Keep Chewing Behavior From Becoming a Medical Emergency

Dogs are natural chewers — and it’s hard to think of anything they won’t chew on. Socks? Yes. Underwear? You bet. Leftovers you thought were safely stowed away in the trash can? Of course! You don’t want to find your favorite things in shreds (just think how this woman felt when her Lab puppy swallowed her $23,000 wedding rings), and you don’t want to have to take your dog to the vet emergency room. Thankfully, you can discourage your puppy or adult dog from chewing on your favorite things by following the five tips below.

5 Ways to Redirect Inappropriate Chewing

Picking up toys 590


Dog-proof your home.

Want to know the best way to prevent your dog from chewing shoes, kids' toys and other inappropriate items? Train the humans in your household to keep those items hidden away from your canine. Something as simple as closing the door to your living room could stop Rocky from tearing up the couch cushions. You may also want to consider crating your dog when you’re not able to supervise his chewing habits.

Dog with Kong in mouth


Give your dog something appropriate to chew on.

Your dog doesn’t know that ingesting your dirty socks could land him in the vet ER. That’s why it’s so important to give him toys he can safely chew. Try giving him a food puzzle filled with frozen treats — it could occupy him for hours. Be sure to switch out his toys every now and then to maintain his interest in them.

Puppy walking on leash


Make sure he has an outlet for his excess energy.

Some dogs chew simply because they're bored and have nothing else to do. Combat this lack of enrichment by making sure your dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation. Your pup may enjoy going for walks, learning new tricks or (health permitting) trying a dog sport like agility. And if you and your pooch haven’t tried food puzzles yet, you definitely should — they can engage his brain and help redirect excess energy.

Puppy chewing slippers


Don’t punish your dog's chewing behavior.

If you come home to find your favorite high heels in pieces all over the floor, resist the urge to punish your dog. Yes, this is a frustrating (and potentially wallet-busting) situation, but yelling at your pup will only make things worse. Punishment may cause your dog to start hiding when he chews, which will make it harder to curb the behavior. Instead, if you catch him chewing inappropriate items, interrupt him with “oops” and give him an appropriate toy. Then give him plenty of praise for chewing on the right objects.

Dog pulling on toy


Teach your dog to "drop it."

Unfortunately, even if you are doing everything you should (and following all the advice we’ve already mentioned), your dog may still chew on or swallow dangerous items. According to the veterinary professionals we surveyed, some breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, are more likely to chew on things they shouldn't in adulthood than others. Fortunately, teaching your pup the "drop it" command could save him from a trip to the ER. "Drop it" trains your dog to willingly and immediately give up what’s in his mouth. Check out this helpful video from Mikkel Becker to learn how to teach this important command.

If you suspect your dog has ingested a foreign object, check with your veterinarian right away to see if there's anything you should do immediately — and be prepared for a veterinary visit. Depending on what he ate, the foreign object may pass, but some objects can cause serious issues. Needles, glass, bones or other sharp items can potentially puncture the intestines, and coins can be toxic. Fortunately, some objects (needles, coins, bones) will be visible on a radiograph, and endoscopy can sometimes be used to remove them.

And, of course, if your dog starts vomiting or seems uncomfortable, take him to the veterinarian right away.

More on Vetstreet:


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!