What’s in your pet’s tummy?

Chewing is a natural and healthy behavior for dogs

My dog Wheatie loves sticks and paper towels. If he had his way, our daily walks would include many stops for munching on sticks, twigs, and paper towels scraps. His fascination with these items resulted in me teaching him an excellent “drop it.” Sometimes, now, I almost think he just picks up a stick or paper scrap to wait for my command so he can spit it out to get a yummy treat! Pets can eat crazy things. In an online survey, Petcurean asked 1,356 dog and cat owners about their pets. One of the questions they asked was to list the strangest thing their dog or cat had ever eaten. The top choices were:

  • Underwear — 12 percent
  • Books — 8 percent
  • Cell phone or wallet — 3 percent

When Wheatie was a puppy, he definitely enjoyed nibbling on underwear, devoured a thriller from the library and the corner of my Physician’s Desk Reference, and found my husband’s wallet to be a delicious after-dinner treat. These incidents soon taught us he needed more supervision and we needed to keep these attractive items out of reach. Other items people mentioned in the survey were: brake lights, zippers, back scratchers, hair brushes, Christmas ornaments, cough drops, an artificial Christmas tree, flip flops, video games, diamond rings, and a wide assortment of paper and plastic items. Bet those diamond ring eaters were really in the dog house!

They also asked people about whether certain foods were unhealthy for pets. Almost everyone knew that chocolate’s not healthy for pets (88 percent), while only 45 percent knew that grapes can be toxic for dogs. Interestingly, people often thought that some of the autumn treats we’re getting ready to enjoy were harmful to pets. Only one in four people knew that pumpkin can be healthy for pets. I like to add an occasional scoop of pumpkin to Wheatie’s kibble to help his digestive system. One in three people thought cranberries were harmful to pets, although they can be a good source of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Chewing is important for dogs—it helps work and clean their teeth and gum. Chewing also helps burn off extra energy and clearly dogs find chewing fun, fun, fun. This survey helps show us that our pets can eat the unexpected—including things that can be harmful to them. Make sure you supervise your pet and give him or her safe items to fulfill their fondness for chewing.

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