Dogs love to chew and finding appropriate chew toys for them can be challenging. Chew toys and bones are essential for nearly every dog. They help burn energy and stave off boredom.
But some chew toys are safer than others, and some are far more interesting to most dogs than others. Choosing from the wide array of available options can be overwhelming.
Nylabones are one of the most popular chew toy brands that dog owners can easily access. However, because Nylabones are synthetic, dog owners might wonder: are Nylabones safe for dogs? Before giving your dog these toys, it’s best to consider several factors to ensure their safety while chewing and playing.
What Are Nylabones?
Nylabones are chew toys designed to last a long time. Since 1955, the company has produced several chew toys with different shapes, flavors, and sizes to match every dog’s chewing strength.
Nylabones use thermoplastic polymers when making their chew toys. It’s a plastic that becomes malleable when heated to a specific temperature and solidifies when cooled. You can find this material in most plastic, nylon, and rubber toys.
Benefits of Nylabones
Nylabones help to prevent destructive chewing stemming from boredom or separation anxiety. When a dog is left unsupervised, they can get into trouble. This problem is amplified when you leave them alone for several hours, such as when you go to work or the store.
Nylabones are excellent tools for redirecting their chewing habits from your belongings to theirs, especially when starting young. In addition, some models have nubs on their surface which can help clean teeth as the Nylabone functions as a dental chew.
Although Nylabones contain non-toxic materials and promote healthier chewing habits, they can become a hazard when left unsupervised just like any other dog toy. Like traditional bones, dogs shouldn’t swallow non-edible Nylabones.
While most Nylabones are durable enough to last for extended periods, they’re not 100% indestructible. Heavy and aggressive chewers can bite through smaller bones to test their strength. Dogs with sharp teeth can also break tiny shards off the Nylabone, which they can accidentally swallow.
Swallowing large chunks from the Nylabone’s ends can disrupt your dog’s digestion and cause gastrointestinal blockage, which can become fatal if left unnoticed.
If your dog ate a Nylabone or a large part of one, take them to the vet immediately. Tell the vet how much of it you believe your dog swallowed. Your dog may need emergency surgery if your veterinarian takes an x-ray and deduces that the piece is too large for your dog to excrete.
To avoid paying an expensive surgery bill or risking your dog’s life, supervise your dog whenever they’re playing with their Nylabone.
If your dog ingests small Nylabone dental nubs, they can pass through your dog’s system within a few hours. However, you should stay alert for symptoms, such as bloating, vomiting, and a loss of appetite.
As your dog makes progress chewing away at their Nylabone, may notice white specks in your dog’s poop. These are the tiny shavings from the Nylabone and generally do not present any problem.
A Nylabone slowly and gradually getting smaller in size is a good thing — it means the dog is enjoying it. After all, if a dog were to make no progress in chewing their bone, they would likely lose interest quickly.
Nylabones come in several flavors, such as chicken, turkey, bacon, and peanut butter. However, some dogs might be allergic to specific ingredients, so it would be best to avoid ones containing the allergens and pick a safer alternative, in the same manner as how you pick your dog’s food.
Damage to Their Teeth
Nylabones have durable plastic, rubber, and nylon surfaces with hard surfaces. Unfortunately, dogs who like biting hard can damage their teeth on a Nylabone. Most Nylabones won’t show an imprint when you press or scratch it, signifying that it’s too hard for your dog.
With any hard bone or chew toy, there is always the possibility of broken teeth or a chipped tooth. Unless your dog has a history of tooth fractures, it is hard to predict the risk of such injuries. Generally speaking, the risk is low and falls into the territory of simply being a dog and chewing on hard objects.
Are Nylabones Safe for Puppies?
Finding chew toys for teething puppies can be overwhelming for first-time owners, especially when looking for the safest options. Nylabone offers several products specifically designed for puppies. Most puppy chews have an age and weight limit, so it would be wise to follow those guidelines to ensure safety for your puppy.
As long as you pick one that’s small enough to chew on and large enough to prevent them from swallowing, you can give Nylabones to puppies.
Be aware that a puppy’s chewing habits will often change drastically during the “teething” phase (usually 12-24 weeks old) when their puppy teeth are falling out and their permanent teeth are growing in. It is a very stressful time for them and you may notice swollen or bleeding gums, excessive whining, and mood swings.
Teething puppies will often want to chew on anything in sight. Nylabone teething rings and teething pacifiers are soft and have raised nubs on their surfaces which help massage a puppy’s sensitive gums.
Nylabone’s Non-Edible Chew Disclaimer
Before we delve into the safety precautions you should follow when giving your dog these chew toys, let’s look at Nylabone’s disclaimer about non-edible chews. This insight should give you an excellent idea of what to expect when asking, “are Nylabones safe for dogs?”
The main takeaways from this disclaimer include:
- Non-edible Nylabones aren’t for consumption
- If a large chunk of the Nylabone goes missing, take the toy away from your dog and contact your veterinarian
- Tiny bristle nubs can pass through your dog’s system if ingested
- Check the Nylabone’s condition regularly for any damage or missing parts
- You can’t boil Nylabones or wash them in appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines
- Replace the Nylabone if it becomes too small for safe chewing
Nylabone Safety Tips
Before giving Nylabones to your dog or puppy, it would be best to consider these factors to ensure they won’t become a hazard to their safety.
Choosing What to Buy
When buying safe Nylabones, consider the following factors:
- Size: Consider this to prevent large dogs from swallowing smaller bones, and smaller dogs from hurting their teeth on larger bones.
- Durability: Dogs can bite through softer toys quicker, and harder ones can damage their teeth and jaws. It would be best to find one with a balanced feel.
- Hardness: If you can’t press into the Nylabone with your thumbnail, it might be too hard for your dog to chew.
- Your Dog’s Chewing Level: Some dog breeds are heavier chewers than others, so it would be wise to check their chewing behavior and chewing style before finding a suitable toy.
Non-edible Nylabones come in four sizes, from smallest to largest: Puppy, Moderate, Strong, and Power. Ideally, the Nylabone you choose for your dog should match their age, size, weight, and chewing habits.
For example, Power Nylabone chews are more appropriate for dogs weighing over 50 pounds or extreme chewers than smaller dogs with gentler chewing habits.
Due to their thermoplastic polymer properties, it would be best to keep your dog’s Nylabone away from harsh chemicals and temperatures. It would also be wise to store them in a stable environment when your dog doesn’t want to play with them.
How to Sanitize a Nylabone
The best and safest way to sanitize a Nylabone is by handwashing it with a brush with mild non-toxic detergents and rinsing it with warm water.
It’s best that you didn’t sanitize a Nylabone by boiling it in water or putting it in a microwave oven or dishwasher. These methods can break down the Nylabone’s fibers and weaken them, making your dog more likely to chew pieces off.
When to Discard a Nylabone
The best time to discard a Nylabone is when the toy’s knuckle ends wear down or when parts become so small they can snap off.
Here is an example of a Nylabone that was likely left with a dog for too long. One knuckle and the shaft of the bone will likely not be swallowed by a dog, but this single knuckle is a risk for a large dog to swallow whole. (This chewed Nylabone Galileo represents six years of chewing by an 80 pound dog.)
Safe Alternatives to Nylabones
If you’re worried about giving your dog a non-edible Nylabone, consider using these safe alternatives:
- Bully Sticks – long-lasting and digestible
- Himalayan Dog Chews – Long-lasting, digestible, and microwavable
- Kong Classic – Rounded shape makes it more challenging to break through and has a smooth surface
So to answer the question, “are Nylabones safe for dogs?”, you should be happy to know that, yes, Nylabones are safe, as long as you keep a close eye on your dog and give them one that’s appropriate for their chewing ability and size.
Proper care for your dog’s Nylabone also reduces the chances of your dog putting themself at risk. Of course, every dog is different, so it is important to find the Nylabone model that appropriately matches your dog’s individual chewing style, chewing power, and love for gnawing.