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Good non-toxic, grain-free things for a puppy who is teething to chew on?

My sister recently adopted a Great Dane puppy. He's pretty healthy, but seems to be having some teething issues and keeps going for shoes and slippers. I'd love to keep something around the house for him to chew on, and wondered if any of you have any suggestions.

The people from Great Dane Rescue strongly recommended that he be kept on a grain-free diet, so that rules out a lot of teething biscuits, and I'd rather not give him plastic chew toys.

Are bones the best way to go, and if so, should I cook them first? I also saw some all-beef Bully Sticks in a local store at a fairly reasonable price (apparently made of bull penis - yikes), but a lot of reviews say they smell horrible. Does anyone have experience with this product? http://www.valuepetsupplies.com/red-b... How bad does it smell?

Anyway, I'd be grateful for any suggestions.

Thank you,

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  1. Our dog loooooves dried penises. Seriously - they are her favorite things. And some of them do smell, but some don't. Sometimes I catch a whiff, sometimes nothing. Pig ears are usually a winner, but they can also stink - sometimes. We also bought a pig hoof (around 10 years ago for $.99) that's still a favorite. Basically all gross stinky things, but they make the dog happy.

    9 Replies
    1. re: NonnieMuss

      ninrn: these things sound weird, but hey the dog likes 'em! (note about pig ears, either get them dried or slow bake and dehydrate them yourself as the raw version will cause REAllY bad breath). all good and chewy with just a little cartilage.

      if you go for bones, pls. no chicken or pork and don't cook them as that makes them brittle and splintery.

      1. re: hill food

        I take bad breath as a given for our dog. Not something one can control, sadly. Agree on the cooked bones - don't cook them! But penises - the favorite in our house. We just can't get enough penises.

        1. re: NonnieMuss

          so is the dog's current nickname (mine changes almost daily) now 'dicka-licious'?

          1. re: NonnieMuss

            Yup, our little Salty loves the d! :)

            1. re: NonnieMuss

              <<We just can't get enough penises.>>

              Oh yes. Also called "Bully Sticks."

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Yes, or Pizzle Sticks, or Bully Springs, or what have you. But beware of Bully Chunks or Bully Nuggets, which are often dried chunks of lung and smell worse than anything.

              2. re: NonnieMuss

                Bad breath in dogs and cats indicates that a visit to the vet is in order. It is virtually always a sign that there is an oral or systemic infection. Pets with healthy mouths and organs do not have bad breath unless they've just eaten something foul, like carrion or feces, and halitosis of that sort is transient.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Our dog's health is just fine. She often finds and eats horrifying things though. I'm not the biggest fan of regular old doggy breath either though, to be honest.

                  1. re: NonnieMuss

                    but she doesn't complain about your breath...

                    mine likes to sniff my shins.

          2. when I was a kid we gave our puppy rawhide toys to chew on, they last a long time for a bigger pup and don't smell

            2 Replies
            1. re: BeeZee

              I never had trouble with rawhide but there ARE owners, breeders, and vets who will freak out about rawhide, pig ears, and other popular chews. Most are not USA-sourced and can have dangerous chemicals. Some dogs have died or required surgery for guts obstructed by strips/chunks of swallowed rawhide. As with other treats for dogs, monitor and take away if it looks like the animal is going to gulp big pieces.

              1. re: greygarious

                Hi greygarious,

                I think it was you that posted a link to www.doggyloot.com a while back. It's a great site that offers premium treats (and other dog stuff) at a savings. Been very happy with everything I've got from them.

                My little dog thanks you. :)

            2. For teething, dishtowels or similar-sized terrycloth pieces, knotted in the center, soaked, then frozen. Smear some peanut butter or bacon grease on a section of the knot to get him started if he doesn't chew on it as is. Monitor to be sure he's not eating the cloth but as long as it's not a long strip, even if he DID swallow a little bit of cloth it should pass through uneventfully.

              3 Replies
              1. re: greygarious

                soaked in broth is something puppies like.

                1. re: chartreauxx

                  The only reason I didn't suggest that is that it increases the chance the dog will bite off and swallow the fabric. Kind of depends on the individual, but for a small breed, this *could* end in tragedy.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    agree, but OP specifies a great dane :-) pretty sure that isn't a small breed. i wouldn't suggest the same for say, a chihuahua or a dachshund.

              2. Antlers. Thank me later. Expensive but they last forever and our puppy and teenage dog (in dog years) never tire of them.

                1. Now this didn't hold any interest for my dog, but friends swear by them. http://www.amazon.com/KONG-Classic-Do...

                  Just fill them up with peanut butter and freeze them.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: EM23

                    Those kong toys are hours of doggie entertainment!
                    For the OP you may want to give it to the dog outside... My mom freaked out over a peanut butter gob that got on her rug....

                    1. re: EM23

                      Our dogs absolutely hated Kong. They had been recommended by our trainer, but rejected by out big dogs.

                      Antlers and tennis balls were the best

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        Yep. They are not for all dogs, mine included, but a few friends have/had dogs that love them, and kept them from chewing everything. My dog preferred eating furniture as a young'un...a costly alternative.

                        1. re: EM23

                          My dog turned up his nose at Kong & liked chewing on the walls as a pup. His tastes have now matured and he prefers used tissues.

                          1. re: almond tree

                            When my dog is not chewing on dried penises, she also enjoys whatever she can find in the bathroom trash, or the litter box.

                      2. Kong makes a chew toy which can be filled with banana and frozen. Great for teething dogs as well as those who like to chew.


                        1. proud parent of a heavy-chewing 6 month old lab mix here. first let me start by saying i think grain-free for dogs is a touch of a fad lately and i do feed my pet kibble. BUT, since you asked for no grain...

                          try this:

                          it's 100% himalayan yak cheese. i also stuff a kong with peanut butter and/or banana and/or kong stuff'n paster and freeze it.

                          you can feed 1 frozen or chilled carrot a day. good vitamins and pups love em, but beware the high fiber content. more than one a day may make for puppy poo messes.

                          sometimes i drop an ice cube in miss suki's bowl and let her play with it. i think she likes the cold.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: chartreauxx

                            Our Charley...a Boxer/Dalmation/American bulldog mix was found starving to death in a box of 10 puppies (5 dead, 5 barely alive) on the side of the road near Charleston, SC--hence his name.
                            He came to us after 8 weeks in a foster home but had terrible ear soars, bleeding and was constantly scratching his.

                            After constant work with our vet and trying different diets and medicines over 12 months we were able to determine that he is allergic to wheat, corn, beef, and dairy.

                            We have switched to Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight which is chicken based and supplement with freshly grilled chicken, turkey, lamb or duck. He can eat rice or barley.

                            The snacks in the Pet Food stores: Petco, Pet Valu, etc are outrageously expensive $9 for 14oz. In our area Ocean State Job Lot carries Newman's Own made with no wheat, corn or gluten in interesting varieties, such as turkey and cranberry or lamb and barley for only $2.99.

                            I also make my own Turkey and chicken jerky for the dogs.

                            As our 4 dogs are apt to eat from each other's bowls we feed all four the same diet. Once a week, I get my youngest to take Charley for a hour long ride and grill steak for the others )who do miss their beef). Most important, no more treats from out table.

                            Charley has had no ear problems since we figured out the allergies, but even one bite can set him off. Two weeks ago a visitor to the house meant well and gave Charley one wheat thin. Charley nealy scratched his ear off that night, blood all over. He needed a week's of antibiotics to recover.

                            Grain Free isn't the issue, it's which grains to avoid that is the issue.

                            In our case, Wheat and corn are banned, rice and barley are just fine.

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              bagelman01, This is really interesting. I've noticed my sister's puppy gets extremely hyper and snaps and bites after eating. She feeds him a grain-free kibble and some raw meat. She says that this is just his being a puppy, and that his apparent craziness is just his expending energy from the food. After reading your post though, I wonder if he's allergic to something.

                              Can anyone tell me about this hyper post-meal behavior? Is it normal?

                              And how did you establish what foods your dog is allergic to, bm01. Are there some sort of tests a vet can do?

                              1. re: ninrn

                                The vet had us eliminate all beef, dairy, wheat, corn, barley, pork, veal and chicken....
                                started with turkey, barley, rice and sweet potatoes and each 2 weeks of no ear infections, scratching, etc. we were able to add one of the eliminated items back into the diet for three days. if no scratching, then it stayed in the diet.

                                Once we saw that he could tolerate chicken, then the Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight which is chicken based became the kibble base of his diet. The vet would have preferred a turkey based kibble, but the healthy weight is chicken based and our other dogs need this.

                                And as unappetizing as this sounds. Many puppies eat feces of other dogs and if they are eating the forbidden food/grains the allergic puppy may react to the fecal matter.

                                Unfortunately, there is no skin scratch allergy teat as for humans.

                                1. re: ninrn

                                  I have known dogs to become hyper from a diet TOO high in protein for their normal activity level. The vet describes this as akin to putting jet fuel into your station wagon. The high activity kibbles are meant for working dogs who expend a lot of energy every day.

                              2. re: chartreauxx

                                Not a fad at all. I'm not paleo in my own diet but I'm not a dog or cat and people don't have the same digestive system. We started on prey model raw due to the health issues one of our dogs was having from the crappy ass Science Diet the vet wanted him on for life due to a liver issue. It was all rice and potatoes no meat at all. He gained a ton of weight and had horrible allergies and ear issues. We've been feeding prey model raw for almost 10 years now including raising a puppy on it. The dog that started it all is now 13 years old and in great health.

                              3. Start with the 'Bully Springs', they're fairly light and break down quicker than leather. Smell is not an issue. They're cheaper on-line in bulk, but pay attention to the country of origin. Start sourcing for a whole raw beef shank bone. Danes need that cartilage.

                                1. When I had dogs (3 dobies and 2 rotties over MANY years), BIG raw-hide chews and BIG bones were the go-to. I know some say NO to either or both of these.

                                  I'd order XL rawhides from one of those pet supply catalog stores. When dogs were small (relative to breed?!?), I didn't go for the cutesy little ones... thought choking risk was much greater as pups got them gnawed on.

                                  Would give big soup bones to dogs... AFTER they were used to make soup, of course. Had a REAL butcher shop near me and they gave away bones they didn't want. Had 2 Rotties at the time... older about 18 months old and younger maybe 4-5 months old. Both were pretty good size by then... probably 40-90 lbs by then. Went into butcher shop and asked if they had an BIG bare bones in the back. Kid behind counter kinda tilted her head (like dogs do when interested or CONFUSED) and asked me... "BEAR bones??" Several people started chuckling. Guy in back comes out with an entire beef femur... probably over 2 feet long with BIG knuckles on either end. Raw bones kinda skeeved ME so I roasted them off just like I was gonna make stock... veggies included. Got some nice drippings for me. When cooled, gave one to each dog and they went to different parts of the house to gnaw away.

                                  When I went to check on them, older dogs stubby tail was wagging furiously... thank you! thank you!! thank you!!! The "puppy" GROWLED at me!! It was her FIRST real bone EVER and I put a stop to THAT behavior right then and there!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: kseiverd

                                    Cooked bones of any kind are a splinter/gut perforation risk.
                                    Raw bones of any kind are safe.

                                    Whole Dog Journal is an excellent publication for dog owners interested in canine nutrition, behavior, and health.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      That's really good to know. Thank you.

                                  2. Throw the dog a bone. It has worked for the past couple thousand years, no reason it won't work now.

                                    1. Wow! Thank you so much. This may be the first thread I've read on CH (or any discussion board) in which every single response is helpful.

                                      Grateful tail wags to all of you,

                                      1. Bully sticks. They come in a variety of shapes...springs, sticks, pretzels. Keeps them busy. They smell when you open the package but other than that, they are fine.

                                        Once my dog, now almost 2, got a little bored with bully sticks, we moved onto marrow bones. Gets kind of messy so we give them to her when she's in the backyard. They are in the freezer section of the pet store and they don't splinter.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: valerie

                                          Any brands you can recommend? I live in a non-English speaking country and find it's usually easier to look for items by brand name.

                                          1. re: almond tree

                                            The one I saw on sale here is Red Barn Bully Sticks. I liked that they are made only of beef, no added starches, salts, sugars or other flavorings. It looks like they're rather expensive online, though.

                                            1. re: almond tree

                                              In my pet store they have a big variety that are loose, so I don't know them by brand.

                                              Perhaps you can bring a picture?


                                              1. re: valerie

                                                Thanks for the link. I have actually seen bulk treats that look like some of those.
                                                My 3-year-old Min Pin mix still has the urge to chew sometimes and is bored with rawhide (which doesn't seem like the healthiest option anyway.)

                                          2. My Daisy loves Bull Pizzles. The first time I gave her one she put it down and started barking at it. It was very funny.

                                            At about 2-3 mos. puppies will start losing their puppy teeth and they begin chewing. This can go on for a few more months until the adult teeth come in and while they are coming in the puppy will want to chew more. Raw hide chewy sticks, the bull pizzles are good. Pretty much anything leathery. Remember to keep your shoes in the closet and keep the closet door closed. My DH did not heed my warning and lost his best dress shoes. I'm bringing home a new puppy on Saturday. We are going to have to make sure everything chewable is put away.

                                            1. Many moons ago I was a pit-bull mommy.

                                              I would buy thick unbleached cotton rope and make chew/pull toys.

                                              Like this example:


                                              (Hope that link works).

                                              Sorry if this is not food related...errr except it kept the pups from "eating" things I didn't want them to eat. Like the coffee table and the couch.

                                              1. I don't mean to be antagonistic, but why no plastic?

                                                I had a German Shepard mix that had serious chewing issues. First put everything away, no amount of toys to chew on will deter him from your favorite shoes, cell phone, etc. Second, I swear by Nylabone. Kongs and Buster Cubes come in a close second. Though the Buster Cubes are plastic they are very durable and a lot of fun for the dog.

                                                As for real bones get them from pet supply places, don't cook them on your own. Some bones are less dense than others and can chip off and lodge itself in the dogs throat (per my vet). I am in the no rawhide camp too. I will never forget the time I had to unstick a piece a of rawhide from my dog's mouth and throat.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                  my last dog was a dobie/shepherd mix who was 80-90 pounds. not a small dog. he would savage those plastic /nylon bones and the pieces would come out in his bowel movements intact. that CANNOT be healthy or safe, so after a couple tries, which got devoured in less than a day, i stopped and he only got natural bones and such. i cooked pig ears and chicken feet for him, which he LOVED and ate in nanoseconds.

                                                  he had zero interest in the kong stuff or knotted ropes. he'd play tug of war with the latter, but never chewed on them.

                                                  raw bones of any kind (yes, even chicken) are safe for dogs. cooked bones are not. if you're worried about a mess give them outside or on the kitchen floor.

                                                2. Be careful with the Kongs- my maltese mix is a serious chewer, and at the rip-old age of 6 months was able to DESTROY the puppy kongs. And I mean totally destroy- he ripped them apart and was working on eating the rubber pieces when I caught him. We moved on to the "tough chewer" (black) models which took him a mere few days to shred.

                                                  In short, if you can monitor the pup, kongs are amazing. But be careful- they're not as indestructible as they purport!

                                                  1. First, monitor your dog, don't leave him alone with new chew things until you get a sense of how aggressive he is. I have a Mr. Destructo dog, he rips through the toughest of toys.

                                                    I too recommend antlers. Make sure they are big enough for your dog. Don't want to give a great dane puppy something that he can choke on. And don't get the moose antlers which are "sliced" into sections. Those splinter. Get a regular elk/deer antler (it looks like an antler, not a slice of something.)

                                                    Bully sticks are also good, but they eat (chew, swallow, digest) them so it's extra calories in the diet. Antlers just slowly wear down so they aren't a food source for your pup.

                                                    I'm on the side of "no" rawhide chews. You have no idea how those are processed to look like they do. Stick with natural things.

                                                    1. We always get our huskies a big bag of dried sweet potato chews for Christmas-- get the variety for big dogs (bigger, thicker slices) and they will last more than 5 seconds. One of the pups loves them so much that she tends to swallow big chunks, the other will happily nibble away for an hour or so.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: chococat

                                                        My Ben, a very senior Walker hound, LOVES these...and the ones wrapped in chicken jerky. Good one chococat!

                                                        Just a caveat...sweet potatoes can (like too much pumpkin) give smaller breeds diarrhea. If I had a dog <30lbs, I'd start with two chews, chilled, and work my way up.

                                                        1. re: chococat

                                                          If you have access to a food dehydrator they are super easy and cheap to make. The vet loved them too as she said they were lower in calories than other dog treats.

                                                        2. raw bones, no don't cook them first. Give him ones large enough he can't swallow them whole since you want him to use it for chewing purposes not food.

                                                            1. re: hal2010

                                                              my boy likes wood too, and there's really no stopping him (he also like rocks, small rodents, old clothes, cardboard, charcoal etc.), but last Fall at the clinic where I volunteer a few hours a week, the DVM had to remove a piece of wood that had wedged sideways in that dog's upper palate and was starting to ulcerate.

                                                              it often is about the splinters.

                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                yeah but ya gotta wonder about the sugars in carrots, in small amounts they are great, yet it is a consideration.

                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                  i worried less about the sugars in veggies and fruits than i did anything wheat-based. i did give my dogs rice and sometimes potatoes, but never anything made from wheat.

                                                                  oh, and my dogs never had bad breath or dental issues. :)