Dogs have an in built need to chew, it is a totally normal and natural behaviour. Chewing releases endorphins, which have a comforting and relaxing effect. It is a self rewarding behaviour that has many positive benefits, so should be encouraged. However if dogs aren’t given chewing opportunities or the right training, they will often help themselves to items to chew that may not be appropriate. Shoes, clothes and furniture seem to be a favourite!
We like natural chews for the added benefits to enrichment of taste, texture, aroma, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. There are a vast array of natural dog chews available, such as ears, feet, hooves, horn, cheese, tendons and skin. Some people (me included!) can be a bit squeamish about feeding their dogs body parts, so some have been disguised to make them more appealing to humans.
Many people now know about the problems associated with rawhide chews. The chemical processing involved in their production has been widely publicised and although they are still readily available, there is a consensus that they aren’t very safe for dogs. However what is lesser known, is that some other chews sold as ‘natural’ are also highly processed.
Take a look at puffed ears, pig snouts and chicken feet. Just looking at the picture can tell you that they aren’t totally natural- pigs snouts and chicken feet are not white! In order to make them more aesthetically pleasing for us humans, manufacturers take the raw natural ingredient and heavily process it. Sold widely as puffed, still called natural and with the added suggested benefit of puffed chews being lower in fat.
Is a small amount of fat actually a problem? There is hardly any fat in a chicken foot, they are mostly bone, skin and connective tissue- one of their main benefits outside being good to chew is they offer nutrients like glucosamine that are good for dog’s joints. Snouts have more fat than a chicken foot but actually have more protein than fat, the protein to fat ratio is high (Iske et al, 2018).
The puffing process can involve the following steps-
- Treating the animal by-product with lime and sulphuric acid
- Adding ammonium chloride to remove the lime
- Making the animal by-product alkaline by adding a salt and hydrochloric acid solution
- Rapid heat transfer at high temperatures to puff the chew
There are many other properly natural dog chews available, those processed with salts, acids and other chemical compounds don’t offer dogs any major benefits. They strip the chew of nutrients and when dogs are perfectly capable of eating a chicken foot raw, heavy processing is unnecessary. For those humans who can’t cope with raw chews, try air dried (not cooked) instead. Or for a puffed treat made without chemicals, cheese puffs are the small ends of yak milk chews simply microwaved.
Thank You For Reading
Natalie Bucklar, BSc (Hons), MSc is the owner of Pawsitive Thinking. We offer a tried and tested portfolio of products to help you with the training, care and enrichment of your much loved pets. SHOP HERE
Iske, Morris and Johnson (2018) Composition of eleven pig by-products, Animal Industry Report. Iowa State University.
US patents 2009, Hot air puffed pet treat and method of making.
Check out more of our blogs….
- Your Ultimate Guide To Natural Dog Chews
- Canine Arthritis Management- Improving & Extending Lives
- The Perils Of Puffed Dog Chews
- Veterinary Treatments Linked To Canine Behaviour Change
- Why Feed Chicken Grit?