Many dogs are avid chewers, and finding a chew that will keep your dog busy for a long time and that he will love is almost impossible. These chews all serve important purposes: helping with dental health, keeping your dog busy chewing, supplying natural minerals for bone and joint health and more.
Each chew has a rating based on whether it's natural, how tough it is, how tasty it is, and an overall rating. There are also some suggestions to help your long-lasting dog chews last even longer.
Keep in mind that all chews could potentially be a choking or obstruction hazard, and pets should always be monitored while enjoying them.
Here are the best Long-Lasting Dog Chews:
1. Bully Sticks
Bully sticks, or pizzle sticks, are a delicious, nutritious chew that lasts longer than most. And dogs love their natural flavour. You may not want to know what bully sticks are, but feel assured that they have a high protein content, are low-fat, and contain no carbohydrates or grains.
While bully sticks can be a healthy long-lasting chew for your dog at 9-22 calories per inch (88kcal for an average chew), too much can still make your pet pack on the pounds. As with any treat, you should feed your dog a little bit less food, taking into account that treats add calories. Limit bully sticks to one per day, remembering also that all treats should never make up more than 10% of your dog's daily calories.
Most bully sticks have a certain smell to them and can be messy, but there are many varieties you can buy – even stink-free!
Homes Alive Recommends: Eldon's Free-Range Odourless Bully Sticks
2. Beef Kneecaps
Beef kneecaps are meaty bones that contain a lot of cartilage, which is perfect for busy chewers. The natural meat flavour keeps your dog interested for longer. Since they are made of cartilage and bone, they can last a lot longer than many natural chews for dogs. The cartilage is great for maintaining your dog's own joints and bones.
These tasty chews can be messy though, so you might want to feed them to your dog outside or on a washable surface. Also, as with other natural chews, beef kneecaps can get smelly.
This type of bone is generally smoked, which is a form of cooking. Cooked bones in any format can be brittle and even splinter as your dog chews. Round, solid bones, like kneecaps, are less likely to splinter or fracture in ways that can harm your dog, but caution should always be taken.
Monitor your dog at all times and remove the bone if large or sharp pieces are coming off of it. Dogs with sensitive digestion should avoid cooked bones, as even small pieces can cause irritation.
Homes Alive Recommends: ValuePack Tartar Bones
3. Lamb Horns
This type of chew is one of the newest to the natural chew category, but it has been very popular so far. Horns are very hard and have a very low risk of splintering, but they do not have the same risk as antlers and bones of damaging teeth, so they are safe to feed to puppies and seniors.
They can be found with marrow, or with the marrow removed, allowing you to stuff the horn with dog-safe peanut butter and other treats. Marrow is high in fat, so if you are treating a dog with weight issues, avoid lamb horns with marrow. The horns themselves are very high in protein and can compliment any meat-rich diet.
Dental health can be greatly improved with lamb horns. The fibres of the horn break down as your dog chews and will act like floss, cleaning in between teeth and around the gum line.
Horns come in a variety of sizes, so always choose the size that is appropriate for your dog. Never leave your dog unattended with a natural chew, as there is always a risk of choking.
Homes Alive Recommends: Icelandic Lamb Horns
4. Elk Antler
Elk antler gets our top prize for longest lasting natural dog chew. If your dog just can't get enough to chew, go for an elk antler. Since it is unlikely to splinter like a bone, it is ideal for very aggressive chewers.
Chock-full of natural minerals, these renewable chews (elk shed them every year) are a top choice for all chewers. The chondroitin sulfate found in elk antler is particularly beneficial for your dog's bone and joint health and is often an important component of joint health supplements. While it’s not the most flavourful chew, elk antlers won't stain or smell like other natural chews and they are generally more interesting to dogs than synthetic chews.
While the marrow in elk antlers can be higher in calories, your dog won't be eating the whole chew in one sitting, so there should be no cause for concern.
When you are choosing elk antler, quality matters. Cheaper elk antler can splinter easily and split, which makes it hazardous to your dog. As with any chew, take it away from your dog when it gets to be small enough to swallow.
Because of how tough this chew is, there is a risk that your dog can damage their teeth as they chew. Avoid feeding elk antlers to puppies, seniors, and dogs with compromised dental health.
Tips for getting your dog interested in elk antler:
- File the antler slightly or rub sandpaper on it to freshen the scent
- Rub a bit of peanut butter on the antler (this could get messy!)
- Soak the antler overnight before giving to your dog.
Homes Alive Recommends: Puppy Love Elk Antler
5. Raw Bones
Raw bones are hands down the safest way to feed bones to your dog. Cooked bones become brittle and have a high risk of cracking and splintering, which can be very harmful to your pet. A raw bone is softer, and dogs are able to chew off small pieces of the bone to properly digest it.
Raw bones can benefit your dog's dental health, safely, and provide essential minerals like calcium and phosphorus that their bodies need to maintain and support skeletal structure and organ function.
There are many options to choose from, but always pick a bone that is appropriately sized for your pet. Different animals produce different sized and shaped bones, so the large bones of a cow may be suitable for a big dog, but a smaller breed may need to scale down to lamb bones.
Different animal bones have different toughness too. That's why some bones are considered edible, and other recreational. Edible bones include poultry necks and backs, while recreational bones, like most beef bones, are meant for chewing but not eating. Avoid dense weight bearing bones as they can damage our pets teeth.
Some types of poultry bones, raw or cooked, can easily splinter and should always be avoided. While poultry bones are highest in calcium, only bones that are cartilaginous should ever be fed to your pet. Only raw necks, backs, feet, and wing tips are safe.
6. Beef Ribs
Beef ribs are another natural dog chew that is perfect for dogs that love to chew, or just need a distraction. They still have plenty of beef flavour, but not a lot of meaty parts for your dog to chew off like kneecaps do. In this way, beef ribs can last longer as a chew, but may not interest your dog for as long as something that has pieces to chew off.
The flat thin shape of rib bones makes them more likely to crack or splinter than rounder, thicker cooked bones will. These are not the best option for dogs with very powerful jaws like boxers, mastiff and bully breeds.
Always size your dogs chew appropriately. A chew that is too small can be swallowed, choked on, and do severe digestive damage. Rib bones should be too large to fit the whole chew in their mouth. The chew can always be taken away and given back another day, so your safer to offer a bone that is too big than one that is too small.
Homes Alive Recommends: ValuePack Beef Ribs
7. Beef Hooves
If you have a really big chewer, beef hooves are durable, natural, long-lasting chews that have another unique feature. With a natural cavity inside them, beef hooves can be filled with a stuffing for added enjoyment. Try peanut butter or Kong stuffing. Want the chew treat to last even longer? Freeze the stuffing inside your beef hooves!
Hooves do have sharp edges, and although that will be the first part your dog chews off, there is still a risk. You can file down the edges if you are uncomfortable with feeding this chew.
The biggest challenge with beef hooves is the smell. To say they reek is an understatement, and the smell gets worse as your dog starts to slobber all over it. This is one chew that is best to feed outside!
Homes Alive Recommends: ValuePack Beef Hooves
8. Rubber Chews
For dogs who love to chew all day, a chew that cannot be consumed makes sense for their health. Well-made rubber dog chews also tend to last a lot longer than most consumable chews, and are still a reasonable price. If you buy a good-quality rubber chew, your dog will likely get the most chew for your money.
If you're looking for natural, look for unique, sustainable sources of rubber, like rice husk rubber.
Kong, one of the top brands for rubber dog toys, has a wide variety of dog-tested chews, even Kong Extreme for the toughest chewers. Kong also has special treats, consumable chews, and stuffing that can be used with their chew toys, making them more enticing for dogs. A new flavour can be just what it takes to revive an old toy into a favourite again.
The downside to rubber chews is that some dogs just don't like them. Rubber has a strong smell and a different texture, so if your dog is picky, he just may not pick it up.
Homes Alive Recommends: Kong Dog Toys
9. Nylon Chews
Nylon chews are an excellent long-lasting dog chew choice as they are very durable. Nylon chews often come in different textures and shapes and with special flavours to interest your dog. They can even help clean your dog's teeth. Flavoured nylon bones make good chews for overweight dogs.
Scented, yummy-tasting varieties keep your dog interested longer than plain nylon. Tasty Bone infuses natural flavours throughout the entire toy, unlike most brands that just coat the nylon toy. This will keep your dog interested for longer.
Like any chew toy, they are not edible. Very small pieces can be swallowed and passed safely, but these toys should never be consumed. Never leave your dog unattended with a nylon chew, and inspect the toy regularly for damage.
Homes Alive recommends: Tastybone
10. Yak Cheese (Himalayan Dog Chews)
Yak cheese is a hard, natural product that many dogs find extremely tasty. Non-staining and odour-free, it makes an excellent natural chew choice for any dog. Low-fat and more digestible than rawhide, bones, or antlers, yak cheese is irresistible to most dogs.
As with any natural chew, always monitor your pet with it and remove it if the chew is small enough that your pet could swallow it whole. Also, watch how much yak cheese you give your dog. While yak cheese is low in fat, it is high in calories.
If the yak cheese chew gets too small for your pet to safely chew on, you can microwave it on high-power for 45 – 75 seconds, let it cool for 2 minutes and give it to your dog as a crunchy, puffy cheese treat.
Homes Alive Recommends: Himalayan Dog Chews
11. Rope Chews
An inexpensive and universally loved chew and toy is the rope bone. These toys consist of cotton ropes generally braided into a bone shape. For a natural chew, look for 100% cotton fibres. As your dog's teeth rub on the fibres, plaque and bacteria that cause bad breath and gum inflammation are removed – just like “flossing” your dog's teeth. Dogs love chewing rope toys, but they'll love it when you play tug-of-war even more.
For teething puppies, rope toys can be soaked and frozen to help relieve some of the pain and discomfort from their teeth moving. This can, of course, get messy, so this is a great option for when your dog is in their kennel, outside, or on an easy to clean surface.
Thread from rope toys can shed as they chew. Small pieces won't harm your pet, but do your best to avoid letting your dog eat the rope toy. This can do damage to their intestinal tract.
Homes Alive Recommends: Flossies
Rawhide is the most widely known and one of the most affordable chews out there for dogs. Rawhide comes in an assortment of styles and is available in bleached, natural (and unbleached), pressed, puffed, rolled, knotted, braided, or even flavoured.
If you're looking for a rawhide that will last longer, pressed rawhide will be the toughest, but also poses the biggest risk. Multiple paper-thin sheets of rawhide are pressed firmly together, and no matter how much your dog chews, the sheets will still expand in their stomach. This can cause digestive issues, even blockages if large pieces are swallowed.
The safest form of rawhide is puffed rawhide. This rawhide is pre-soaked to expand the rawhide and reduce the amount of moisture that the rawhide can absorb in your dog's stomach. These may not last as long, but wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry? Another alternative is expanded pork skin. It is not pressed or chemically treated like rawhide and will digest much easier.
For your dog's safety and enjoyment, look for rawhides that are an appropriate size for your dog to chew. The entire chew should not be able to fit in your dog's mouth or be swallowed in its entirety, and your dog should be big enough to haul it around.
Regardless of the type of rawhide you feed, there is always a risk of poor digestion of this type of chew. Always monitor your pet to ensure proper chewing, and remove the chew if they are trying to swallow large pieces that could cause an intestinal blockage.
Homes Alive Recommends: Eldon's Free Range Rolled Rawhide
Tips for getting the most out of your long-lasting dog chews:
- Don't let your dog chew on one chew at one time for too long. They become soft as your dog chews and won't last as long.
- Buy quality chews. Quality chews use better ingredients – that goes for the natural chews, too. Quality can be hard to judge just by looking at a product. However, if the price seems too good to be true, or the chew doesn't hold up as long as others you've tried, chances are that low quality is to blame.
- Change up your dog's chews once in a while. Don't let your pet have access to their chews at all times. It's safest for your pet not to be able to have them unsupervised. Also, if you change up the chews that you offer to your pet, they will likely be more excited about them and their interest will last longer, though the chews may not technically last any longer.
- Carefully select the times when you give your dog a chew. Dog chews can be great dog-sitters when you need to get something done, but don't overdo it. If the times you give your dog a chew are special and don't happen all the time, your dog will be more interested in the chew and happily occupy themselves with it.
- Use incentives. If your dog just isn't that into a chew, there are usually some tricks you can implement to get him more interested. Rawhides can be soaked in meat broths and frozen. Elk antler can be filed to freshen scent.
- When trying out a new chew for your dog, let it be the only treat you feed her for a few days. Don't feed new chews when you are switching your pet's food or at any stressful time. This way, you can easily see if your pet has a reaction to the chew. Remember, it can be normal for your pet to have loose stools following a new food or chew, but these should clear up once your dog is used to the new treat.
- Always include chews in your dog's daily calorie intake. While some chews have negligible calories, and some have none at all (rubber), the calorie content of others can be quite high. For this reason, you should also limit the number of chews your pet has in one day. While many chews are healthy additions to your pet's diet, none are a replacement for a nutritionally complete food. Limit all treats to 10% of your pet's daily calories.
- Certain chews will take a lot longer for your dog to consume than others. For example, you can be sure that while elk antlers are 160kcal/100g, you can be sure that your dog will not be eating the entire chew in one sitting.
- Calories are not all considered equal. In addition to looking at your dog treat calorie content, also look at what types of calories they contain. Treats with high protein and moderate fat are healthier and will keep your dog full longer than treats that contain mostly carbohydrates such as many grain-heavy biscuits and chews.
- Choose an appropriate-sized chew for your dog for their safety and to make your chew last longer. Most chews have recommended sizes. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, always choose a larger size.
- Remove any hard chew if your dog is baring down on it trying to snap it in half. Very hard chews such as elk antler, yak cheese, and beef hooves can damage or even break dog teeth if chewed inappropriately. Gnawing is a gentler, safe way to enjoy hard dog chews.
- Always look at a chew before offering it to your dog. File sharp edges and never give your dog a piece small enough that he could swallow. Take any chew away that gets too small for your dog so that he does not choke.
- Always watch your dog. No chew is 100% safe. Always monitor your dog when she has a chew and never leave your dog alone with one. It's tempting to give your dog a chew when you are leaving them, but there are many risks that chews can pose to a dog, such as choking, splintering and perforating, ingestion of indigestible parts, and breaking of teeth. Don't let your inattention end in a trip to the vet's.
There are so many pet chews out there, they can be difficult to sift through for your dog. Find out what your dog needs uniquely, so that you can choose the best chew for your dog. Whether it's elk antler, yak cheese, or beef kneecaps, there's a chew out there for them.
Posted by Amy Dyck