All puppies chew, spelling doom for your furniture and shoe collection. Appropriate chew toys help your pup satisfy this urge and keep your belongings safe. Chew sticks, despite the name, may not be a good option for a puppy, as they can pose a hazard to such a small pooch.
A puppy is not born with teeth, much to his Mama's relief, and only starts developing them at around 3 weeks of age. This, not coincidentally, is usually about the time Mom starts weaning. This first set of teeth, known as milk, baby or deciduous teeth, takes about a month or so to grow in completely. Deciduous teeth are much softer and more fragile than the stronger adult teeth that will grow in later, and they're prone to breaking. Since chew sticks are typically hard sticks of pressed meat-like products, they could very well be too hard on your puppy's practice chompers. One bad bite could crack or break your puppy's teeth, causing pain and dental problems.
Aside from the possible dental dilemma, chew sticks could pose a health risk to overly excited pups. Chewing is a fun pastime for puppies, and if the particular chewy is meat-flavored, all the better. But determined puppies could gnaw large pieces of the chew stick off and swallow them, possibly causing a choking hazard. If the chunk manages to go down the gullet, your puppy's not completely out of the woods. A large chunk of chew stick could become stuck in his stomach or gastrointestinal tract, causing a blockage and severe pain. He would very likely require surgery to remove the offending piece.
Recommended Chew Toys
Keep in mind that if your puppy is between 3 and 6 months of age, he most likely still has many of his deciduous teeth left and you should choose toys accordingly. Softer toys that do not splinter or pose a choking hazard are better for younger pups, while older pooches benefit from harder chewy toys. A variety of chew toys are available at your local pet retailer to encourage safe chewing, such as synthetic bones, stuffed animals and treat toys. Frozen dog-friendly foods such as carrots and apples are effective and healthy chew stick alternatives.
Never, ever leave your puppy unsupervised while he's going to town on his chew toys. Even if a toy has gotten the highest safety marks from a dozen pet protection groups, it only takes one freak accident to spell disaster. Replace toys immediately if they become broken or worn to the point where they may break apart and become a choking hazard. Do not punish your puppy if you catch him chewing on something he shouldn't -- he won't associate the punishment with the action. Redirect him and offer praise when he chews on something more appropriate. When offering food, research it first to make sure it's safe for dogs.
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