Chewing is a species-specific natural behaviour in dogs. It has mental health benefits as well as dental health benefits, supporting calming, mental engagement and enrichment.
There was a strong evolutionary purpose to a dog’s desire to chew things, as their ancestors in the wild had a very different diet from our pet dogs today. These animals needed to keep their jaws strong and their teeth clean to enable them to be able to catch and consume the (often large) prey that they would hunt.
Chewing has two purposes in dogs. Firstly, it acts like a gym workout to exercise a dog’s jaw to keep all the muscles involved in chewing strong.
The second purpose of chewing is to help clean teeth. When the surface of a tooth bites into or rubs against a hard object, plaque and tartar on the surface of the tooth are rubbed off. This is known as ‘mechanical abrasion’. This significantly improves dental health, so the teeth can remain healthy, rather than becoming diseased, painful, and potentially falling out. Healthy teeth significantly improve a dog’s ability to eat so it can obtain the nutrition required to remain healthy and thrive.
In pups, chewing has an additional purpose: to help relieve the discomfort of teething.
Mother Nature realised that she needed to find a way to promote chewing (much like we humans sometimes need to find a way to motivate ourselves to go to the gym), so she made sure that this was an enjoyable experience for dogs, to encourage them to continue to do this. As dogs chew, endorphins such as dopamine and serotonin are released into their bodies. These are ‘happy hormones’ which have relaxing and calming effects. Chewing can help to combat boredom and aid in relieving mild anxiety.
Many people opt for ‘Occupy’ chews for their dogs to serve this purpose. There is a myriad of options available for dogs in this category – everything from various animal body parts including antlers, hooves, horns, various bones such as necks, shanks, pizzles, tails, and ears, as well as rawhide chews. Whilst these can be extremely long-lasting, there are some potential health concerns with many of these, including:
– Antlers/bones causing tooth fractures
– Rawhide being non-digestible with a risk of obstruction of the gut
– Body parts having higher fat and calorie concerns, potentially leading to conditions such as pancreatitis
WHIMZEES® by Wellness® now have an antler-shaped Occupy chew within the range. The unique antler shape was intentionally engineered with defensible architecture, which is designed to provide dogs with a healthy challenge that helps keep them engaged and chewing for longer. These have up to 15% more chew time than other WHIMZEES shapes and are designed to be a long-lasting, effective and playful way to help clean teeth and keep dogs occupied for longer^.
As with the entire WHIMZEES range, these great-tasting chews are all-natural with limited, vegetarian ingredients and are rawhide-free for a safe & satisfying chewing experience! They contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, nor any gluten, soy, wheat, or GMOs. Calcium carbonate is included to help promote strong teeth & bones, plus chamomile extract! The antlers are also hollow so they are perfect for stuffing, making them even more fun and enticing. So dogs can chomp and chill and chomp and chill and chomp and chill…
^ Data on file, Wellness Pet Company 2022