Not too long ago we submitted a post highlighting the Best Chew Toys for Puppies. It showcased a varied selection of top rated chew toys aimed at puppies aged 0-6 months, including natural, durable and edible options. Today, we’re showcasing 8 of the best dog toys for chewers aged 6 months and up, as recommended by our team of experts. You might notice some familiar brands, as well as a few new ones particularly suitable for those powerful adult teeth and jaws. If you’re keen to skip ahead to the product breakdown click here.
Those of you who read Ouch! My Finger may already be familiar with some of the following so feel free to skip ahead.
Why do dogs chew?
We’ve all gone through this right? You innocently leave something lying around the house and come back to a mangled, slobbery mess slightly resembling what used to be a perfectly functional household item (RIP dish brush). You’re wondering to yourself, “he’s not a puppy anymore, why is he still doing this??”. Well, there are a few reasons:
Provides mental stimulation:
Canine psychology professor, and author of multiple books on canine cognition, Stanley Coren claims the mental performance of an adult dog is comparable to that of a 2.5-year-old human child. Dogs love engaging their mind, and chewing provides such an outlet, especially if provided with a puzzle of sorts as seen in treat dispensing toys.
Exercises their jaw muscles
Your four-legged best friend has one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom. Coming ahead of cougars and in some cases, their own relatives, the grey wolf. A grown human male has an average bite force of 150 PSI (pounds per square inch), while dogs have a recorded bite force of up to 556 PSI! They definitely have some powerful chompers and as a result, keeping these muscles exercised is an important part of your dog’s well-being.
Cleans their teeth
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from gum disease. In addition, they are prone to plaque and tartar buildup, as well as bad breath (don’t we all know it) and allowing them to chew is one of the most economical ways to maintain their oral health. Certain dental treats can reduce plaque by up to 70%! Gnawing both massages gums and scrapes at tartar, saving you plenty in time and money at the vet’s office.
Reduces bad breath
The constant buildup of plaque, tartar and odour-causing bacteria is kept low with regular gnawing. While your dog’s breath will probably never smell particularly pleasant, chewing helps keep offensive odours to a minimum.
Alleviates anxiety and frustration
Perhaps one of the most noteworthy points, chewing provides relief to dogs that are experiencing emotional discomfort. When dogs become stressed, they often become destructive. Those of you who care for dogs that experience separation anxiety will know all about this. Dogs in shelters (highly stressful experiences for dogs) can often be seen chewing and tossing their blankets. Consider it a form of self-medicating.
Boredom can play a huge part. Lack of exercise and attention often leads to dogs making their own fun, usually at the expense of whatever they find within mouth’s reach. Left unsupervised, dogs can hurt themselves far too easily.
So why should I give my dog toys to chew on?
As shown above, the benefits of allowing your dog to chew are significant. A dog that is kept mentally stimulated, with a clean mouth and minimal neurotic behaviours is a far more pleasant friend to keep. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already had something chewed up that you’d rather hadn’t been! Dogs rely on their humans for their well-being and toys provide a safe outlet for them to do what they innately need to do.
Not all dog toys are made equal
As we found in our research into the best chew toys for puppies, dogs prefer toys that are soft and easy to chew and manipulate. If there’s a squeak involved, bonus! Research at University of Bristol’s Veterinary School found that dogs can quickly become accustomed to their toys’ sound, smell and texture, causing them to lose interest. Consequently, they recommend owners keep multiple toys in their arsenal and rotate on a regular basis.
Manufacturers of the best dog chew toys maximise canine enjoyment while minimising risks associated with chewing such as choking, ingesting toxic materials and splintering. Notably, not all companies employ this level of integrity. As a result, our team put quality and safety first, to save you having to learn first hand.
8 Best Dog Toys for Chewers
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Originally developed in 1994 for horses, Jolly Pet’s Jolly Balls are a favourite amongst dog owners. Made in the USA and backed by the manufacturer’s guarantee, these toys have been built with a particular focus on quality and durability – your heavy chewers can go nuts. Jolly balls bounce, float and don’t deflate if punctured. Available in a number of sizes to suit your special friend, these balls can keep them entertained for hours. Did we mention they’re scented?
The JollyBall in action.
Started in 1997, Planet Dog has been leading the industry in socially responsibility and value. Their Orbee-Tuff Luna ball is 100% guaranteed, USA made, recyclable, non-toxic, super durable and glows in the dark! Great bounce and floatability. Proceeds from Planet Dog sales fund the training, placing and support of working dogs helping people in need.
High bounce, high visibility and high durability are just a few features of the super popular Chuckit! Ultra Ball. These are the number one selling dog toy balls on Amazon.com with over 3000 positive reviews. Designed in the US and made from quality, natural materials, these balls are perfect for fetch and can even be used with launchers.
West Paw Design’s Zogoflex pet products are US made, known for their durability and guaranteed to last. Like a few others on this list, the Zogoflex range of dog chew toys float, bounce and are recyclable. Made of certified safe materials, the Tux Treat Toy adds an extra layer of entertainment by allowing you to place yummy bits of food inside, giving your pooch something to work at. When it’s ready to be cleaned, just pop it in the dishwasher.
Nylabone has been manufacturing dog toys since 1955, and their Galileo is still one of the best dog toys for heavy chewers available. Made of extra tough nylon, bristles rise during the chewing process to help clean teeth and control plaque and tartar build-up. The Nylabone Galileo is an absolute monster of a bone, incredibly durable and made right in the US.
Our next recommendation comes from perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the realm of dog chew toys. KONG products are revered by veterinarians, trainers and dog owners worldwide for their incredible durability. Suited to the most aggressive chewers, the KONG Extreme is made from an ultra-strong black rubber compound. They can be stuffed with your dog’s favourite treat to keep him busy for hours. The KONG Extreme’s unpredictable bounce makes for a fun game of fetch too. These chew toys are especially beneficial for those of you seeking ways to reduce separation anxiety. Available in 5 sizes – S to XXL.
Does your dog enjoy soft toys? The search for dog toys that are both plush and durable can be a painful one. Your dog rips apart the stitching in a second, and *poof*, out comes all the stuffing (swallowing hazard anyone?). Outward Hound’s Invincibles Plush range consist of stuffingless squeak toys that go the distance. Seams are made of reinforced double layers (so they don’t come apart all too easily), the Dura-Tuff inner lining minimises ripping. They’re stuffing free to prevent mess and blockage, and the squeaker keeps on squeaking even if it’s punctured.
Now for something a little different. Up until now, everything we’ve shared has been tough, durable and made from non-edible parts. Himalaya Chews, on the other hand, are 100% consumable. Made from an ancient recipe for hard cheese, these yak milk based chews are truly unique. All natural ingredients and preservative free, dogs gnaw on Himalaya Chews for hours. They don’t get soggy, have any obnoxious odours and dogs absolutely love them.
As these are edible chews, they tend not to last as long as the previously mentioned toys. However, you may end up having to try a few options to see what really keeps your dog entertained.
- Always keep in mind that dogs should never be left without supervision, especially when presenting new toys. Due to varying natures and play styles, you can not predict how your dog will chew.
- If small pieces fall off, be sure to pick them up to avoid choking. Once toys wear down to stumps, toss them out and replace as needed.
- Never give dogs cooked bones. The cooking process makes bones brittle, allowing them to splinter more easily. This can potentially lead to fracturing of the teeth and perforation of the throat and intestines. Veterinarians find a high incidence of surgery required for dogs who are fed cooked bones.
- Approach rawhide chews with caution. These chews are often manufactured offshore in questionable facilities, using highly toxic substances. Many owners have reportedly observed contamination, diarrhoea, vomiting and even choking. There are a few US-based companies who have more suitable practices, so be very discerning if you decide to go the rawhide route.
Tips to see progress sooner
- As with all areas of dog training, you want to set your dog up to win. What does this mean exactly? Making the environment as easy as possible – put away items that he can reach and destroy. Leave only his toys out, so that the decision is made for him.
- There’s no shame in enticing your dog with extra treats to use his new toy. Smear peanut butter over the rim of his KONG or boil his Nylabone is chicken broth. Get creative, and show him how much fun it can be to chew the right item.
- Be consistent in how you interact with your dog. Rules have to be black and white, or else the dog becomes confused when he sees you’re upset about something he thought was allowed.
- If necessary, use bitter apple spray on pieces of furniture that you can not remove such as chair and table legs. This spray is safe, non-toxic and effective at deterring biting, gnawing, chewing and licking. Bitter apple spray is also great for spraying on bandages to prevent exacerbating wounds.
- Regular exercise is an absolute must when it comes to keeping destructive tendencies at bay. A tired dog is a good dog. He can’t chew on the sofa leg if he’s sleeping!
And there you have it! A concise list featuring the best dog toys for chewers who mean business. There is hope everyone, even the most aggressive chewers imaginable!
References and recommended reading:
- Pullen, A.J., Merrill, R.J.N. & Bradshaw, J.W.S. Habituation and dishabituation during object play in kennel-housed dogs. Animal Cognition. (2012) 15: 1143. doi:10.1007/s10071-012-0538-2
- Dodman, N., PhD. (2014, September 21). How dogs play. Pet Place. Retrieved from http://petplace.com
- Common dog behaviour issues. Destructive chewing. ASPCA. Retrieved from http://aspca.org
- Walters, P., VMD, DACVIM, DACVECC. (2014, May). Esophageal Foreign Bodies in Small Animals. Merck Veterinary Manual. Retrieved from http://merckvetmanual.com
- Eisner, E.R., DVM: ”Professional Home Dental Care of the Adult Dog and Cat,” World Dental Congress, 2003.