Features April 2012 Issue

Chewing Improves Your Dog’s Teeth and Gum Health

Many people think of chewing as “just a puppy thing” but the fact is, canines in the wild spend quite a bit of time every day chewing on bones, in order to extract every last calorie and mineral they need. Our dogs have a ready food supply, so they don’t have to spend every spare moment in pursuit of every last nutrient, but the chewing behavior is hard-wired in them, anyway. Encouraging the chewing habit by providing a steady supply of appropriate chew items can promote a dog’s mental and emotional health.

Chewing Improves Your Dog’s Teeth

Chewing also helps keep the teeth and gums clean and strong, and encourages the flow of cleansing, antibacterial saliva through the dog’s mouth.

Pups who are given the private space and leisure time to chew on a raw, meaty bone or food-stuffed toys will quickly develop the habit of spending time by themselves, chewing contentedly – and are less likely to develop separation distress or anxiety.

When pups are raised from the earliest age with ample opportunity to chew on raw meaty bones, most learn to take their time and chew in a casual manner, without damaging their teeth or bolting down over-large bone fragments. There are always outliers, however – dogs who, despite being raised with a ready supply of raw meaty bones, chew so aggressively that they are in danger of breaking teeth or swallowing dangerous chunks of bone. (The behavior is far more common, though, in dogs who were denied the pleasure of bones early in life.) If your dog is an aggressive chewer or greedily bolts any fragment of bone he can break off, he should be given a safer alternative to bones, such as a food-stuffed rubber toy. This will allow him to experience the zoned-out bliss of chewing and licking bits of food out of a safe facsimile of his hereditary chew item.

For more on chewing, see these other WDJ stories:

"Choosing the Right Chew for Your Dog," May 2003

"Take Control of Puppy Chewing," March 2016

"How to Stop Your Dog from Chewing All Your Shoes," May 2009

Comments (4)

That dog is a German descendant. If it is anything like my full breed German Drahthaar the nails can NOT be trimmed too much or you will be going into the quick of the nail. Not all dogs are alike and these dogs were once bred to dig, climb and kill so they need strong, long nails. Just to take any other comments off the nails of this pup. LOL

Posted by: steinc | August 8, 2014 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Some dogs' toenails just grow that long, no matter how often you trim them. You cannot tell from a picture how overgrown (or not) that dog's toenails are.

Posted by: Julia M | December 2, 2013 5:41 PM    Report this comment

While it is a good article about teeth and the value of chewing, I too could not take my eyes off the nails on that poor dog!

For being a journal that promotes healthy living for dogs, showing a picture of a dog with such long nails is in poor taste and not considered "healthy" at all.

Might want to start screening pictures that are used.

Posted by: Therapy Dog Mom | December 2, 2013 8:54 AM    Report this comment

I could not take my eyes off of that poor dogs nails! Please trim that dogs nails!

Posted by: victoryusa | November 30, 2013 3:03 PM    Report this comment

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