“The first thing we need to understand about dogs is that chewing is a natural behaviour. Dogs need to chew as it is both mentally stimulating and a species specific behaviour” says Animal Behaviourist Nicole Nel.
But animals are vulnerable to risks when they unknowingly chew on hazardous objects which could lead to a gut obstruction. This could be life-threatening and is always a veterinary emergency.
It is our responsibility as their guardians to manage our pet’s environment so that they have safe outlets to perform their natural behaviours. From redirecting your pet to providing them with treats and toys that will satisfy their natural chewing instinct, here are some tips from our Animal Behaviourist:
Get Good Advice
Chat to your local vet or the friendly team at the SPCA Vet Shop for advice on appropriate chewables. Ensure the right size for the age, size of dog and chewing needs of the dog. For example senior dogs may need different edible chews to a young adult dog or a developing pup.
Redirect / Do A Swop
If you find your dog with an item you do not want them to have, do not shout , chase or chastise the dog. Redirect their attention to an item they may have so you do an object exchange. This not only teaches your dog to release a prized inappropriate possession, it could also prevent issues like resource guarding or them running off with what they’ve found and turning it into a game of “catch me if you can”.
Tidy Up /Prevent Access to Hazards
Keep the dog’s immediate environment clean and put objects away that you do not want them to chew (shoes, personal items etc). Effective management means prevention is better than cure. Make use of baby gates, separations or close doors if you are unable to actively supervise your dog.
Dogs explore with their mouths. It is up to us to teach them kindly and humanely what is appropriate and what is not. Dogs need access to enrichment daily. Chewing helps dogs feel calmer, alleviates feelings of frustration and helps reduce problem behaviours associated with boredom.
Our Vet Shop Team Recommends
From as little as R24.00 the SPCA Vet Shops offer a range of durable chew toys, interactive puzzles and treats that will provide hours of safe, stimulating entertainment for your pet.
Because all Vet Shop proceeds go directly towards our important work with animals, when you shop with us, you’ll not only be providing for your pet’s needs, you’ll be helping us provide for as many as 350 dogs and cats we have on site at any given time.
Read more on the signs and symptoms of gut obstruction here
If you’re concerned about your dog’s chewing or eating of inappropriate items (like stones) it is highly recommended to consult with your vet or veterinary behaviourist to rule out any underlying medical and health related concerns.