By Katie Harris
A very common question we are asked is "What can I give them to chew on other than rawhide, socks, wood, etc?"
There are lots of good chewing toys on the market now. We never recommend rawhide for goldens--their jaws are strong, and they rip it off in chunks that can't be digested which leads to them throwing it back up or (in rare instances) having to be surgically removed. However, there are now some great options so we really don't need rawhide anymore...
Sterilized Bones--these are heat treated beef bones, very, very hard, that dogs typically love. You can buy these through a catalog (I'd get at least 4 big ones to have around) or at the pet store (but you'll pay a high markup). They're hollow in the middle so you can stuff them with peanut butter, velveeta cheese, liverwurst or any type of sausage-like treat (available at some pet stores) that is soft and squishy. Stuffing them helps encourage the dog to work on them for a very long time, and if he breaks off pieces they will be small and not sharp. If they get dirty you can run them through the dishwasher (WITHOUT SOAP). I keep a pile in the fridge and dole them out in the morning (I have a golden that is totally orally fixated and has to have lots of chewing time daily). You can also make these bones yourself easily out of soup bones if you have a grocery store with a butcher you can work with. I make mine now for about $1.50 a bone, and they last a long time. If you'd like to know how, see below.
Booda Velvet Bones--these are made out of cornstarch, come in different flavors and sizes, and require a good bit of work as well. Totally edible...
Potato Pop-Pups--made out of potato and come in different sizes and flavors. They require a fair amount of work (when a dog gets older, you can microwave these to make them softer if needed).
Veggie and fruit bones--made by nylabone, as are the previous two. These are not as hard--a golden can work through a large one in 15-20 minutes. But, they tend to LOVE them, so are good as gourmet treats or for rainy days...I haven't found a golden yet who doesn't like the bones made out of carrots! My dogs also like the bacon bones, and I'm going to try them on banana since mine like true bananas occasionally.
Regular Nylabones--these are smooth and hard, and some dogs (the young ones, in my experience) like that texture/consistency and will chew them. My dogs don't like them, and I find little pieces of nylon all over the floor to step on when they do deign to chew them, but they can be a great alternative for a busy chewer.
For all of these I recommend trying one or two flavors and then ordering in bulk from a catalog. Once you know what your dogs will like, you can save up to 70% over pet stores. If you try the basted beef sterilized bones, I'd leave them outside--they're smelly and can stain a carpet. I haven't had that problem with regular sterilized bones or the others I mentioned.
Toys you may try are a rubber Kong--it's designed in such a way that when thrown it will not bounce in a straight line, and it's also hollow (ergo, stuffable with food treats). Some dogs like working on it, and it is hard rubber, so it will last a while. Lastly, Knotted Ropes, (also act like dental floss) and Tennis Balls are also golden favorites.
Sterilized Bone Recipe
By Katie Harris
Goldens love to chew. A great way for them to chew safely, and clean their teeth is to give them sterilized bones. You can buy these or make them yourself. Here's the economical and tasty way to make your own:
Go to Central Market or Whole Foods, and ask the butcher for a beef soup bone. Usually they have them in the freezer and they're BIG suckers--I think it's a femur bone. Ask him to cut off the knobby ends, and usually cut the long portion in half (thus creating two nice-sized bones for you). Bring them home...
Boil them about 10-15 minutes, and the marrow will fall out or can be pushed out easily.
Bake them in an oven at 315 degrees for an hour (there's usually some fat on the outside and I keep that on, and bake them on a rack over a cookie sheet lined with foil so that some flavor bakes in).
After they cool, I trim off the fat that I can, and hand them out! If they're hollow, you can stuff them later with Velveeta, peanut butter, liverwurst or a turkey sausage roll that Tomlinson's pet stores sells that's smelly but not messy. That encourages the dogs to keep working on them.
Dentistry at the vet is a necessary thing if this doesn't really clean them up. It keeps all kinds of nasty health problems from occurring. I get my dogs' teeth cleaned every 1-2 years, depending on how dirty they've become.