Puppies are sweet, cuddly, happy, and challenging! Anyone who has experienced puppy teething knows the pain of chewed up shoes, rugs, furniture . . . it’s brutal. It’s the reason you desperately Googled “best teething toys for puppies” and are reading this article.
Finding the best chew toys for puppies takes time. First, you need to make sure the toy is safe. Many dog toys are not meant to be chew toys. Others come apart easily because of poor quality manufacturing.
Second, you need to find a toy that captures your dog’s attention. Each dog is different and will gravitate to different toys. And some toys are a lot more interesting and engaging than others.
Puppies stop teething eventually (thank goodness) but some dogs continue to be “chewers” into adulthood. The chew toys in this article will help both puppies and dogs. They will prevent chewing on inappropriate items, and also provide mental exercise for your dog or puppy.
If you want toys to keep your dog mentally busy, check out these mentally stimulating toys for dogs and read about canine enrichment activities. These toys and activities will help calm your dog, keep them out of trouble, and make your dog more content and well balanced.
When Do Puppies Stop Teething?
Puppy teething seems like it goes on forever. I can remember wondering if I would ever be able to leave shoes out again or relax and not have to worry when I couldn’t find my puppy (i.e. the quiet content puppy must be chewing some new inappropriate item).
Most puppies should be done teething by about 6 months of age, when all of their adult teeth have come in. This will vary a bit from dog to dog but is a good estimate. Until you hit that magical age, finding the best teething toys for puppies will help you survive.
What if my Dog is an Aggressive Chewer?
Some dogs chew more aggressively than others and can crack their teeth on harder chew items like bones. I found an interesting article in Whole Dog Journal about the Benefits of Chewing for Tooth and Gum Health that made an interesting point:
“When pups are raised from the earliest age with ample opportunity to chew on raw meaty bones, most learn to take their time and chew in a casual manner, without damaging their teeth or bolting down over-large bone fragments.“
They go on to say that while this prevents most dogs from becoming aggressive chewers, there will still be outliers that chew too aggressively and to give those dogs tough rubber toys that are easier on the teeth.
Finding Safe Chew Toys for Puppies
Before we start talking about some of the best teething toys for puppies, it’s important for you to learn what toys can be dangerous if used as chew toys for dogs.
Dangerous Chew Toys to Avoid
- Rope toys can be fun for puppies to fetch but can be dangerous for them to chew. Broken strings can cause blockages if swallowed by your puppy, and longer strings can get caught as they pass through the digestive tract and actually cinch the intestines shut. Surgery is not uncommon, and death occurs if the blockage is not caught soon enough.
- Ice can wear down their tooth enamel and even fracture or break teeth.
- Disposable water bottles can be dangerous to dogs for a number of reasons. The caps can come off and choke the dog, and the dog can cut their gums on the sharp edges once the bottle starts to tear.
- Rawhides are dangerous for so many reasons. Large swallowed pieces can become stuck in the esophagus or the digestive tract, sometimes requiring surgical removal. They are also full of chemicals: they are bleached white using hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach, and have been found to contain chemicals such as lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, and formaldehyde.
- Pig ears can become gummy and pose a choking hazard once wet and chewed on.
- Cooked bones are never, ever safe for dogs or puppies. They can splinter and cause damage to the digestive tract – sometimes fatal damage.
- Nylabone I am not a fan of Nylabone. I know that some people use Nylabones (and similar products like Benebones) and have great luck. I have multiple reasons I don’t use them.
First, they are petroleum based. I don’t want my dogs chewing on a petroleum based product.
Second, parts of the bone break off sometimes. It happened with my dogs many years ago, and if you read the reviews you’ll see it happens to others as well.
Third, I dislike that Nylabone doesn’t openly share the material used to make their products. I looked on their packages, on their product webpages, and in the FAQ webpage, but I couldn’t find it.
When I called and asked customer support, they told me the toys are made from “non-toxic ingredients.” I pressed for the actual ingredients and was told the ingredients don’t have phthalates or BPA. But not what they were.
It makes me wonder when I can’t get a straight answer; I prefer companies like West Paw and Goughnuts that are very upfront about what materials their toys are made from.
Raw Bones and Antlers? I put this with a question mark because some dog owners use these safely, others with aggressive chewer do not. The biggest worry is that your dog will crack a tooth or break off a piece and swallow it. Using split antlers is best, the exposed marrow inside is softer on the dog’s teeth. For raw bones, if your dog is aggressive chewer either don’t give them at all or at a minimum take bones away once the marrow is gone. Better yet, opt for a rubber chew toy instead.
Best Chew Toys for Puppies and Dogs
Note: this post contains affiliate links. No one paid me to recommend these products, I recommend them because I like them! By using the link to buy the products you are helping support happyynaturaldog.com
Now that you know what chew toys to avoid, let’s talk about which chew toys are the best for teething puppies and dogs that like to chew.
Goughnuts Rubber Chew Toys
I don’t know how I haven’t discovered this toy until writing this article, but I just ordered one to try it out. Goughnuts are 100% natural rubber chew toys known for their ability to hold up to aggressive chewers.
I talked to Rick Rockwood, the company’s cofounder, and he openly shared information about natural rubber chew toys. Here is a sampling of what I learned:
- Natural rubber is a sustainable product harvested from the sap of rubber trees. Think of how maple syrup is harvested – same concept!
- Goughnuts rubber toys are much safer for your dog’s teeth and gums because the natural rubber has some “give” when chewed, but is strong enough to hold up to aggressive chewing.
- Thermoplastic polymers like Nylabone can dent when chewed, creating pointy shards that damage your dog’s gums.
- Goughnuts are guaranteed for life; they will replace your toy if it becomes damaged. They also donate chew toys to animal rescues.
West Paw Quizl Toy Filled With Bully Sticks
West Paw is a quality, ethical manufacturer located in Bozeman, Montana with an impressive mission:
- Sustainable ingredients are used whenever possible and product distribution uses sustainable logistics chains.
- Special manufacturing process keeps waste out of landfills, chemicals out of soil and water, and toxins out of their products
- Toys are made from recycled content and are 100% recyclable
- 100% designed and manufactured in the USA
- Toys are made from Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) which is BPA and phthalate-free, latex-free, and food grade.
- Company donates thousands of dollars each year to pet-friendly causes and employees volunteer in the community
West Paw Zogoflex Tux Filled with Kibble or Healthy Creamy Fillings
Dogs get their chewing need fulfilled while trying to extract treats from this toy.
Important:: If you put peanut butter in these toys, make sure your peanut butter doesn’t contain xylitol – it is poisonous and could kill your dog! Natural peanut butter with no added ingredients or sugars is best – look for products with only peanuts and salt on the ingredients list)
West Paw Rowdies
This product is not for aggressive chewers, but many reviews state the tough, reinforced HardyTex® fabric holds up amazingly well to normal chewing activity.
Example of West Paw Upfront Website Information About Toy Composition
This is the type of product information I like to see on company websites. It’s very up front about what is in their products and where they are made.
Gnawsome Squeaker Balls
Gnawsome is another impressive company.
- Produced from food-grade, BPA-free TPR (thermo-plasticized rubber)
- Company manufactures its products in the USA
- Company gives back by sending thousands of dollars ($75,000/year) of its products to local dog rescues
I would not give these balls to aggressive chewers, instead choose one of the more durable rubber toys like the Goughnuts or West Paw toys.
JW Pet Crinkle Ball
These balls are made from all-natural non-toxic rubber that stands up to heavy chewing. They’re small enough that a puppy would love it, but tough enough that my 55 lb golden retriever foster puppy couldn’t destroy it!
The holes make it easy for a puppy to grab and carry, and the crinkle sound makes them love it and keep playing with it.
Himalayan Dog Chews
EcoKind Himalayan Dog Chews are
- 100% Natural, Healthy & Safe for Dogs
- Made from 100% from Yak milk
- No artificial ingredients, chemicals, or preservatives.
- Free from gluten and lactose making them very gentle on sensitive stomachs.
Buying the Best Teething Toys for Puppies and Dogs is a Wise Investment
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As always, I learned some new information while researching this topic. Before I wrote this article, I had no idea that providing the best chew toys for teething puppies can actually help them not develop into aggressive chewers. What a great way to set your puppy up for success down the road!
Chew toys provide benefits for adults dogs too. Chewing keeps them mentally busy, which helps calm them. This in turn improves their behavior.
If you are looking for other ways to keep your dog busy, calm them down, or keep them out of trouble, check out this article about the best food toys for dogs.
Hopefully, you saw some chew toys in the list above that you think your dog will love and are on your way to a happy, contented puppy that stops chewing on your shoes.
Until next time-