Often very young and very old dogs seem to be the most problematic for finding something that will catch their attention and keep it. Puppies, on the one hand, seem to enjoy chewing everything so even if you have a good selection of chew toys and bones they still seem to find your shoes, purse, backpack, homework assignment and favorite pillow the best toy of all to play with. Most puppies also go through a phase where the toilet paper roll, an old tennis ball or even a stick they found in the yard is their very most prized possession. Puppies are a challenge because most of the things they want to chew on are not something that you want them to chew on.
Senior dogs, on the other end of the spectrum, are not as excited about chewing on bones or toys. Often this is because older dogs tend to have more problems with tooth loss, gum disease and dental conditions that may make chewing hard objects painful or irritating to the dog. The problem is that the more they avoid chewing the worse the dental condition will get. Chewing helps to remove tartar and keep gums and teeth strong, actually providing and promoting better oral health. Senior dogs are also more likely to be more sedate and less interested in playing fetch, chasing a ball or even chewing on a rubber toy or rope toy.
Ideas for Puppies
There are a great number of different types of chew toys on the market that are designed for puppies of all different sizes. Some of the best chew toys are made from nylon and rubber, but avoid those made from light fabrics or vinyl as these pose serious choking and intestinal blockage issues. Most puppies, especially those that are very young, have poor coordination, not great eyesight and limited ability to attend to what is going on around them for long periods of time. Chew toys that are the rights size to fit in the puppies mouth and arenít too heavy or awkward to carry around are often the best choices. Avoid balls and round objects that are difficult for the puppy to grab with his or her mouth until they get a bit older and are more coordinated.
The best and safest bets are the durable latex and rubber toys such as Kongs, Nylabones and even a newer product known as the Chilly Bone. This product is made of heavy duty canvas and is meant to be soaked in water and frozen. The puppy can then chew on it just like a toddler chews on a frozen teething ring, soothing the gums and yet providing a somewhat soft surface to chew against.
Nylabones and Kong toys can be bought in a wide variety of sizes, just be sure to buy large enough toys or chew bones that your puppy won't somehow try to swallow the whole thing. Nylabones come in a variety of flavors that seem to really be popular with puppies, however you can also soak other latex toys in beef or chicken broth and then allow them to air dry to give a bit of flavor, at least for the first while the puppy plays with the chew bone or toy. Be sure to provide lots of praise and rewards when the puppy chews on the bone or toy and keep some chew toys in the sleeping area or crate to help deal with anxiety and boredom.
Gumbone chew toys, also made by Nylabone, provide a somewhat soft and almost gelatin type of area for the puppy to chew. This is reported to promote healthy tooth and gum development as it maximizes the scraping action of the toy. Typically puppies that get used to these softer yet very durable toys will continue to use them for the rest of their lives, definitely aiding in tooth and dental care.
Older dogs and senior dogs are often much less destructive on their chew bones and toys, however they may also be more specific as to what type of items they will or will not find entertaining and fun to play with. Typically senior dogs that haven't been inclined to chew on bones or play with toys when they are younger will be resistant to starting this activity.
If your senior dog does enjoy playing fetch or chasing a ball, consider some of the toys that incorporate balls along with ropes, hoops, rubber grips and even stuffed toy like components. One example of this type of multi-featured toy is a Spider Ball. This toy and chew item has a central rubberized ball with several rope or tether like arms coming out of the center ball. At the end of each arm is another texturized ball. Some have squeakers or make rattling sounds, sort of combining several toys in one.
Other tricks to get your older dog interested in chewing are to use the softer chews that are often sold for puppies. These bones and toys are much gentler on the teeth and gums and can actually be soothing for the older dog. Durable dog safe stuffed toys made specifically for pets can also be a great option for senior dogs. The fabric does provide the scraping action but it is also gentle on the mouth and gums. Older dogs still often like the squeakers, but just be careful if your dog might try to find out just what makes that sound as they can be choking hazards.
Kongs, nylon and rubber toys are still great options, consider buying the flavored or flavor infused toys to keep senior dogs interested. There are also chew bones such as Greenies and other dental bones that are specifically designed to help remove tartar while providing a bit of fun and a tasty treat. Always supervise your dog during and immediately after eating these types of bones just to be sure there is no chance of choking.