Is your dog chewing on your shoes again, or maybe your pillows, or perhaps your bedding?

Dogs chew for a variety of reasons (see below). While you don’t want them chewing on your stuff, it is important for them to have something that they can chew.  

In this article, we’re going to talk about chew toys. We’ll go over different types of chew toys and how you can evaluate their features to pick a toy which will be safe and fun for your pet.


Why Do Dogs Chew?

Here are a few reasons why it is important for dogs to chew:

  • Puppies go through teething, during which chewing is necessary as part of the process. It helps the teeth come in and it reduces the associated pain.

  • Dogs chew to discover and interact with objects in their environments, especially when they are young.

  • Bored, anxious, or lonely dogs may find chewing stimulating and soothing.

  • Dogs chew to polish their teeth and exercise their jaws (especially important for an aging dog).

So for your dog’s physical and mental health, chewing is a must! The right chew toy can improve dental health and boost mood for dogs of all ages.  

Types of Chew Toys

While chew toys are already a subcategory of dog toys overall, did you know that they come in many different varieties? Following are some of the most common types of chew toys you’ll come across, and what types of dogs they may suit:

  • Rubber chew toys. If you are not sure what to get, a rubber dog toy is a great all-around option! Rubber is durable, and can stand up to fierce wear and tear. This makes it a very safe material, even for aggressive play. You’ll find toys within this subcategory which you can stuff with treats, doubling the reward of playtime. 

  • Rope toys. If you have a dog that enjoys a round of tug-of-war, the ideal type of chew toy for that is a rope toy. If a rope toy is in good condition and you are watching your dog, it should not be hazardous. But some dogs eat fraying rope strands, causing severe digestive injury. So make sure you are always present and that the rope isn’t falling apart.

  • Edible chew toys. Some chew toys are designed to be consumed. They’re an especially ideal choice if you are concerned about your pet’s dental health since they do well fighting tartar. But they are often high in calories, so don’t go overboard with them. You also may want to avoid giving them to dogs that have a tendency to try and gulp down large items. They are better for those that will take their time chewing and ingesting the toy.

  • Plush chew toys. Dogs often enjoy chewing on plush toys (not a surprise if your dog attacks your pillows—or your own plush toys!). If you purchase a plush chew toy for your pet, make sure it is made of rugged materials and that it doesn’t have any small parts which might pose a choking hazard (i.e. buttons).

  • Tennis balls. For limited chew time, tennis balls are an okay choice, but only if they are new and sturdy. Too much chewing on a tennis ball can lead to dental problems, and you also should never give one to a dog that might get it lodged in its throat.

Chew Toy Features to Consider

Your dog’s breed, size, health needs, temperament and preferences can all guide you in picking the right type of chew toy. Here are some additional considerations to have in mind when you are evaluating products.

  • The size of the toy. Consider the size of your dog’s mouth. Can the toy fit all the way inside, especially if compressed? Then it is a choking hazard, and you should pick another. 

  • Materials and construction. How durable is this toy going to be? Are the materials rugged? Are they healthy? If there are stitches, are they strong? Is the toy coated with anything unpleasant? 

  • The level of hardness. Plush chew toys will always be on the soft side. But for toys made out of rubber, you don’t want the toy to be too soft, or it might just break. But neither do you want it to have no give at all. Otherwise, your pet could end up breaking a tooth.

  • Ease of washing. Needless to say, any toy which your dog is chomping on and drooling all over is going to get to be pretty gross after a while. The easier it is to get the toy clean again, the better!

  • Extra features. Rubber chew toys sometimes can double as puzzle toys or treat toys. Think about looking for fun extra features which can add value.

What to Do After Selecting a Chew Toy for Your Dog

Once you end up picking out a chew toy (or several) for your dog to try, you can introduce it and see what happens. 

Watch your dog for the following: 

  • Level of interest and engagement

  • Safe play

  • Dental and digestive health

  • Energy levels

If you suspect a toy might be unsafe, don’t let your dog continue to play with it. Replace it with another. And if your dog doesn’t take to a certain toy, don’t be discouraged. It sometimes takes a few tries to identify a toy which your dog will like. Plus, the same toy which your dog rejects today might be of interest tomorrow.

The Right Chew Toy Will Help Keep Your Pet Happy and Healthy

There is more variety in chew toys than some new dog owners may realize. Not every chew toy is equal in terms of safety and overall quality, and not every toy is a match for every dog. Research and compare different types of chew toys and think about your dog’s size and attributes. Once you find the chew toy which is most ideal for your dog, your pet will be able to stay healthy and entertained.