Monday, June 22, 2009
By Ruthie Bently
I recently bought Skye a sterilized natural bone, and she was in her yard chewing on it when a friend came over. He asked me how old Skye was and I replied that she would be four this summer. That surprised him, because she was still chewing. After all she had all her permanent teeth, so he wanted to know why she was still chewing. As he had never owned a dog and wanted to understand, I explained that it doesn’t matter how old a dog is; they never stop chewing.
Dogs never stop chewing. Sounds funny doesn’t it? But the truth is that while dogs stop teething, they never stop chewing. This should come as no surprise to anyone who owns any dog that is used for hunting or retrieving, as they are very oral by nature. Most Retriever and Terrier owners I know have a good supply of nylon bones or chewies to keep their four legged kids busy.
Dogs’ teeth are not visible when they are born, and 28 puppy teeth begin coming in between three to six weeks of age. This is when a puppy begins to chew. They start losing their puppy teeth by the age of thirteen weeks. Dogs’ adult teeth (they have 42) begin coming in between the age of two and seven months. So you could see some heavy duty chewing between the ages of three weeks to seven months. The chewing will slow down as they get older, but it never stops completely.
Dogs can’t pick up things with their paws the way we do with our hands, so they use their mouths to taste and test the things they pick up. They are curious, so it doesn’t matter if it is the TV remote, a cell phone, glasses or a shoe on the floor; they have to check it out. Chewing helps remove plaque from your dog’s teeth, and is a good addition to brushing your dog’s teeth regularly. So if you have a good supply of nylon bones, sterilized natural bones and other chewies you can keep your dog (and yourself) happy, as they won’t be looking for things that they shouldn’t be chewing and that could be dangerous for them.
I have observed that dogs will work out frustrations when they are chewing. When Skye can’t find a favorite chew toy, she will go after a “non-approved” dog toy. That usually means a plastic drink bottle or cottage cheese container; though it has included wood logs and shoes. She takes the plastic out of the recycle bin and the wood out of the wood box because she can reach them. I would rather that she picked a dog toy, but she just wants something in her mouth and is too lazy to go looking for a real toy. She has a toy box outside and one inside as well, so it isn’t like she can’t find anything to suit her. Skye knows that it’s not a dog approved item, so she could be doing it for the attention factor as well. All I know is that Skye needs to chew.
One way to help your own canine chewer is to have duplicate chewing toys around the house in different rooms, as well as some toys that are designated outside chewing toys. An outside chewing toy would be one that you would not want leaving grease on your leather sofa, or that may get sticky during chewing and leave gooey bits around the house that are difficult to clean up.
Remember, our dogs are like children in that they should not be left alone with any toy no matter how safe you think they might be. You should always supervise your dog with any toy that you choose to allow them to have. By carefully supervising the toys your dog chews, you shouldn’t have the same issues that we have had with Skye and hopefully you can learn from our mistakes. As they say: “forewarned is forearmed.”
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently