From the time you brought your dog home, their love of chewing was hard to ignore. From buying copious amounts of toys to closing the bedroom door, adjustments had to be made to ensure a safe and productive environment for your dog to chew. The fact that chewing is instinctual is obvious, but what may be less obvious is what chewing actually does for your dog. Follow along while we outline 4 benefits of chewing.
#1 Promotes Dental Health
Dental disease is an increasingly common problem among dogs. Symptoms can range from an accumulation of saliva, food, and bacteria called plaque on the surface of teeth, all the way to abscesses and broken teeth. While brushing your dog’s teeth may still be necessary, having access to appropriate chewing toys can be a much more enjoyable way for your pet to maintain their oral health between dental visits.
#2 Stress and Anxiety Relief
Even some of the happiest and best cared for dogs in the world experience stress or anxiety. Sometimes, the causes can be unknown. Other times the trigger is known and just unavoidable, such as trips to the vet. While chewing is fun for dogs, it physically helps them relieve stress and anxiety from their bodies. The act of chewing has a comforting and calming effect on your dog’s brain, specifically the adrenal-pituitary axis. Chewing triggers the release of endorphins that helps regulate and reduce potentially negative emotions.
#3 Stimulates Tooth Growth in Puppies
Teething can be a nasty business. It can be painful and irritating. Having appropriate chews available for your puppy while they are teething can provide some much needed relief to their sore gums. Having a variety of fun and delicious options to choose from, your puppy will be less likely to choose inappropriate chew toys, like shoes and furniture. While the chewing feels good for the puppy, it also helps their adult teeth come in. By stimulating the gums, chewing can really help ease your puppies transition into adult teeth.
#4 Mental Stimulation and Exercise
When thinking of a way to give your dog a workout and tire them out, you may not think of chewing, but you should!! Chewing burns your dog’s energy and mentally stimulates them through the amount of focus and effort required to chew. This focus aspect is especially true if they are chewing to gain access to something yummy. Chewing allows dogs to let out any pent up energy or frustration. Dogs that bark excessively can often benefit from a good chew, because it releases the anxiety and energy they are trying to expel through barking. Chewing gives your dog’s brain and jaw a good workout as they work to hold and effectively chew the item they have. Chewing is a hardwired behaviour, so as with any enrichment, chewing is most rewarding because it satisfies a genetic urge.
In conclusion, chewing is a natural and vital part of a physically and mentally healthy dog. While some dogs urge to chew lessens with age, that doesn’t mean we should stop providing appropriate choices if the mood does strike. Chewing makes our dog feel good, and who wouldn’t want that for our best friend?