Cleaner Paws is a mother-daughter run blog. Together we have over 40+ years of professional pet grooming experience and we hope to pass some of that on to our readers throughout our in-depth and non-bias reviews and buyers guides.
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This review guide was updated in February 2019.
Whether you like it or not a puppy is going to chew, it’s just something that a young dog does.
And boy do they love doing it!
Whether your puppy has just started teething or a leader of the pack chewing to keep their jaw muscles strong, all dogs have an innate need to chew.
Understanding how to manage a puppy’s chewing habits are part and parcel of being a dog owner and buying toys that are specifically designed to be chewed is an excellent way to aid your pets development.
Choosing The Right Puppy Chew Toy
Whether you shop for pet supplies online, at a large retailer or locally, you’ll find a considerable variety of chew toys available.
Having such a vast variety of toys often makes it difficult for a new owner to select the best toy for their puppy.
Puppy toys are a specialty item, so when purchasing the best toy for your young dog, you have to be selective.
Older dogs can play with toys of varying sizes and textures, but the best chew toys for puppies are those that are not small enough for them to swallow and not so large that the puppy is unable to wrap their mouth around them.
Puppies will play with almost anything, but at this stage of development, safety is still a concern.
Many of the chew toys you find in the aisles of big-box stores are way too hard for a puppy’s sensitive teeth, and it’s no surprise that many new puppy owners run into the problem of broken teeth after purchasing the wrong toy.
When looking for the best chew toy for your puppy, look for a plaything that can be squeezed with your hands.
These toys may not last as long as the harder chew toys, but you will save a significant amount of money by avoiding a doggy dental visit.
This also means you can start with a soft toy and work your way towards harder toys once you know your puppy, and their teeth can handle them.
As a puppy develops, so do their jaw muscles.
Features owners should look for when choosing toys for puppies
All dogs like to chew.
Simply stated they are naturally inclined towards this behavior. Young puppies have even more pronounced chewing urges. It is because chewing relieves the pressure caused by the new teeth’s breaking out and hurting the gums.
Therefore chewing toys are an important part of every puppy’s life.
Besides acting like potent pain reliefs, they keep the puppy entertained and provide mental and physical stimulation.
Because the chewing urge is strong, if you do not provide your puppy with chewing toys, it will definitely find something else to chew on.
When choosing the perfect toy for your puppy, there are several features you need to look for.
The toy for your teething puppy should be soft enough to provide relief, while strong enough to last. Soft toys provide the sensation and feeling of prey, thus keeping your puppy’s interest levels high.
On the other hand, unless the toy is strong, it will last only a couple of days or hours.
That way you will always be spending more and more money on toys. Keep in mind that if the toy is too hard, it may damage your puppy’s teeth. When choosing the right toy, you need to find good middle ground between softness and durability.
Not all the ingredients present in the toy are safe. Some elements
cause stomach upset and diarrhea while other components are potentially toxic.
For example, it is essential to choose a BPA free toy for your puppy. BPA is harmful chemical present in all cheap, plastic toys.
Recent studies show that BPA is toxic even if presented in extremely small quantities. Always read the toy’s label and look out for harmful ingredients.
Unfortunately, toy related hazards are quite common.
Many puppies die of choking or ingesting small fragments that broke off cheap or unsuitable toys. A suitable and safe toy must be shatterproof and made from a material that your puppy is unable to break into tiny pieces.
The perfect toy is made of one piece. Toys that have several pieces that can be easily detached must be avoided. You should also avoid toys with sharp and protruding parts.
It is important to select the appropriate size of toy for your puppy.
For example, if the toy is too big, the puppy will not be able to open its mouth wide enough to chew it, and the toy will be useless. On the other hand, if the toy is too small, the puppy may accidentally or not, swallow it. The swallowed toy is likely to cause intestinal blockage or damage the digestive system.
When determining the appropriate size of the toy, the best rule of thumb is: If the toy can fit down the opening of a roll of toilet paper – it is too small.
Never buy a puppy’s toy for an adult dog and the other way around. Puppy’s toys are for puppies, and adult dog’s toys are for adult dogs. In a nutshell, toys made for small and soft deciduous teeth are not the appropriate choice for a heavy chewer’s adult teeth.
Shape and texture
It is advisable to use toys with different shapes and textures. Every puppy has different preferences.
Some shapes and textures may be liked, while others may be disliked. If your puppy is not interested in the toy, you gave him, replace the toy with a completely different one.
Chewing something that tastes amazing is even better than merely chewing.
If you go for a tasty chewing toy, you can choose between an edible toy and a toy that can be stuffed with treats. It is not recommended to use these toys on a daily basis. Keep them as something unique and use them on special occasions.
Keep in mind that just because something as sold as a dog toy, it does not mean it is safe. Before making the purchase analyze the toy and check if it fits the above-stated features.
Best and Worst Types of Chew Toys for Teething Puppies
With the plethora of teething toys on the market today, how do make the right choice? Here is a list of the best and worst toys for teething puppies.
Best toys for teething puppies:
- Hard rubber toys – These toys are perfect for teething dogs simply because they are almost impossible to destroy. The rubber toy is even more practical if it can be filled with water and then frizzed, thus adding a cooling element to soothe the puppy’s sore and irritated gums. When buying a rubber toy, make sure the rubber is durable non-toxic.
- Hard nylon toys – This group of toys is also practically indestructible. Nylon toys provide hours of chew time, thus keeping your puppy entertained and occupied. Thick rope toys. When it comes to toys made of ropes, quality is the key. If the quality of the toy is low, threads of the rope can be easily pulled and then swallowed.Rope toys are perfect for playing tug-of-war. However, this game is not recommended until your puppy is full-grown. Playing tug-of-war too rough can influence how your puppy’s new teeth grow in. Rope toys can be soaked in water and popped in the freezer overnight. This provides a cooling effect for the puppy’s gums.
- Treat Toys – These toys are not only good for the puppy’s teeth, but they are also interactive. Treat toys are the perfect positive reinforcement technique. Treat pod toys are usually made of non-toxic and durable rubber.
- Dental Chew Toys – These toys are designed to dissolve in contact with saliva, thus reducing the risks associated with swallowing on minimum.
Worst toys for teething puppies
- Toys and items with small and/or sharp metal parts like pins, springs, and batteries
- Toys with long strips, strings and/or fibers
Cooked bones can easily break into abrasive fragments that cause teeth fractures, damage the lining if the digestive tract or lead to intestinal blockages
- Chewies made of rawhide or large pieces of knots can cause intestinal obstructions if swallowed hole
- Soft toys with foamy stuffing
- Squeaky rubber toys because vigorous chewers can easily destroy the toy and swallow the squeaker
- Children’s toys (they are designed to meet certain standards that differ from the standards a puppy’s toy should meet. For example, puppy’s toys need to be chew-proof)
- Toys that look like household items (if you get your puppy a cute rubber slipper for chewing, chances are it will try to chew your slipper too)
- Your possessions (a puppy does not understand what is he allowed to chew on and what not. It cannot make the difference between its toys and your shoes. Put everything your puppy might find attractive to chew on, out of its reach).
Regardless of the type of toy you select for your puppy, it is of paramount importance to never leave it unsupervised during chew time. Once in a while, pick up your puppy’s toys and check them for damages. If your puppy has bitten off chunks of the toy or there are visibly loose fibers, throw the toy away and replace with a new one.
Entertaining your puppy
Puppies are intelligent creatures, originally bred to complete certain tasks. The fact that nowadays they are kept as companions rather than workers, is messing with their mojo and leaves them unmotivated.
According to dog psychologist Dr. Stanley Coren the most important stimuli for puppies include: exposure to exciting places and things; new, exciting experiences; frequent opportunities to learn things and solve problems and investigating and interacting with objects and the environment around them. If your puppy spends its time sitting in the house, all day, without any of the above-mentioned stimuli, he is very likely to get bored.
A bored puppy’s only limitation is its imagination – If you do not give him something to do, he will come up with self-employment ideas on his own.
Since those ideas almost always include mischievous behaviors such as loud, ear-aching excessive barking, chewing your shoes and clothes and demolishing your furniture, chances are you will not like them. Therefore, keeping your puppy mentally stimulated and out of troublesome activities is your responsibility.
Puppies require both physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis. The amount of stimulation depends on your puppy’s breed, age, personality, and health condition. As a concept, mental stimulation is not entirely new.
Although it was introduced many years ago, it was not properly embraced. The most obvious reason is that one can easily confuse mental with physical stimulation.
Physical activity tires your puppy’s body but leaves the mind even more energized. Mental activity tires both the body and the mind.
Inadequately mentally stimulated puppies show signs of dissatisfaction and unhappiness, which lead to destructive, restless, hyperactive and attention seeking behavior.
Those behaviors are an outlet for the puppy’s excess of energy.
Keeping your puppy entertained or tiring him can be quite a challenge, especially when outdoor activities are not an option because your puppy’s vaccination schedule is not yet finished.
In such cases, you are your puppy’s main source of entertainment.
More often than not, coming up with ideas on how to keep your puppy busy is more exhausting than actually doing it.
However, there are plenty of fun indoor activities you and your puppy can do together.
Here is a list of some games and activities that will keep your puppy’s mind and body engaged, while providing fun and amusement.
Here are a few games you can play to entertain your puppy:
Puzzle Toys, Treat Dispensing Toys and Work-to-Eat toys – Instead of giving your puppy a short-lasting bowl full of tasty kibble, provide him a toy that requires thinking and maneuvering to get the kibble out. A plethora of such toys are available on the market. They help your dog use his brain and stay mentally stimulated while eating. This way your puppy will get mentally tired without even noticing.
Play the Shell Game With Your Dog – The Shell Game is a simple problem-solving game. Let your puppy watch you placing a treat under one of three cups and then shuffle the cups around and encourage your dog to find the treat. Besides of mentally stimulating, this game helps your puppy work on his problem-solving skills.
Teach Your Puppy to Clean Up His Toys – Teaching your puppy to put his toys away in a container can be a lot of fun. Mastering new skills boost your puppy’s confidence and offers them more mental stimulation.
Hide and See -. Hide and Seek is a fun game that allows your dog to use his super sniffer and hunting/tracking instincts, at the same time.
At first, you should let your puppy see you hide some food around the room and let him find it. Once he gets the grip of the game, start hiding the food without him watching.
Over time, you can replace the food with a toy or even hide yourself.
Puppy Pamper Session – Spa treatments and pampering will stimulate your puppy and allow you to spend fun and quality time together.
Stretching and massaging your dog leads to improved circulation, a surge of released endorphins and reduced stiffness.
To massage your puppy, simply apply slight pressure with your hands on tension holding spots or spots your fur baby enjoys.
Learn some new tricks – There are lots of training books that describe how to teach your puppy to sit, stay, shake paws, spin or jump through hula hoops.
Just remember to reward your puppy with nice things such as dog biscuits, cooked chicken or cheese cubes, every time he learns something new.
Reinforcement-based training is a fun way of mentally stimulating your puppy.
Teach Your Puppy to Chase Bubble – Most puppies are fascinated by catching bubbles, and there is a wide selection of pet bubble making toys on the market.
However, you can use ordinary children bubble makers. At first, your puppy may be surprised, but once he realizes he can pop up the bubbles when he touches them, he will run and jump for them like crazy.
Alternative Chew Toys
If you are interested in other options to chew toys, there are a few, but they can beget pricey.
The most commonly used alternative to chew toys are made from dense edible rawhide.
These flavored playthings can last several days and often contain small pieces of chicken and vegetables.
In many cases, these kinds of toys are healthy alternatives to the commonly used rubber and plastic puppy chew toys, however, can work out more expensive in the long run as you will need to replace them once your dog is finished with it.
However, there are some safety considerations before purchasing rawhide chew toys for your puppy.
Not all rawhide chew toys are made for puppies.
Several types of rawhide chew toys contain hard bone which can damage and break your puppy’s teeth.
If your puppy is somehow able to chew through the bone, the bone can splinter and severely hurt your puppy which can cause a severe veterinary emergency.
Another chew toy alternative is a rubber chew toy infused with vitamins and minerals.
These kinds of chew toys last much longer than their rawhide counterparts but also come with the benefit of having a nutritional twist.
Although these kinds of puppy chew toys last longer than the rawhide puppy chew toys, they don’t last nearly as long as the best puppy chew toys made specifically for chewing.
Best Chew Toys for Puppies – Product Reviews
We reviewed the Nylabone rings with a teething Golden Retriever who was having trouble chewing any other toys because they were all too big for his mouth.
We’re happy to say the golden can’t get enough of this Ring Bone and the owner we recommended it to was over the moon, leading us to suggest this product to many other dog owners who visited our salon as well.
The toy fits perfectly in a dogs mouth, and the best part is you can use it as a play toy by dangling it and letting them jump up to grab it.
We found the toy sturdy enough for older dogs to play with as well.
We often caught the golden retriever keeping the Ring Bone for himself which I don’t mind at all; this is a sign they just don’t want to share their favorite toy after all!
The Ring Bone has very minor wear after a few months of use, and you will get your money’s worth for this purchase.
All breeds of dog will enjoy this toy, and for the asking price, it’s way worth it. I think this ring bone will last another few years!
CONTAINS REAL BACON! Buyer beware, your dog will struggle to find a toy he likes better than this one.
I have tried out more toys than I can count and I often see many dogs disregard other toys in favor of this one.
The toy is a perfect shape, allowing a dog to grab it in his mouth, and carry it around like a real dog bone, which you will find so cute at first.
The toy is also really durable. We trialed the product by taking it along with us to the park with a few other dog owners. Many of the other dogs (who are all much bigger than my young pup) played with this chew toy, and in over six months it has almost no chew marks or signs of damage.
I keep wondering what toy my big guy might like better, but I still haven’t found one!
I often worry about my dog tearing toys into chunks and getting a piece stuck in his throat, but this toy has stood the test of time so far and I have confidence that nothing will happen to my pup while playing with this toy.
We recommend this toy for owners whose dogs have already gone through many different chew toys, and who have concerns about choking hazards!
Perfect for big dogs as well.
Your dog will just love these chew bones, we’re sure of it.
If you have a larger dog that goes through chew toys quickly, this is a recommended purchase.
It took six months to finally whittle this bone down to a size that was just too small for my dog to continue chewing.
The chew toy is bacon flavored which many dogs seem to love, and while I purchased tons of other toys for him to play with while reviewing items for this guide, he seemed to prefer this one once he had worn the others out.
My Mom has gone through two of these in a year, but they are always worth the purchase because of the joy dogs get when chewing on them.
However, if you have a smaller dog, I wouldn’t recommend this chew toy as it is far too bulky and hard for a smaller dog to enjoy. This is for the big boys!
Oh, this chew toy also helps with their dental health which we have to say is fantastic.
I have noticed my dog’s teeth getting healthier and gums looking much better.
In fact, last time I went to the vet we needed to get his teeth deep cleaned but I don’t think we will have to do that in the future this toy looks like it’s taking care of it for us.
We found dog loves the shape of the Nylabone Wishbone.
This chew toy provides enough resistance for dog’s with a powerful bite while also being a comfortable shape for dogs to chew naturally.
If your dog has a powerful bite getting through chew toys can get a little bit expensive, but this chew toy will last several months if not years.
The best part is that your dog’s teeth will stay super clean because this toy works as a dental chew.
Similar to other Nylabone wishbone reviewed above, my Mom noticed her dog’s teeth are much healthier looking and also that breath doesn’t smell nearly as bad as it used to.
We had a recent vet visit, and the vet even mentioned how much better dental health has gotten.
When the vet asked my Mom how often she brushed the dog’s teeth, and she said she didn’t, he couldn’t believe it!
We just smiled and told him it’s the chew toy.
When she wears this toy out we’ll be sure to buy another one; it’s well worth the purchase price!
Looking for more puppy related products? Check out more Cleaner Paw guides below: