Dogs love to chew!
While each dog may have their own preference for toys, it's in their nature to give things a good chew. Sometimes even our shoes and furniture!
Pit bulls are no different. Though they may present some unique challenges, as they have strong jaws and a lot of tenacity, which can put a lot of wear and tear on their chew toys. While an indestructible dog toy is still not currently available, there are some ways you can narrow down your search for the best chew toys for pitbulls.
Why Do Dogs Like To Chew So Much?
Chewing a chew toy has many benefits for dogs. For puppies, it can help relieve some of the pain of teething and help them to develop their jaw muscles, for older dogs it can help them to maintain healthy teeth and jaws.
Both wild and domestic dogs can chew for hours on anything from bones to wooden sticks, sometimes they can even playfully chew on you! It helps them to keep their gums and teeth clean and healthy, since they can't exactly floss, and acts as an outlet for boredom and frustration.
Rescued dogs may also turn to chewing and ‘fabric-sucking’ as a means to alleviate hunger, as a result of being weaned too early, or to relieve anxiety. Most chewing is normal, but look out if you can’t distract your dog away.
Dogs need to be trained on what's ok to chew on and what's not, but providing a variety of good-quality chew toys can help.
Pit Bulls and Chew Toys
Pit bulls provide some unique challenges when it comes to choosing a chew toy.
‘Pit bulls’ is a blanket term for a number of bully breeds, including the American pit bull terrier, the Staffordshire terrier, the American Bully, and so on. One of the identifying features of all of these breeds is the fact that they normally have wide heads and strong jaws.
Toys for pit bulls need to be strong, durable, and large enough to not be a choking hazard. Smaller balls, such as tennis or foam balls, can also be torn up and eaten, which can lead to obstruction, lengthy vet bills, and in some cases even surgery or death.
Qualities of a Good Chew Toy
There’s no accounting for taste, and your pit bull will have their own preferences for materials, flavors, and so on, but there are certain qualities that make for better toys than others.
I think all dog owners would like an indestructible dog toy, but unless you’re making it out of uranium or tungsten, you’re probably not going to get one, or at least not a chewable one. However, some materials are tougher than others. An ideal dog toy is one that's tough, but with enough give to not damage teeth.
A pit bull puppy needs soft dog toys, preferably toys made from soft-rubber, plush, or nylon. Their teeth are still too weak for tough toys. They may also need supervision, to make sure they’re not injuring themselves or eating chunks of chew toys. Older dogs may also need soft, easy-to-chew toys that won't cause any pain.
It's a good idea to see if the toy is made from natural rubber, that is rubber from plants, which tends to last a long time. It's also best to avoid soft plushies and any kind of children's toys for adult pit bulls, as these are not made with dogs in mind.
A good chew toy should also never have too many small parts or accessories that can be chewed off and swallowed.
Hardness goes hand-in-hand with durability. Toys for pit bulls should be tough, but not incredibly tough. A good test involves three things-
Fingernail indent - You should be able to drive your thumbnail into the rubber without gouging out a piece. If you can't, or if it's too painful to do that then the chew toy is too hard.
Nail test - If you can’t hammer in a nail with a tool…then there's no way a pit bull is managing to chew it. Pit bull jaws can be tough, but not that tough.
Hammer test - Hit the chew toy on your knee. If it hurts - then the dog chew is probably too hard for your pit bull
Many veterinarians advise against toys made of hard plastic, as well as ‘bones’ made from real bone or nylon, as these can break or damage teeth, or worse, splinter and stab into your dog’s gums or throat.
A good chew toy should never be a choking hazard, which can make it difficult to find one for a wide-mouthed breed like a pit bull. A good, durable chew toy should be able to sit comfortably in a dog’s mouth.
If it's too big and cumbersome, a dog may simply get frustrated and choose not to play with it, but it should be large enough that your dog can’t swallow it by accident.
For a general rule of thumb, try and find a toy that is longer than your dog’s jaw. A bone shaped chew toy is not just for aesthetics, but the flared ends can also prevent them from becoming a choking hazard. This will prevent any accidental slips.
Too big can also be a problem. Be careful of large, soft balls that can get lodged in your dog's mouth.
Other common choking hazards include any inflatable toys and children’s toys, which are not made with dogs in mind. Tennis balls are a major no-no as they are normally way too small and destructible for large dogs to safely use. Any kind of splintering treat such as rawhides and bones can also break up and get stuck in throats.
Last, but not least, the silent culprit (No pun intended)...Any dog toy with a built-in squeaker. This is when a toy is made with a small squeaker inside. Aside from driving your family insane, once the toy is ripped open, these squeakers can be swallowed and become a choking hazard.
Dog toys are not regulated by the FDA, meaning that there’s no real regulation on the final coating or on any flavoring that might be applied.
The biggest risk is heavy metal poisoning such as lead and cadmium. Normally there aren't huge amounts, but it can still cause health problems. This is less likely to happen with toys made in the USA, but if you want to be safe you can try an at-home lead-testing kit.
The FDA also has a list of all recalled or withdrawn pet products that may give you an idea of where to look.
Even if you’re going for dog chews made in the USA, it's often best to avoid flavorings in general. At worst, many of them may contain harmful chemicals, and at best they may just taste bad!
You can get your pit bull to engage with a toy by buying a toy that you can hide treats inside, or if you want a more simple option - you can just smear the toy in xylitol-free peanut butter or gravy to keep them entertained for hours.
The whole point of a dog chew is to keep a dog entertained and stimulated. For most pit bulls, a simple chewy toy is enough, but even dogs can get bored of the same old things.
Some experts recommend swapping toys out - that is keeping some toys back and switching them with the toys your dog is currently playing with every few weeks or so. Otherwise, you can go for a more stimulating toy, such as a treat dispensing chew toy, or something like a lick-pad that can double as a chew toy.
An important thing to consider is how easy a toy is to clean, as nobody wants a gross chew toy.
Most plushies are safe for the washing machine, but may need to be washed with dog-safe detergent and no softener. Plastic and rubber toys can generally be cleaned with a brush in the sink. Be careful with the products you use, and always make sure the toys are well rinsed and dried.
If any toy shows too much wear-and-tear, or any sign of mold…then it's best to say goodbye.
Sparkpaws currently does not sell chew toys, but based on the criteria above, here are some brands that may be worth checking out
KONG Chew toys - KONG offers a variety of rubber heavy duty toys for dogs of all sizes, including treat dispensing ones. They are widely recommended by veterinarians and trainers.
Goughnuts - Goughnuts is another brand offering tough chew toys. Their toys are made of good quality rubber and designed with safety in mind.
Fluff&Tuff Finn Koi - This teething plush is perfect for young puppies. The material is made from non-toxic materials, and it doesn’t contain a squeaker. There are also very few parts that can be chewed off and swallowed.
Dogs enjoy chewing, and it's more than just fun, they also do it to ease tension and anxiety. Pit bulls also enjoy chewing, but it may be harder to find chew toys that can stand up to their strong bites.
A good chew toy is one that is made of non-toxic materials or dyes, it should not have too many destroyable parts, flavorings, or be too difficult to sink teeth into. The toy should also be an appropriate size for the dog, with puppies needing smaller toys, and older pit bulls needing toys that are too big to swallow.
Stimulation is also important, a toy needs to be fun, but without choking hazards. This is why it's better to go for a treat-dispensing toy rather than one with a squeaker.
Toys aren’t the only items for pit bulls that have to be heavy duty! Toys are important, but dogs also need stimulation from walking and being outside. If you’re looking for some heavy duty walking equipment - try Sparkpaws colorful harness collection for heavy pullers.