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.

However, pet parents should always take a few simple precautions while their pet chews on any bones or hard chews to prevent choking or tooth fractures.

Here are our need-to-know tips for bones and hard chews: 

What is NOT a bone or hard chew?

Chew toys are products that your dog can chew on (go figure) but should NOT be consumed. Most of the time chew toys are made of items you don't want your dog to ingest, like plastic or rubber.

While we carry many alternative chew toy items (like our Beco Hemp Rope) that are swallow-safe, these are only meant for play. If you are looking for a high-value treat that your dog can both chew on and eat, a bone or "hard chew" is the way to go.


Why treat with bones & hard chews? 

Beagle Dog chewing on small Bully Stick Bone

On top of being a tasty treat for your pooch, here are the top 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 
  • Compostable, natural product


Pro Tip: Choose the Right Dog Chew

There are three factors that should guide your dog bone purchase: age, size, & chewing power.

Puppy chew safety


The age of your pupper will dictate how developed their teeth are. It's important to give your dog a bone that is specific to their age and teeth stage.

On many treat and bone packages, a chewing indicator will be present. This indicator lets you know if the bone or chew is hard, medium, or soft.

Puppies (up to 1 year, up to 2 years for large breeds)

CHEW LEVEL: Soft to Medium

Stay away from hard chews such as antlers, water buffalo horns, hooves, etc. until all puppy teeth have been replaced with adult teeth.

If a puppy is new to the family and you don’t know what kind of chewer they may be, start with softer treats like bully sticks and Nothin' To Hide rawhide bones.

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 portions or do they whittle them down?

This will help determine what kinds of chews to buy in the future.

Adult Dogs (2 - 7 years)

CHEW LEVEL: Medium to Hard

Now that your pup's teeth are fully developed you can venture into the "hard" bones stage and select a bone based on its size and chewing power.

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 heavyweight. This includes cut femurs, jumbos, and knuckles. Check those out here!
  • 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. Try beef, boar, buffalo, or elk.


Chewing Power

We recommend finding out your dog's chewing power early on. Although their age and size will change, their chewing style should stay the same.

Dog with Raw Bone

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 power chewers. Even though you'll have to purchase more often, bully sticks and Nothin' To Hide rawhide bones are a better option than a painful and costly cracked tooth.

The back teeth are more brittle than the front. So if Fido likes to stick chews in the back of his mouth and go to town, don’t use harder items as these will result in broken teeth. Try softer bones like a marrow or raw bones. These are healthy and easy-to-digest treats that won't splinter in your pup's mouth. You can find those bones in our raw, freezer section or right here!

If you have an occasional, light chewer, any of our cooked Pet Deli items like our crunchy duck heads. chicken feet, pig snouts, and femur/knuckle bones are great choices. These bones are a quick and easy treat that will satisfy your pup's daily chewing.


Safety Tips 

Dog eating a bone at home 1) Always monitor chew time. Take away any pieces that become too small and may pose a choking hazard.
2) 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.
3) Limit chew time; we suggest less than an hour. Your pooch should never have free access to their chews.
4) 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.
5) Soak antlers in bone broth or fish stock. Do this a couple of times a week to keep pups interested.
6) Be picky with your choice. 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.


    Ready to get some bones? 

    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.

    Bones Section in Tomlinson's Feed

    Tomlinson's is your go-to pet supply store for natural, healthy pet products in Austin and the Central Texas region.

    Visit our shop full of products sold through team members trained in animal nutrition. Pass by our stores with your adorable pet for some treat samples and loving ear rubs.

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