What better place for us to go to for something suitable for Archie to chew than to the pet shop?
To quote The Science Dog, ‘A dog person cannot walk into a pet supply store (or their own grocery store, for that matter) without noticing the explosion in the number of dog chews, dental devices and edible bones that are available for sale today. Some of these are biscuit or extruded concoctions containing a mixture of ingredients, while others originate from cow skin (rawhide chews) or are the left-over body parts of a hapless food animal (pig/lamb ears, hooves, and bully sticks)’.
How digestible are they? To quote The Science Dog again, ‘If the dog is able to bite off large chunks or swallow an entire chew at once, that piece has the potential to cause digestive upset, impede normal gut motility, or in the worse case scenario, cause obstruction if it is not dissolved and digested as it moves along’.
A team of researchers at the University of Illinois compared the digestibility (not nutrition which is minimal) of different types of dog chews. It seems that:
Rawhide chews made from cow skin were very poorly digested and consuming large pieces could increase a dog’s risk for intestinal blockage.
Pork skin chew’s digestibility was significantly greater than that of beef rawhide chew – so it’s worth looking out for pork rawhide which appears to aid digestion in general.
This bring me to dental chews.
Pedigree DENTAStix is an example of ‘extruded concoction’. I call it the ‘DENTAStix con’. Most people, taken in by the clever advertising, would be horrified to find that what they are feeding their dogs with a view to keeping their teeth healthy contain mostly rubbish – some of it harmful rubbish.
- Rice flour: Cheap filler, causes bowel distress and can lead to diabetes in dogs.
- Wheat starch: Poor carbohydrate source causes allergies
- Glycerin: Sweetens food, used as humectant (keeps food moist), interferes with nutrient assimilation.
- Calcium carbonate: Standard source of calcium, promotes strong bones, teeth, cardiovascular health and skeletal strength, used as a buffer to acidic foods
- Gelatin: Filler / binder in can food
- Gum arabic: Cheap filler/binder used in can foods.
- Cellulose Powder:Suspected to include recycled cardboard.
- Natural poultry flavor: Poor quality of flavor additive.
- Sodium tripolyphosphate: Used as rancid meat preservative.
- Salt: Used to cover up rancid meat and fat, can cause kidney and heart disease, hypertension — used to encourage cats to drink, source of sodium chloride.
I myself go to the butcher for nice marrow bones for my dogs or a raw chicken carcass for them to chew. I avoid cooked bones – even those from reputable pet shops. I had five large dogs with the runs one Christmas after they were each given a present of a cooked bone bought from Pets at Home.