Dog Chews: Which Ones are Right for Your Dog?

Reading Time: 6 MIN

Why Do Dogs Enjoy Bones and Chews?

Dogs’ ancestors ate most of the prey they killed, including the marrow from bones. For dogs today, dogs have an innate drive to chew. Keeping dogs occupied with chews will help with boredom and separation anxiety. Chews also help support health and wellness. Tracheas, for example, are rich in glucosamine, which is beneficial for joint health.

As pet owners and animal lovers, we feed our pets treats and chews because it bonds us to them and creates a deeper relationship.

Rule of Thumb

Not every bone and chew are for every dog. Knowing your pet’s habits, needs, and history is the best way to keep them safe and happy.

Enjoyment Safety Tips

Supervision is the most important aspect of safety. Always supervise your pet when they are enjoying a bone or chew. Watch how your pet holds the chew and at what angle the chew is in their mouth. Make sure they are not chewing or ripping off huge pieces that could cause choking.

Typically, pets should gnaw on a bone or chew for about 15 minutes at a time. If it’s the first time with a specific chew, then no more than 10 minutes at a time.

It’s also important to not put a dog in a crate with a chew without supervision or there will be a risk that something could happen when you’re not there.

Prior to feeding any chews, make sure to look it over for any cracks or strange colors. Also, note the way the chew smells. Does the chew smell sour or musty? This could be a sign of mold or that the chew is rancid.

Always make sure your pet has access to fresh water when they are enjoying their bone or chew.

Time to Take it Away

Always remove the chew immediately if your pet is choking or gagging. If the remaining piece becomes small enough to be a choking hazard, you should consider taking it away. If the bone is cracking or splintering, the bone should be removed.

Human Food is for Humans

Our pets love to beg for the delicious foods we eat. It’s our responsibility as their parents to only feed them foods safe for them. Avoid giving bones from your food, chocolate, grapes, and peanut butter containing xylitol. The AKC has a list of human foods that are safe or are not safe for dogs on their website so always check before giving any human food to your pet.

Bones and How to Select the Right Ones for Your Dog

Grey miniature schnauzer chewing on a large basted knuckle bone on a flat dog bed.

Bones are single-ingredient items, so they are allergen friendly, except filled bones. Bones are rich in calcium and phosphorous, which is good for growing puppies. Bones help satisfy the urge to chew and pass time, which can help reduce anxiety.

To select the right bones, consider that the heavier the animal the stronger and denser the bone. Always keep in mind the location of the bone and if it’s weight-bearing. The species of the animal can help determine how strong the bone will be. Also, consider where the product is sourced from and how it’s handled and packaged.

Keep in mind that these animals are not slaughtered for pet consumption. These are animals intended for human consumption. The bones and chews sold as pet treats are by-products of the livestock industry focused on meat for human consumption.

Slow Roasted vs. Smoked Bones

With slow roasted bones, the cook time is about 26-48 hours. Smoked bones are cooked for approximately 48-70 hours. Slow roasted bones have a meaty flavor while smoked bones have a smoked flavor based on the type of chips used in the smokehouse.

Smoked bones will last longer due to the slower, lower temperature cooking process.

Overall, dogs tend to enjoy both varieties because they are meaty bones with delicious marrow.

Frozen Raw Bones

FDA has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to pathogens. Primal Pet Foods uses High-Pressure Processing to kill off pathogens. This is the key difference between bones you might get at a butcher shop. Pet frozen bone manufacturers test these bones before they leave the facility, so keep this in mind if you’re weary of raw bones.

Raw bones are the most durable bones because they haven’t been cooked. They contain active enzymes that help break up and kill bad bacteria in gums. The bone, cartilage, and marrow are a source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, collagen, and glucosamine.

Also be sure to wash your hands after touching the raw bone. Make sure the bones do not thaw prior to feeding, and clean surfaces after feeding.

Filled Bones

Femur of tibia bone is cleaned, boiled, and then sanitized and sterilized. Then, they are cut to size and filled with a variety of fillings to keep your pup entertained for longer. You can refill these too! Just make sure you are using a pet appropriate peanut butter and NOT one from your pantry. Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in some peanut butters, is toxic to dogs. It can cause low blood sugar, seizures, and liver failure.


Antlers are naturally shed annually in the spring due to a hormonal change. The grading scale for antlers determines the freshness. Grade A antlers are the freshest, free of cracks and contain the highest moisture.

Antlers are not messy and have little to no odor. They are long lasting, and split antlers are a great option for puppies, seniors, and first-time antler chewers.



A white golden retriever enjoys gnawing on a rawhide bone in the floor.

Rawhide is any untanned animal skin. Rawhide chews are a by-product of the leather industry. Rawhide chews are made from cow hides that are formed into shapes and dehydrated.

Not all rawhides are created equal! High quality rawhides are cleaned in a peroxide bath and thoroughly rinsed with water prior to beginning the manufacturing process.

When a rawhide is soaked and unrolled, it should be one, single sheet. If you see scrap pieces, these are choking hazards and can indicate lower quality rawhide.

Bully Sticks

Bully sticks are penis that has been stretched, roasted, and cut to size. They are a single-ingredient, high protein, and long-lasting chew. They come in a variety of shapes such as sticks, rings, braids, bites and more.

There are no splintering concerns with bully sticks, but they are high in calories and typically don’t last as long as bones.

Esophagus & Trachea

The esophagus is a medium fast chew while the trachea is a crunchy, fast chew. Both are rich in Omega 3’s, high in protein, and low in fat.

Yak Chews

Yak chews are made of yak milk, cow milk, lime and salt. They are cured using an authentic recipe created by the Tibetan Monks. They are made in the Himalayan region of Nepal. Yak chews are medium to long-lasting and make no mess, stains, or odor.

Always Remember

Not every bone or chew is for every dog. Always check the label for safety tips and intended use statements. Is the chew not appropriate for large or small dogs? Always read the label before giving your pet a chew.

Q and A in word bubbles

Evanthia Martin’s Responses to Unanswered Questions from Class

Even though cheek rolls ARE rawhide, are they at least more digestible?

Cheek rolls are normally a heavier, thicker chew.

What is the reason for the Ross Taylor bullies? They’re stinky.

Yes, they are a little stinkier, but some dogs love that!  They are also generally larger in size (longer chew time) and are USA sourced and made.

What’s the difference between Benebone and Nylabone?

Nylabone is made in the USA and many are made in China. Nylabone doesn’t list all ingredients they use. Some products that do list them show they contain ingredients such as potato starch, vegetable glycerin, gelatin, natural flavors, red beef powder (for color), calcium carbonate, powdered cellulose, lecithin, beef flavor. Benebones are made with USA-sourced nylon and flavored with USA-sourced ingredients – real peanuts, chicken, pork, fish, beef or maple wood. No other added ingredients.

Does Tucker’s use the HPP process for their raw bones?

They do not HPP bones. They arrive at Tucker’s with a negative COA and are test and hold after processed to length and package before released to ship.

Are the yak chews made from pasteurized or raw yak and cow milk?

Tibetan Dog Chews are 100% Natural Cheese! Yes, you heard it right, it is 100% Natural Cheese. Tibetan Dog Chews are made in the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet from Yak milk and Cow milk. It is a kind of Gruyère cheese made using the centuries old authentic recipe created by the Tibetan Monks.

How do the bully crunchers compare to bully sticks in calorie content?

Bully sticks are 20% less in Calories per KG and are at 276.2 calories per 100 grams whereas Bully Crunchers are around 331.44 calories per 100 grams.


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