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Best Chew Toys for Dogs: A Buyer’s Guide for Dog Owners

Posted on April 26 2021

Dog Plays With Toys

If you’ve noticed that your pup loves chewing on their favorite toys and, unfortunately for your home’s furniture, on a whole lot of other random things lying around the house, you’re certainly not alone.

While chewing is a perfectly healthy and normal behavior for a puppy or adult dog, it’s in your pup’s best interest for you to invest in long-lasting dog chews so that their dental health can be protected and their overall well-being safeguarded.

At the same time, aggressive chewers may need a little more attention, as destructive chewing may be a sign of distress and anxiety, requiring a more thoughtful and strategic approach from dog owners to start curbing the behavior once and for all.

So, what should you look for in the best chew toys for dogs? And how can you tell if your pup’s chewing is healthy or not?

In this guide, we want to give you all the information you need to save your pup’s favorite soft toys, protect your furniture from chew-induced disasters, and start training your pup to go to their safe, indestructible dog toys instead.

Why Do Dogs Like to Chew so Much in the First Place?

It’s a rite of passage for all puppy owners: You leave the room for a minute, and then you come back in to find your new couch cushion ripped apart, feathers flying everywhere, and a pup hiding away in shame.

Now, your puppy is going to need some training, of course, but that doesn’t mean that your dog will stop chewing altogether as they grow up. 

When it comes to puppies, chewing is an instinct that helps them relieve the pain of teething, while for older, adult dogs, chewing is their natural way to keep their jaws strong and their teeth sharp and healthy.

On top of that, dogs also use their mouth and teeth for exploration, chewing as a way to get familiar with their surroundings and explore a new environment. Healthy dogs may also chew on objects as a way to relieve normal boredom and entertain themselves, not unlike any other form of playing.

Good Chewing vs. Bad Chewing

So, dogs are clearly hardwired to chew on things, but it’s up to the owner to reward and encourage the good, healthy kind of chewing by getting them some long-lasting dog chews and put the bad, destructive chewing to a stop.

The bad kind of chewing (the constant gnawing on shoes, socks, and household objects) may be a sign of separation anxiety, along with other destructive behaviors like soiling the house and ripping trash bags apart.

The best course of action for stopping these behaviors is to spend more time exercising and walking your dog, along with stimulating them with puzzles, feeders, or interactive toys, making sure they’re feeling loved and confident before you have to leave the house.

If you’re in need of more deterrents than interactive toys and extra tough chew toys, you might want to look into safe deterrent sprays your pup will definitely keep clear of if sprayed onto furniture and objects. Your dog will soon realize the connection between the unpleasant taste and the no-go objects, helping you with your training in times of need.

While this is by no means the end-all and be-all solution to your dog chewing troubles, deterrents can go a long way toward curbing the behavior in the short term while you work on your training and, if necessary, while you get in touch with a canine training professional or veterinarian behaviorist.

Dog Runs With a Ball

While you should do your best to keep your little chewer supervised at all times, you might also want to consider investing in a mobile doggie crate or fixed gate to keep your pup out of trouble when no one’s at home so that you can keep your possessions safe and make sure your dog won’t act out in a way that’s dangerous to their health. It’s all a part of being a conscientious dog owner, and you can never be too careful when it comes to their well-being!

On the other hand, if your pup’s chewing behavior is completely on the healthy and unproblematic side of things, what you should focus on is making sure that their outlets of chewing and gnawing are nothing but safe, durable, and healthy for your pup’s teeth.

What to Look for in Safe Chew Toys for Dogs

So, what features should you look for in safe, durable pet toys, and what are the best chew toys for dogs of all shapes and sizes?

We’re going to recommend tips on how to spot the perfect chew toy for your furry friend. Whether you’re looking for a simple outlet for your pup’s boundless energy or out to curb more aggressive chewing behaviors, you can let them play safely and with complete peace of mind!

Make Sure Toys Are 100% Safe from Choking Hazards

As a general rule of thumb, you should always make sure that your pup’s next toy cannot become a choking hazard, avoiding toys that are too small and that could be easily ingested by a curious pup.

Your chew toy of choice should be appropriate for your dog’s size first and foremost and should not feature any strings, ribbons, or removable parts that could be easily chewed away and swallowed.

Make sure you also keep an eye on your pup as you introduce them to any new toy so you can observe their behavior and quickly be able to spot if the new toy might be unsafe for your pup’s vigorous chewing.

Avoid Chew Toys that Are too Hard (or too Soft!)

When picking your pup’s next new toy, you’ll want to make sure it won’t be too hard for their teeth and gums, as picking the wrong material might accidentally cause some big dental trouble in the long run.

While you should be looking for durable and long-lasting materials, excessively hard and tough chew toys for dogs, like bones and antlers, will likely damage your pup’s dental health over time, possibly even resulting in chipped teeth, gum splinters, and other expensive trips to the vet!

At the same time, you’ll want to avoid toys that are too soft, as your pup will likely wear them out in no time or even not be as attracted to them if they don’t put up a good fight. 

The best chew toys for dogs are those that are neither too hard nor too soft, tough enough to keep them entertained and last for a long time, yet with enough give to keep their teeth and gums healthy through every chew.

Check Your Stuffed Toys

Finally, we recommend checking the label of your pup’s stuffed toys to make sure they don’t contain any dangerous filling inside.

While picking a soft, plush toy to be your dog’s go-to chew is definitely not recommended, it’s likely that you own a few for them to play with. Conscious owners should always make sure every dog toy they own is 100% safe in case your curious and excitable pup ends up playing a little too hard. If they happen to pierce through the fabric and ingest some of the materials inside, you’ll want to make sure there are no polystyrene beads, nutshells, or other possible choking hazards.

If one of their favorite stuffed toys has already been torn to shreds, make sure to dispose of the polystyrene or cotton fabric as soon as it’s out, and if your pup can’t go more than a few days without destroying a stuffed toy, you might want to consider treating them to harder, more durable toys they can chew on without ripping them to shreds!

Our Picks for the Best Chew Toys for Dogs

So, with safety recommendations out of the way, let’s see what types of toys make for the most long-lasting, safe, and satisfying chew toys for both casual and aggressive chewers.

As a general rule of thumb, you should keep in mind that no toy will be perfect for all kinds of pups, as the best pick for them will largely depend on their size, chewing behavior, and dental health requirements.

To make the job a little bit easier, we’re going to list the best toy types according to their benefits for dental hygiene and dental safety, how appropriate they can be for your dog’s size, and how sturdy their materials and designs are for pups who tend to tear all their new toys apart in a matter of days!

The Best Toys for Active Dogs and Aggressive Chewers

Aggressive chewers are known to be able to completely destroy a soft stuffed toy in a heartbeat, making for a lot of money wasted in the long run and a lot of missed opportunities for your pup to play to their heart’s content.

That’s why active dogs and overly enthusiastic chewers alike fare best with more durable and tough chew toys, designed to pass the test of time and keep them entertained every day.

The best toys for active and excitable pups are rubber toys and rope toys, perfect for playing a classic tug-of-war or fetch and able to withstand anything your active furry friend might put them through.

Choose firm rubber toys that are hollow inside to guarantee your pup’s teeth and gums will stay healthy through it all, and pick rope toys that are tougher and less prone to shredding to make sure your pooch won’t pull apart the fabric over time.

Dog Walks On the Street

A durable stuffed toy, free of potentially hazardous fillings, will also do the trick if your pup is not prone to destructive behaviors, and an old-fashioned tennis ball (or ball-shaped toy made of durable materials) will also work well for most dogs. You should always supervise your dog through their play, however, if your ball toy is small enough to be ingested!

In terms of what not to use, you should stay clear of bully sticks, rawhides, and pig ears, as these not only tend to be too tough for a pup’s teeth and gums but also are too high in calories for dogs who’d fare better watching their weight.

The Best Toys for Teething Puppies

If you’re dealing with a puppy going through the pains and frustration of teething, you’ll notice that they’ll try to chew and gnaw everything in sight (your shoes, your mats, your remote, even your fingers!) in order to soothe their tender gums as their teeth start to come in.

To help them get off your fingers and soothe their gums in a healthier way, you’re going to need long-lasting chew toys that are soft enough for their delicate gums and yet tough enough to satisfy them and soothe the growing pains. On top of that, you’ll also want to look for safe toys big enough that they won’t become choking hazards as they keep playing and exploring with their mouth.

There’s no better choice for treating a growing puppy than keyring toys, plush stuffed toys, and toys designed especially for teething puppies, which can be frozen to provide cooling relief to their gums. Most freezable toys come with thick designs able to withstand more aggressive chewing, and they are also ideal for keeping your puppy’s new teeth clean and free of tartar.

When introducing your pup to a new chew toy, always make sure to never leave them unsupervised, as even the safest toys might be broken by an excited and curious puppy. Watch them closely to avoid any swallowing of broken parts and fillings, and train them to “let go” or “give” if they happen to bite things they shouldn’t!

The Best Toys for Bigger Breeds

Bigger breeds need equally bigger chew toys to keep them entertained, satisfied, and most importantly safe from choking hazards.

You should always opt for treating them to tough plush toys that are made with double-stitched seams and extra layers of materials, or alternatively, near-indestructible dog toys made of durable rubber and tough-to-chew bone toys that can promote oral health at the same time.

Stay away from thin rope toys and soft plushies, as well as real bones or other tough materials that are prone to splintering and splitting. While it’s true that most chew toys that are not specifically designed for large breeds or aggressive chewers won’t last in the jaws of your big pup for long, you should never underestimate the dental risks posed by rawhides, sticks, and bones!

The Best Toys for Training

If you’re planning to use chew toys to curb destructive behaviors, use toy feeders to reward your pup during training, or simply find a way to stop your dog from barking out of boredom and understimulation, you’re going to need toys that are specifically designed for the purpose (like puzzles and feeders) or toys that are fun for your pooch to play with for hours on end.

Squeaky toys are great for keeping your pup occupied and helping you train them not to bark out of boredom, but they are generally not recommended for dogs with more aggressive, destructive chewing tendencies, as the squeak can become frustrating and actually make the behavior worse.

Toys that either dispense treats or can be fitted with a treat for training are a great all-rounder, as they are perfect for cognitive stimulation and can last for a long time if made of a durable material like rubber.

Long-Lasting Chew Toys, Comfort Toys, and More for Happy and Healthy Pups

Treating your pup to a diverse range of toys can help them develop healthy chewing behaviors and stimulate their exploration instinct in a fun and safe way, all while keeping them happy and entertained.

If you’re looking for the best place to get all the most innovative, fun, and fashionable toys for your pup to chew on without damaging their dental health or needing a brand-new toy after mere weeks, look no further than our extensive collection of soft, tough, and interactive dog toys. 

Whether you’re looking for a seasonal treat or a trendsetting birthday gift for your furry baby boy or baby girl, you’ll be guaranteed to find a forever chew toy that’s just perfect for them and that they’ll love to snuggle with in their soft bed, no matter how picky or destructive they might be!

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