Celebrated veterinarian Dr Marty Becker has a good rule of thumb when it comes to choosing chews for your dog: whack your knee with it and, if it hurts, then the chew is too hard.
So a pig’s ear is okay.
But a deer antler isn’t.
Beef tendons – okay.
Knuckle bones – not so much.
And add to the rule, never – EVER, rawhide. These treats often come from dubious sources with a risk of poisoning on top of the very real risk associated with intestinal blockages and choking.
Many of these recommendations contradict long-standing traditions in terms of dog chews. Knuckle bones and rawhide were regularly given to my dogs when I was growing up.
We now have a greater body of evidence about dental health care in our dogs. Fractured and rotting teeth often result from chewing on items that are excessively hard and unforgiving.
With all treats, it pays to read the label for country of origin labeling and ensure you are buying from a trustworthy source.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand