Submitted by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson, DVM
“Dietary Indiscretion” is a term veterinarians use to describe the domestic dog’s habit of eating something that results in indigestion. This includes a long list of unpleasant things dogs will eat I don’t need to mention here, but it unfortunately also includes things given to dogs by their well-meaning owners that get eaten and cause problems. Sometimes just mild indigestion, but sometimes serious esophageal damage, stomach perforation or bowel obstruction that can result in hospitalization, surgery and even death.
The best rule of thumb is not to give your dog anything to chew that it can eat. Large bones get chewed into chunks that get swallowed. Rawhide is chewed soft and swallowed. Pig ears, horse and cattle hooves, antlers, bull penis bones, chicken feet (!) all can cause digestive upset. Many of these items are manufactured outside of the USA, or from parts originating outside of the USA and have been found to contain toxic ingredients. Just think how the Chinese laugh while manufacturing these things Americans buy for their dogs.
If you insist on giving your dog something to chew, supervise the chewing and take it away before it can be swallowed. Realize that dogs also break their teeth (usually the large upper carnassial tooth) chewing on bones or hard toys like Nylabones, even if they cannot swallow them.
Of course, they LOVE these chew toys. But that doesn’t mean they should have them. Great substitutes for bones that I have found to work with my Labradors (major chewers!) include the Nylabone Durachew double action dental chew, the Spot Play Strong Rubber Stick Dog Toy or the Spot Play Strong Rubber Trident Dog Toy. Obtain a large enough version of the toy that it cannot be swallowed. Better yet, take your dog for a walk!