Dr. Debbie Barton, a Spokane veterinarian who also works at WSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, is answering this week's question.

Dr. Debbie Barton, a Spokane veterinarian who also works at WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, is answering this week’s question.

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Question: Dogs can chew the darnedest things, especially when they are pups. There are many alternatives out there, — i.e., Greenies, Nylabone├é┬«, soup bones, pig’s ears, bully sticks, rawhide chews — but we’ve also heard horror stories about their use. They’re dangerous, deadly in fact. They smell. They can get caught in a dog’s throat or intestinal tract. They’re messy. What can dog owners safely give pets to chew? Which products should they steer clear of? What are good alternatives specifically for teething dogs or young animals?

Answer: The following guidelines are designed to help you make good decisions regarding chew-toy safety for your puppies and adult dogs.

Because each pet is an individual with unique needs and behaviors, there is no one toy or routine appropriate for all. Supervision and good judgment in toy selection are the keys. Your veterinarian is there to help you make these choices and answer any questions to help keep your pet safe and healthy.

– Chewing, in general, is a natural and satisfying activity for most dogs. The buildup of dental plaque and tartar can be decreased (not eliminated), energy can be constructively vented and attention can be diverted from more destructive activities.