBones SmartSticks
With a price that can’t be beat, and a peanut butter flavor pups can’t resist, these sticks are beloved by thousands of reviewers, and within reason. These rawhide-free treats are packed with vitamins and minerals, and encourages your dog to chew, which in turn helps their teeth. They are 99.2 percent digestible and safe for puppies, small, and large dogs alike. However, they’re not intended for daily treats; save them for a weekly or twice a week splurge, depending on the size of your dog. Note that these do contain chicken and gluten, so it's best to determine if these treats fit your dog's diet.
Best Splurge: The Honest Company Beams Ocean Chews Grain Free Dog Chew Treats
These high-quality chews contain one ingredient, and one ingredient only: Wolffish skin. The fish, also known as rock salmon, naturally has no scales, which makes it mess-free and easy treat for your pooch. The fish is native to the colder parts of the Atlantic Ocean, which makes its skin thick and hearty—perfect for a long-lasting chew. It’s made in the U.S.A. in a factory that meets the FDA requirements for human-grade products, and it’s non-GMO project verified. The treats are also available in codfish skin. They're also naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in calories. Despite the higher price tag, countless reviewers report that their pups go absolutely wild for them.
Best for Teeth: Greenies Original Regular Natural Dental Dog Treats
If you're searching for a mouth fresher your dog will love, pick up Greenies Original Regular Natural Dental Dog Treats. These are not only shaped like a toothbrush, but they act like one, too, cleaning your pup’s teeth and freshening their breath. The treat’s chewy texture is designed to help clean the gum line and to remove plaque and tartar. The natural ingredients are tooth-friendly, too, however, these do contain wheat, and may not be the right choice for dogs on a grain-free diet. Available in several different sizes, make sure to pick the right sized treat for your dog, so they don't accidentally swallow one whole if it’s smaller than its mouth. Most dogs can safely eat one a day, although they may be begging you for more.
Best Long-Lasting: Jack & Pup 6-Inch Premium-Grade Odor-Free Bully Sticks
If you have a pooch that is an aggressive chewer, consider investing in a bag of bully sticks. Depending on the size of your pup and the size of the bully stick, one piece could keep your dog occupied for a full day. These treats made of cow muscle start off firm, then soften as your pup gnaws on it. You’ll want to make sure you’re buying these from a reputable company. Rest assured, Jack & Pup’s are made of hormone and antibiotic-free free-range, grass-fed cattle and are processed in a USDA Human Grade Certified and Inspected facility.
Best For Big Dogs: Amazing Dog Treats Beef Trachea Dog Chews
Feeding your pup beef tracheas are a great way to help boost their joint function as they age. Not only are these tasty treats high in protein and low in fat, but they are mostly made up of cartilage, which contains chondroitin and glucosamine, two supplements that benefit your pup’s joints. Larger dogs in particular are more likely to have hip dysplasia and could benefit from added doses of it in their diets. At a minimum of six inches, these treats are the right size for your larger dog’s mouth. Amazing Dog Treats are made from free-range, grass-fed cattle and contain no added chemicals. Similar to a bully stick, these will soften as your dog chews on them and they tend to smell a little better than them.
Best for Small Dogs: Purina Busy Bone Tiny Dog Chew Dog Treats
Just because a pup is smaller, doesn’t mean they can’t do a lot of damage to your household items with their sharp chompers. One of these Busy Bones from Purina will give them a healthy place to direct all that extra chewing energy. These have a meaty pork center that will encourage your pup to keep on chewing to get to it. These tiny dog chews are made for dogs up to 30 pounds.
Best Calming: Premium Care Stress & Anxiety Calming Treats for Dogs
Whether your pup suffers from separation anxiety, is afraid of thunderstorms, or gets the zoomies every afternoon on repeat, a calming chew can help your best friend chill out. These natural calming treats contain hemp seed oil, chamomile (just like your nightly tea), organic passionflower, valerian root, organic ginger root and l-tryptophan (that same amino acid that’s in turkey that makes you so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal)—all wrapped up in a tasty duck-flavored chewy treat. Reviewers say these treats calm their pups down without knocking them out and are perfect for car rides, those days when you have to leave your pup alone, and stormy nights.
Best for Puppies: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites Grain Free Lamb & Salmon
These treats from Wellness are sized just right and are specially formulated for dogs under a year old to be able to digest easily. The all-natural ingredients include lamb, salmon, and chickpeas along with blueberries, sweet potatoes, and apples. These ingredients are a natural source of DHA and omega 3 fatty acids, perfect for your growing pup. When you’re at home, try keeping a handful in the pocket of your pants so you’re always ready to reward your pup for good behavior.
If you're looking for a great dog chew that's not made of rawhide then look no further than SmartBones SmartSticks. These are highly digestible chews that are also safe for dogs of all sizes. At less than $0.80 a chew, the SmartSticks are a great option for pet owners to offer once or twice a week. If you're looking for a chew that not only keeps your dog busy but also benefits your dog's dental health on a daily basis, Greenie's Dental Treats may be what you want. These chews are not only digestible but are proven to help control tartar and plaque.
What to Look for in a Dog Chew
Anything your dog consumes needs to be digestible, so make sure the chew you choose is actually intended to be eaten and not just chewed on. If your dog has specific dietary needs or concerns, you'll also want to make sure the chew doesn't contain ingredients that your dog cannot eat. Grains and flavors will vary from chew to chew, so check the ingredients before making a purchase.
Chews should be appropriately sized for your dog. Small dogs may not be able to pick up a large chew and carry it around but more importantly, large dogs should not be given chews that are too small for them. If a chew is too small for a dog, it could get stuck in the roof of its mouth or in its throat and can cause your dog to choke. If a small chew is swallowed whole, it could also cause a serious obstruction in the stomach or intestines that could require surgery to remove it.
If you plan to give your dog a chew on a daily basis, you'll want to pay particular attention to how much each one costs. Chews that cost $5 or $10 each are not affordable options for daily treats. Look for chews that cost less than $1 each so you don't find yourself restricting your dog's chew time. More expensive chews can be saved for special occasions or intermittent use.
Can I give my dog leftover bones to chew?
If the leftover bones are cooked, then it is not a good idea to give them to your dog to chew. If the leftover bones are raw, then it is a little bit safer to give them to your dog but raw bones still carry risks. Salmonella infections, obstructions, splintering injuries, and more can occur from raw bones, especially if they are too small. If you want to give your dog a bone to chew, make sure it's uncooked and at least the size of its head to decrease the odds of a dangerous piece getting broken off.
Is it ok for my dog to chew on wood?
Wood can be chewed, but it is likely to splinter. Splintered wood can get stuck in teeth, the roof of your dog's mouth, its throat, and even skewer your dog's cheek. If wood is swallowed, it also doesn't digest, so it may cause gastrointestinal upset or an obstruction.
How can I stop my dog from chewing on furniture?
Positive reinforcement is always best when training a dog. If your dog is chewing on your furniture, try distracting it by replacing what it is chewing on with a toy or acceptable item to gnaw instead. Praise it when it chews what it should. If you need additional motivation for your dog, try using bitter sprays designed to deter chewing behaviors in pets or put temporary barricades around furniture you don't want your dog to get its teeth on.