The Do's and Don'ts of Bones and Hard Chews

The Do's and Don'ts of Bones and Hard Chews

Bones and hard chews--like those in our Pet Deli--are fun, tasty, and great for mental stimulation and dental health. Here are our tips for keeping chew time safe and fun.


On top of being a tasty treat for your pooch, there are health benefits to bones and hard chews:

  • Help improve dental health- scrape away plaque, control tartar buildup, maintain gum health
  • Provide stimulating activity
  • Satisfy your dog’s innate urge to gnaw
  • Relieve puppy teething pains 

Choosing the Right Chew

There are a few factors to consider when picking out a bone or hard chew for your dog:

Puppy chew safety


  • Puppies (up to 1 year, up to 2 years for large breeds)
    • Stay away from hard chews such as antlers, water buffalo horns, hooves, etc. until all puppy teeth have been replaced with adult teeth.
    • If puppy is new to the family and you don’t know what kind of chewer she may be, start with softer items like bully sticks and wholesome hides.
    • Always observe new puppies with new chews. Keep an eye out for things like: Do they shove the chew to the back of their mouth? Are they extremely aggressive chewers? Do they try to swallow large portion or do they whittle them down? This will help determine what kinds of chews to buy in the future.
  • Seniors (approx. +7 years for large breeds, +9 years for medium to small breeds)
    • Like humans, senior dogs can suffer from brittle teeth, or teeth that are simply worn due to life-long use. 
    • Keep tabs on your pet's dental health and switch to softer chews like tendons or bully sticks when your pup enters his golden years.


Dogs Hard Bones

    • Make sure the size of the bone is appropriate for the size of the dog. The whole bone should not fit inside the dog’s mouth.
    • Medium, large, and giant breed dogs should always have bones that are made to bear heavy weight. This includes cut femurs, jumbos, and knuckles.
    • Things like pork, lamb, and chicken bones are far too brittle and small for larger dogs, as they may easily be swallowed and cause a blockage.

    Chewing Power

      • If your dog is an aggressive chewer, steer clear of antlers and water buffalo horns, as these can be hard on the teeth--especially for these power chewers. Even though you'll have to purchase more often, bully sticks are a better option than a painful, costly cracked tooth.
      • The back teeth are more brittle than the front. If Fido likes to stick chews in the back of his mouth and go to town, don’t use harder items.

      Basic Recommendations

      • Always monitor chew time. Take away any pieces that become too small and may pose a choking hazard.
      • Know when the bone is 'finished.' The goal of bone feeding is to gnaw off any soft tissue, such as marrow or tendon, NOT to consume the entire bone. After your pet has gnawed off all the good stuff, trade your pet a favorite toy in exchange for the bone and toss it.
      • Limit chew time; we suggest less than an hour. Your pooch should never have free access to their chews.
      • Rotate chews to keep pup from getting bored. Keep a cookie jar full of partially chewed bully sticks, moo tubes, etc. and pull different ones out every time it’s time to chew.
      • Soak antlers in beef bone broth or fish stock a couple of times a week to keep pups interested.
      • Bones and hard chews--antlers in particular--are NOT recommended for dogs with weak or sensitive teeth, or those that are powerful, destructive, aggressive chewers that like to 'go for the kill.' Stick with items that are no harder than a Kong.

      No matter which bone is best for your individual pet, you can rest easy knowing that all of our chews are natural, made in the USA, and never treated with artificial preservatives or bleaches.

      What is your dog's favorite chew? Let us know in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page!

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