What Can Puppies Chew On? (23 Objects & Food Items)
Puppies explore the world with their mouth. In practice, that means chewing.
There is a significant increase in chewing while teething, but puppies will chew almost anything at any time.
Plus, some puppies can keep that chewing behavior as adults when it is considerably less cute and more annoying.
How do you teach your puppy what and what not to chew?
Is Random Chewing Safe for Your Puppy?
Although it is normal for your puppy to chew, what it chews may be an issue for your puppy’s health and impact your lifestyle.
Furniture and expensive clothing can be a target of a determined chewer.
Your puppy may swallow some of what it chews, which may cause internal damage or be toxic.
Looking at some of the things around your house, you may find your puppy chewing on:
1. Paper Towel Rolls and Toilet Paper
From your puppy’s viewpoint, this soft squishy, rollable potential toy is fantastic, and it is easy to shred and tear off lumps.
Within seconds your pup is surrounded by a mound of slightly wet paper.
Unfortunately, that paper towel can form a nasty Papier Mâché blockage in your puppy’s tummy. Intestinal blockages are bad news, and you need a vet’s help to get everything flowing smoothly.
If your puppy takes used paper towels out of bins, it can fill up its stomach with non-food (leaving no hunger for puppy food) or ingest toxic cleaning materials.
Keep your paper towels, toilet rolls, and garbage bins out of your puppy’s reach.
If your puppy doesn’t get access to paper towels to chew, it will not develop this undesirable and potentially damaging habit.
2. Socks and Shoes
Socks and shoes are often at puppy level, and they smell like you.
Your puppy may develop an obsession with your feet and actively seek out your socks and shoes. Some puppies see them as a resource and horde them as assiduously as a dragon with treasure.
Chewing and swallowing any non-food items may result in gastric issues.
Plus, you don’t want the expense of replacing expensive footwear because your puppy got into your wardrobe.
Don’t give your puppy old socks and shoes to play with or chew on because your puppy can’t distinguish between allowed shoes and those out of bounds. Your puppy is smart, but allowing it to play with old socks gives mixed messages.
If you can’t lock your shoes and socks away from your puppy, then when the puppy is alone, lock the puppy into a safe puppy zone, either in a puppy-proofed room or a playpen.
3. Leather Products and Rawhide
Puppy safe chews are widely available, and rawhide is the material of choice in most cases.
Rawhide is a byproduct of leather making, and recycling it as a dog chew reduces waste. Although these are technically safe, always supervise your puppy with a rawhide chew.
When your puppy chews the rawhide, it becomes soft, and an overeager puppy may swallow large lumps. These lumps may cause blockages in the stomach and need vet assistance to remove.
Other potential issues with cheap rawhide chews include a failure to remove all the chemicals from the rawhide, resulting in an upset stomach in sensitive puppies.
Rawhide also has problems with bacteria; Salmonella is an issue in the US with rawhide chews. These bacteria can be problematic for you and your puppy.
If you treat your puppy to a rawhide chew, choose a reputable supplier.
Rawhide doesn’t class as food, and so avoids most health legislation. Reputable brands meet higher standards than cheaper ones.
Before six months, your puppy doesn’t have the teeth to cope with rawhide, and most vets recommend that you wait until your puppy is one year before encouraging the occasional use of these chewable treats.
Leather is processed animal hides and impregnated with finishes, dyes, and potentially harmful additives.
Generally, you don’t want your puppy to chew its collar, leash, or your best shoes.
Converting an animal hide to durable leather involves tannins (hence the phrase ‘to tan leather’), and tannin is toxic to your puppy and can cause liver and kidney damage.
In short, your puppy can chew appropriate rawhide chews as these are technically safe but may cause issues. Your puppy is not safe chewing leather products.
Your puppy follows you to the bathroom and manages to get hold of and chew your toothbrush.
Is there a problem?
A toothbrush can break into sharp fragments and may cut sensitive tissues, and bristles are a potential choking hazard. If the toothbrush has toothpaste ready for you to use, your puppy risks poisoning.
The components in human toothpaste that cause problems for your puppy are:
- Fluoride – you are supposed to rinse and spit, not swallow it.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – causes foaming and can cause gastric upset.
- Xylitol – provides a sweet taste but is toxic for your puppy.
If you brush your puppy’s teeth, use specially formulated dog toothpaste, and don’t let it chew the toothbrush.
Suppose your puppy gets hold of and chews your toothbrush and toothpaste – check to see if it shows signs of poisoning (lethargy, staggering, and excess drooling) and consult your vet.
The impact will depend on your puppy’s size, sensitivity, and age.
5. Blankets and Towels
If your puppy is teething, it may chew on available blankets and towels to stop the pain in its gums.
Some breeds (like dalmatians) are more prone to blanket chewing to relieve boredom. Other blanket mouthing and chewing may be from hunger, early weaning, or separation anxiety.
Chewing on blankets and towels is undesirable as a regular habit because your puppy may get fibers stuck in its teeth or get an intestinal blockage from swallowing parts of the blanket or towel.
When your puppy is teething, you can offer a frozen piece of toweling as a soothing chew toy, but this is under supervision and not the same as chewing on blankets and towels through boredom or separation anxiety.
You can discourage your puppy from inappropriate chewing by providing alternatives, dealing with anxiety, or investing in chew-proof blankets.
Alternatively, you can use a chew-stop spray to treat your current blankets.
6. Wooden Spoons
The wood in your wooden spoon depends on if it is a mass-produced kitchen spoon or a handcrafted spoon.
Most inexpensive kitchen spoons use pine as it is readily available and straightforward to shape. But you can get higher-grade spoons using maple or cherry wood.
Some wooden salad spoons may not be from a tree but bamboo (a giant grass).
Encouraging your puppy to chew wooden spoons is a bad idea. Wood is a fibrous material (risk of blockage), and bamboo breaks into sharp pieces that can injure your puppy.
Some woods are naturally toxic, and your wooden spoon will have a finish that is unlikely to be healthy for your puppy.
Keep your wooden spoons out of your puppy’s reach and dispose of them responsibly.
7. Plastic Bottles
Puppies and plenty of adult dogs love playing with plastic bottles. They make a delightful crunching sound, and you can chase them across a hard surface.
Retrieving breeds find them an ideal carrying toy, especially if part-filled with water.
The tops seem irresistible chew toys to most canines.
Is there any harm in letting your puppy play with and chew a plastic bottle?
A short, closely supervised play session using a plastic bottle is unlikely to damage your puppy.
But don’t leave your puppy unattended with a plastic bottle. The risk comes from a choking hazard and small sharp pieces hurting soft tissues.
Chasing and retrieving games are fun, but remove the plastic bottle and offer an appropriate chew toy if your puppy settles down to chew.
8. Tennis Balls
Tennis balls are fun to play with, but a destructive puppy will reduce the average tennis ball to bite-sized pieces.
Sports tennis balls are hard on your puppy’s teeth and not designed to be puppy safe, and you can have issues with choking on small bits and getting fibers stuck between the teeth.
If you want to leave a tennis ball with your puppy to keep it amused, opt for a tennis ball made for puppies.
You may pay a little more than a standard yellow tennis ball, but you will gain peace of mind.
The standard yellow tennis balls are great for walks and active play sessions where your puppy only gets access to the ball for chasing.
You can compromise by having cheap yellow tennis balls for outdoor supervised play and keep the more expensive puppy-friendly ones inside.
That way, you don’t mind when you lose the ball into a river or over a fence – but keep a hold of your puppy to stop it from obsessively pursuing the tennis ball into a hazardous situation.
Cardboard boxes make excellent tunnels and obstacles for your puppy to dodge around.
What happens if your puppy starts chewing the box?
Cardboard is a paper product made from wood pulp and glue, and it is a fibrous material and not suitable for your puppy’s sensitive digestive system. Scraps of cardboard can get stuck between your puppy’s teeth, and small pieces may be a choking hazard.
Separate the puppy from the cardboard if it shows an obsession with chewing the boxes.
If your puppy is teething, it will outgrow the habit, and you won’t need to worry when it is an adult.
Generally, concentrate on teaching your puppy to satisfy its need to chew with appropriate chew toys rather than found objects.
10. Nyla Bones
Nyla bones are hard non-edible plastic toys designed to help dogs chew safely. When your puppy is teething, a Nyla bone provides a suitable focus for chewing.
You can get “edible” and non-edible Nyla bones, and both have a broad range of flavors. The “edible” Nyla bones will safely pass through your puppy but check the label carefully for the source material as it is usually nutritionally neutral.
The non-edible chews have a tooth cleaning effect and raise rice-grain-sized bristles that your pup may ingest and should pass straight through.
Chunks are not part of the plan, but no toy is entirely non-destructible.
If your puppy breaks chunks of a non-edible Nyla bone, remove the toy because despite being non-toxic, eating small non-food items isn’t ideal for your puppy’s health.
The Nyla Bone will get smaller as your puppy chews it, and when it is worn down and may become a choking hazard, it is time to replace it.
Nyla bones are safe for your puppy to chew, but supervision and attention are necessary to ensure that your puppy doesn’t get into difficulties.
Buy the Nyla bone appropriate to the age and size of your puppy.
11. Natural Products: Sticks, Wood, Bamboo Canes, Bark Mulch
Your puppy may opt to find objects while playing in the garden and settle down for some chewing.
Although your puppy may not come to harm, there are hazards with these natural materials:
- Ingesting bits of wood, fiber and bark can lead to intestinal blockages.
- Sharp bits of bamboo cane may cause trauma.
- Some natural materials are toxic for your puppy.
- Risk of disease and infection.
If your puppy picks up something outside, it can also pick up parasites and infectious diseases, and it is safer for your puppy not to chew found objects.
Pinecones are not automatically poisonous, but pine oil may upset your puppy’s stomach.
Woody pinecones break into sharp pieces that may cut your puppy’s mouth, and fibrous material may cause intestinal blockages.
If your puppy tends to chew pinecones when out on a walk or playing in the garden, substitute a puppy-appropriate toy or chewable treat.
Some puppies are attracted to chewing on rocks, and perhaps they seek additional minerals that are missing from their diet.
Chewing on stones will grind away your puppy’s teeth and cause dental issues in adult life.
Train your puppy away from its rock chewing obsession – talk to your vet about the need for a mineral supplement and to a puppy trainer about changing your puppy’s habits.
14. Ice Cubes
Your puppy is teething, or it is a hot day.
Can chewing an ice cube help?
The straight answer is that ice cubes are relatively safe for your puppy, provided you think about mouth sizes and potential choking hazards.
Check out these other icy treats for your puppy.
15. Chunks of Fruit and Veg
Carrots and apples are edible chews for your puppy, and you can provide whole or in chunks.
When it comes to apples, remove the core because seeds can cause your puppy some issues with blockages – especially if you have a small puppy.
Corn on the cob is not the best option for your puppy because of the risk of intestinal blockage.
Corn off the cob is a good dietary addition in small amounts, but that doesn’t help when looking for an edible chew toy for your puppy.
Some other fruits and vegetables may be more suitable for your puppy to chew on.
16. Watermelon Rinds
Fresh watermelon is delicious and hydrating, but the rind is too fibrous for your puppy.
Although your puppy may enjoy chewing on it, the risk of blocking up your puppy’s stomach with fibrous particles means watermelon rind is not the best option for your puppy to chew.
17. Raw Bones and Ribs
Raw bones (soft and hard) are excellent for your puppy, and they help with teething, keeping teeth clean, adding essential nutrients, and providing physical and mental stimulation.
Because your puppy is still developing, it is best to supervise it while chewing on a bone to ensure no unexpected developments.
Your puppy benefits from raw bones in its diet, but you need to provide size-appropriate bones.
18. Cooked Steak Bones
Cooked bones of any kind are not for your puppy because cooking changes the bone structure and sharp cooked bone shards cause lethal injuries.
Raw steak bones are a delicious treat, but cooked ones are a fast trip to the vet for your puppy.
19. Cow and Pig’s Ears
Cow and pig ears are excellent chewable treats made from cartilage, and they provide plenty of safe chewing time and clean your puppy’s teeth.
You do want to watch that your puppy doesn’t try to eat large chunks of the ear as that can result in digestion issues.
Your best choices are raw, frozen ears, as these are free from additives, and the next best choice is ears baked without additives.
Avoid smoked or other chemical preservation of your pigs’ or cows’ ears; these are high-calorie treats, so feed in moderation.
A potential issue with dried cows or pigs’ ears is bacterial contamination – unlikely to be harmful to your puppy but may be detrimental to you and your family.
Check your retailer sources its pig and cow ears locally and to high hygiene standards.
Some “ears” are rawhide shapes, which do not provide the chewing benefits of natural cow and pig ears.
20. Cow Hooves
Cow hooves provide a cheap, durable chew for dogs, but are they safe or appropriate for puppies?
The downside of cow hooves as a puppy chew is that they smell terrible and can splinter with damage to teeth and gums; if you let your puppy chew cow hooves, you need to supervise.
These are durable chews, and you want to allow your puppy a five-minute session before removing the chew hooves for a session tomorrow.
Most vets don’t recommend cow hooves because of the risk of damage to teeth, splinters, and choking hazards.
Cow hooves may be cheap, but better chews are available for your puppy with fewer risks to your puppy’s health.
Many puppy owners allow their puppies to have cow hooves without ill effects, but everything has associated risks.
Antlers are hard bony chews and are not suitable until your puppy has its complete set of adult teeth (after ten months).
Antlers are considered a safe chewing option, but there are always risks with any chewable object depending on the size of the antler in relation to the puppy’s jaws and if the antler breaks into pieces.
Supervision is essential, and check the antler for damage before every chewing session.
Most puppies will chew and eat grass at some stage.
Sometimes puppies vomit after chewing the grass, but generally, the puppy would be sick anyway.
The only potential issue with chewing grass is pollution or chemical sprays; if your puppy has a taste for grass, you can grow puppy-friendly grass at home.
If your puppy is accessing fresh green grass without pollutants, you don’t need to worry about its grass chewing habit.
23. Mushrooms and other Fungi
Your puppy can chew on mushrooms that are safe for you to eat with no ill effects. But wild fungi cover a range of poisonous options, and it is best to prevent your puppy from randomly chewing on any wild mushrooms.
Your puppy doesn’t have the skills to tell an edible wild mushroom from a poisonous one.
All chewing activities carry some risks. Your puppy can choke on soft puppy meals if it tries to eat too quickly.
When assessing the risks to your puppy chewing items in your home or outside, consider the possibility of intestinal blockage, sharp painful fragments, and poisoning.
Training your puppy to chew appropriately saves you money and avoids traumatic trips to the vet.
Foods safe for puppies and specific toys are the best options for your puppy to chew safely.