Dogs love to chew on things. In fact, chewing is a natural canine behavior. Providing appropriate chew treats and chew toys can be rewarding for the dog and might prevent or eliminate possible destructive chewing behavior. Chewable treats/toys are designed to provide that important natural chewing activity that dogs love. If the chew treat/toy has other benefits, such as oral care, that's even better.
Make enjoying chew treats and chew toys a safe and healthy activity with these tips:
Tip #1: There is some risk of digestive-tract obstruction with any type of chew treat or chew toy. Safety is always a concern when a dog chews. Many natural objects, such as sticks, rocks, and bones, can get stuck in a dog’s throat or intestine. As a dog owner, you are ultimately responsible to monitor your dog closely to make certain that the chew treat is chewed well.
Tip #2: Chew treats and chew toys should be sized appropriately for your dog. In other words, your dog should not be given a chew treat/toy that could be swallowed whole. Packages should indicate the appropriate size dog for the chew treat/toy. If in doubt, ask your retailer or contact the manufacturer.
Tip #3: Observe your dog playing with the chew toy or eating the chew treat. With the chew treat, your dog should gnaw on it with the side teeth and swallow pieces of the edible chew. Because dogs don't have the same crushing molars that humans have, they will “slice” off pieces with the side teeth. Many dogs will hold the treat in their paws or simply move it from side to side in their mouth as they chew off small pieces.
Tip #4: If your dog has a history of ingesting foreign objects such as rocks, sticks, or toys, you might not want to give him or her chew treats/toys at all. Try edible biscuits, instead.
Tip #5: Watch for choking, excessive drooling, vomiting, poor appetite, lethargy, and abnormal bowel movements. If you notice any of these signs, seek veterinary care sooner rather than later!
Tip #6: When in doubt about what is appropriate for your dog, contact your veterinarian. He or she can offer professional advice.
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Switching your dog to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, they tend to prefer their current food to a new food. Like us, they become accustomed to a food and might not be thrilled about a new routine. These useful dog-feeding tips will help you keep your dog satisfied.
4 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Dog to a New Food
1. Introduce the new food gradually.
When easing your dog into a change in diet, think “slow and steady.” Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the current food. Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. Your dog may want to eat only the old food, or not eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
2. Watch your body language.
Bringing a new food into your home, pouring it into your dog’s bowl and declaring that he should eat it might cause your dog to go on a hunger strike. This is not the time to show who’s boss. It’s better to introduce the new food by using a pleasant tone of voice and gently encouraging him to try the new food.
3. Don't give in to demands.
Persistence is key! For the first two days of the food transition, don’t give your dog treats or table scraps. Dogs train us as much as we train them. Giving in to their demands only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
4. Be patient when switching from wet food to dry food.
Switching diets may be more challenging when changing from a moist food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, mix in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds. If you mix the food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage. The same rule applies for canned and pouch food. After the dog has become accustomed to the moistened food, you can wean him onto completely dry food. To do this, follow the same mixing instructions outlined above.
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