In this post, I’ll share what kind of dog chews are safe to use and the benefits of feeding natural chews.
For dog owners with an aggressive chewer, natural chews combined with enrichment toys are one of the best ways to keep your dogs busy.
Natural chews are great for dogs because…
- Can contain healthy elements like calcium, protein, chondroitin, and other vitamins
- Provides soothing deep jaw chewing
- Helps maintain a healthy mouth and saliva production
When you stuff a natural chew inside of a rubbery enrichment toy or chew holder, you’re giving your dog a safe and challenging chew puzzle toy to solve.
In addition to keeping your dog busy, chewing has the added bonus of helping your dog naturally self-soothe. With just 10 minutes of chewing, your dog’s brain will release endorphins that help them feel calm.
Plus, chewing activates saliva that helps your dog maintain a healthy mouth. Some chews have ridges that can reduce plaque. There are so many benefits to giving our dog natural chews, let me tell you about the best ones!
This post contains affiliate links. Did you know… affiliate links are one of the ways bloggers make money? When you shop with my links, I may earn a small commission but it doesn’t cost you a thing! Thank you in advance for shopping with my links.
What is a Natural Chew for Dogs?
The best dog chews are ones that are durable but not so hard that they could chip your dog’s teeth. I like to give my dogs all natural edible chews rather than synthetic chew toys. Synthetic dog chew toys are not digestible and can often develop sharp edges or break off into small pieces that can cause intestinal blockages.
My top picks for chews are made from all-natural ingredients
- Earth Animal No-Hide Chews
- Bully Sticks
- Etta Says Beef Stick
- Yak Milk Chews
- Dental Chews
- Dried Fish Skin
- Dried Chicken or Duck Feet
- Rolled Fur-On Beef Hide
- Dried Trachea *our personal favorite!
If you’re curious about what protein sources are best for your particular dog, you might consider doing a food intolerance test. I did one with my dog Lucy and learned that her best proteins are chicken, lamb and venison. Her worst are beef and pork, so I now try to avoid chews made from cows or pigs. It will differ from dog to dog!
As you read through this list of my favorites, think about your dog’s chew style. Do they go through things fast and aggressively? My dog Burt does! Or does your dog take their time, guard the chew and work on it more methodically? That’s usually my other dog Lucy.
In this post, I feature a wide variety of chews from gentle chews for small dogs, puppies and seniors to extra large chews suitable for large dogs and aggressive chewers.
Sometimes I combine my natural chews with a toy to make it more of a challenge for my dogs.
With these enrichment toys I always look for eco-friendly materials. To me this means the materials used in the toy (like natural rubber) are safe for my dog to put in their mouth. I like that West Paw toys are made in the USA from recycled materials.
You’ll see me link to a few toys from West Paw and other brands in this post. If you shop through my links, it really helps me out!
9 Best Natural Chew Toys for Dogs Who Are Aggressive Chewers
Chewing gives your dog mental stimulation and releases endorphins that relieve stress. But with thousands of options to pick from, how do you pick the right chews for your dog?
I’ve been researching and testing chews with my dogs for years and have found brands with the highest standards for the ingredients in their chews.
This post will help you know what chews to look for and what brands I trust to buy from.
I organized this list from basic chews that any dog owner can find, to more exotic things like fur-on chews.
I’ll admit, it took me a while to work up to the adventurous chews (I didn’t want to touch some of them at first!). But when I see how much my dogs love them and the benefits they get from them, there’s no going back!
Many of these chews are available in different sizes. If you have a small dog who is also an aggressive chewer, just get a smaller size.
Earth Animal No-Hide Chews
Earth Animal is a trusted brand that makes all kinds of dog treats and chews. What I love about their No-Hide chews is that they’re a great alternative to rawhide. Traditional rawhide chews aren’t safe for your dog (I outline a lot of reasons at the bottom of the post).
These No-Hide chews are made with all-natural ingredients and a protein source that give the effect of a rawhide chew, but are much safer! You won’t find any bleach, synthetics, or preservatives in these chews.
These come in different flavors and sizes. Choose what’s best for your dog. Earth Animal No-Hide chews are available on Only Natural Pet or your local pet supplies shop!
Bully sticks are a really popular choice for dog chews. They’re a long lasting, single-ingredient chew that is 100% digestible. What exactly are bully sticks made of? You’ll see a lot of brands refer to the ingredient as beef pizzle.
That’s just a polite way of saying cow penis! Let’s just put it out there and be honest! While that might seem strange, these chews are very healthy for your dog and a great chew toy for dogs of all sizes.
With this and any other of the 9 best natural chew toys for dogs in this post, please supervise their chewing and take the bully stick away when it gets to be so small that your dog could choke on it. Small pieces of bully stick can get stuck in your dog’s throat and be very painful or even life-threatening.
Make a bully stick safer with a bully stick holder. I interviewed Johnna Devereaux on my podcast about the Bully Buddy. This is one of my favorite episodes for pet parents! Johnna told me how a bully stick holder can help prevent choking hazards.
>> Already have a West Paw Toppl toy? In this post, I show how you can use the small and large size Toppl together to make a bully stick holder.
Etta Says Beef Stick
Are you looking for something like a bully stick but got grossed out when I told you it’s made from a cow penis? I get it!
In that case, try a beef stick from Etta Says. I like this brand because they use all-natural made in the USA ingredients.
You can buy a 3-foot beef stick and break it into smaller sections to give your dog. Or you can pick up a Deluxe Chew made from other protein sources that will last a long time for your dog.
The last time I took my dog Burt into our local pet supplies store he helped himself to a few Etta Says chews! Out of all the things he could reach, that’s what he went for! So I’ll take his word for it that your dog is going to love these chews.
Etta Says chews have a Munch-Meter that helps you pick the right chew for your dog. The Deluxe Lamb Chew has a hardy score on the Munch-Meter Scale. It’s 100% natural, made and sourced in the USA, and grain free. Buy it on Chewy or at your local store.
Yak Milk Chews
Dried Himalayan yak milk chews are one of the best natural chew toys for dogs, especially tough chewers!
While these sound very exotic, they’re made with 3 simple ingredients: yak milk, salt and lime.
The dried cheese chew softens as your dog chews it. One of the neat things about these chews is that when they get down to small pieces, you can pop them in the microwave and they will expand into a cheese puff.
I recommend putting yak milk chews inside of a rubber enrichment toy to make them last longer and prevent your dog from eating them too quickly. This is the yak milk holder toy I have.
We know that chewing is great for your dog’s dental health. It encourages saliva production and can act as a toothbrush or floss to clean the teeth.
While all chews give your dog these benefits, there are a lot of dental chews for dogs.
My two favorite dental chews are the Missing Link Smart Mouth or Whimzees that come in different shapes. I like these because they’re both made with trustworthy all-natural ingredients (unlike this other dental chew).
What’s really nice about the Smart Mouth chews is they contain vitamins that support a healthy mouth like a patented form of vitamin C that helps reduce plaque and tartar. Plus they have added glucosamine for healthy joints and omega fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat.
Whimzees are another great option! They are made with no artificial ingredients, colors or flavors.
I recently gave Burt and Lucy the large toothbrush chews and they lasted pretty long, even with my aggressive chewer! You can find them on Amazon. Whimzees also have puppy chews that are good for dogs who weigh 5-20 pounds.
Dried Fish Skin
We’re working our way up to the more “interesting” dog chews, so I’m easing you in with dried fish skins.
These are single-ingredient natural dog chews that are simply rolled up and dried skin. It’s surprisingly tough and great for a heavy chewer.
Since the skin becomes more leathery and chewy instead of breaking off into chunks, it can take your dog a while to finish it.
There are a ton of brands that make fish skin chews with cod, salmon and other fish. For the longest lasting ones, look for rolled or braided fish skin.
Of course, fish skin is a good source of lean protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that support your dog’s coat, joints and heart health. The only downside: it can smell a little fishy!
Dried Chicken or Duck Feet
I love to make a chew more challenging for my dogs by stuffing it in an interactive toy. These dried feet are perfect to put in the HOL-ee Roller to make it a little more fun and challenging for Burt and Lucy to eat their treat.
These all natural chews contain glucosamine and chondroitin, two vitamins that support healthy joints.
Lately, I’ve been buying chews like this from Farm Hounds, they work with small farmers around the country to give them an extra source of revenue while providing our dogs with high quality, safe treats and chews. In my opinion, they carry some of the best natural chew toys for dogs!
Rolled Beef Hide (with the fur on!)
If a chew lasts for longer than 15 minutes I will take it away and save it in a paper bag in the fridge for the next chewing session.
When I share photos of Burt working on a chew with the fur on I get a lot of questions! Yes, you can give your dog fur-on chews! In fact, the fur is a great source of fiber and manganese and acts as an internal scrub brush as it works through your dog’s digestive system.
When you buy something like this, it is important to know it’s the complete hide. They are NOT stripped, processed with toxic chemicals, or dyed like many industrially made rawhide.
Farm Hounds shares on their website that, “although each hide is washed before dehydration, seeing elements of grass, dirt, and other natural debris is common. Products with hair also retain some of their natural animal scent (which dogs love), so you can expect a cowhide to smell somewhat like a cow!”
Maybe the Best Natural Chew Toy for Dogs: Dried Trachea!
I was in a dog supplies store in California while visiting my sister and I overheard a couple shopping for dog chews. With every option they picked up one of them said, “But he went through that so fast last time.” I couldn’t help but make a recommendation!
For an aggressive chewer, I love to get a dried beef trachea, stuff it with wet dog food and freeze the whole thing. I call it a Doggy Cannoli and its one of the best natural chew toys for dogs!
Beef trachea (aka the windpipe) is lined with cartilage and high in glucosamine and chondroitin, great for your dog’s healthy joints. Plus, the grooves of the trachea can help to scrape off excess tartar on their teeth.
I recommend giving this DIY enhanced chew outdoors since it can get pretty messy as your dog eats is. You can find Beef Trachea chews from Farm Hounds (remember to grab my 10% off your whole order with code TMISTICK.).
You don’t have to make this look pretty, but one day I got a little carried away and added Burt and Lucy’s names with frozen letters I made with this mold.
What Chew Toys Are Bad for Dogs?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of products that you can buy at a pet supplies store that are not safe for your dog to chew on, especially when they’re unsupervised.
I would not recommend letting your dog chew on tennis balls. Although many dogs love to rip the furry part off the ball, that’s exactly what can turn it into a choking hazard or something that needs to be surgically removed from your dog’s gut.
Another item that you’ll see in pet supplies stores are rawhides chews. Although these are often marketed as natural chews, they usually contain chemicals (even bleach) and can be very unsafe for your dog. When the material gets wet and soft, it can get stuck in your dog’s throat.
Rawhides are the number 1 cause of choking in dogs. Instead of a big bag of rawhides, I recommend that you buy the safe alternatives I’ve listed above. And make sure you check out my post on choking prevention, it could save your dog’s life!
The last thing to avoid as a chew for your pup is rope toys.
They are much better to play with as a tug toy than a chew. The rope can be swallowed and cause painful intestinal blockages and even surgery. Never let your dog play with a rope toy unsupervised.
FAQs about Natural Dog Chews
How often should I give my dog a chew?
Even with the best natural chew toys for dogs I wouldn’t recommend more than 1 per day. I give my dogs different types of chews a few times a week. I alternate them with stuffed Kongs and Toppls.
According to Farm Hounds where I order a lot of natural chews, “Limit chewing to 15-20 minutes per session.”
“Most dogs feel fully satisfied (endorphins get released in the brain) after short sessions of back-of-the-jaw gnawing. After chewing, store the hide out of sight and give it again when you need the pup to have some downtime!”
How can I tell if a chew is too hard?
A simple trick is to use your thumbnail and try to dent the chew. If it’s so hard that you can’t dent it, then it’s too hard for your dog to chew on. Very hard chew toys can chip your dog’s teeth, which can be painful for them and expensive for you at the vet!
What bones are safe for my dog to chew on?
You’ll notice this list of the best natural chew toys for dogs doesn’t contain any bones. Never give your dog cooked bones, and never let them chew on chicken bones. Both can splinter and cause choking or internal problems for your dog.
A lot of people give marrow bones to their dogs. Personally, I don’t. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for your dog. My dog Lucy has a few chipped teeth and I want to maintain her dental health more than I want her to chew on a bone.
I have gone to the butcher and bought raw uncooked bones before, but those only go to Burt and only under close supervision. He would chew on that all day if I let him, so I take it away after about 15 minutes and save the rest in a paper bag in the fridge.
Why don’t you recommend rawhide chews?
The biggest problem for me with many rawhides is the chemical processing they undergo. The light white rawhides are often bleached and the yellow or orange-flavored ones can contain chemical flavoring or toxic dyes.
There is no regulation of these products, so it’s up to you to make the responsible choice for your dog.
Besides the chemicals, rawhide chews are a major choking hazard for dogs. According to the Pet First Aid Certification Course, I just finished, rawhides are the number 1 highest cause of choking in dogs (number 2 is balls).
Since the material gets slimy and can expand when wet, it can get lodged in your dog’s throat and suffocate them. That’s why I recommend stocking a hemostat or long needle-nose pliers in your Dog First Aid Kit. The material of rawhide is also not digestible, so it can cause intestinal blockages. Just say no to rawhide chews.
Here’s why I say no to rawhides:
- Often processed with harmful chemicals
- No regulation or standards
- Number 1 choking hazard for dogs
Are there any good chew toys you recommend that aren’t edible?
For an aggressive chewer, you probably don’t want plush toys but there are some “stuffed animals” that don’t have any stuffing. Instead, these dog toys are designed for you to put an empty water bottle inside.
As your dog chews and wrestles with the toy, the plastic bottles make a great crinkling noise. A lot of dogs love this! I’ve found these toys to be very durable. The one we have is a few years old and still works! I don’t recommend the hard plastic bones or anything with rope.
This post contains affiliate links. Did you know, affiliate links are one of the ways bloggers make money? When you shop with my links, I may earn a small commission but it doesn’t cost you a thing! Thank you in advance for shopping with my links.
Did you enjoy this? Check out these blog posts:
Doggy Cannoli Recipe
Nina Ottosson Hide’n’Slide Puzzle Review
4 Ways to Play with HOL-ee Enrichment Toys
What’s a West Paw Toppl?
Healthy Kong Stuffing Recipes my Labradors LOVE
Learn What Foods Your Dog Should Eat with a Food Intolerance Test