Thursday, July 21, 2016

Are Rope Tug Toys Good For a Dog's Teeth?

Will your dogs have healthier teeth if they play with rope tug toys? Evidence in our family says the answer is "yes."
Jacey shows off her healthy teeth
and beautiful smile.
Reviewing Rope Tug Toys for Dogs


It's sad when a young family member has problems with their teeth, even when that family member happens to be a beloved family pet. Case in point, as our gorgeous grandpup Adrian has aged (she's nine now) she's developed major problems with her teeth. Despite consuming treats meant to clean teeth, she's had an abscessed tooth and even had to have a few teeth pulled. These days she's scheduled for frequent doggy-dental checkups and cleanings to monitor her dental health.

Enter Jacey. She's our youngest grandpup, a gentle giant at 11 months, 120-plus pounds and still growing. Jacey has perfect teeth, beautiful and white with a pretty smile that matches her easy-going, happy disposition. And while Jacey is much younger than Adrian, our grandpups' mommy (daughter-in-law Mandy) insists that what has kept Jacey's teeth so white and healthy, and what she expects to keep those teeth healthy throughout Jacey's life, is her knotted-rope tug toys. These toys have always been her favorite, toys that she carries around with her and chews on frequently. Mandy believes that it's the flossing action of the rope as it's chewed that has kept Jacey's teeth so white, clean, and healthy.

Adrian never played with rope tug toys. Jacey always has. Guess which dog has healthy teeth.
Adrian, with her summer haircut, and Jacey,
hanging out on the deck.

Growing up, Adrian never really played with a rope tug toy (or a "tug flosser," as Mandy calls it). If Adrian had played with a tug flosser, would she be having the dental problems that she has now? Mandy believes that she would not and wishes after every expensive vet visit (doggy dental care isn't cheap) that Adrian had been raised playing with a rope tug toy, too, like her sister Jacey.

I've read articles that back up the theory that rope tug toys are very effective for cleaning a dog's teeth. Many manufacturers of rope toys for dogs make that claim as well.



The makers of this Nylabone DuraToy Dental Knot rope tug toy recommend their toy specifically for your dog's dental health. While it's the design of the Nylabone that is made to clean a dog's teeth, the rope also serves as a flosser. It's even flavored with mint! Brush and floss daily. Good advice even for our pets.

Have a puppy or a tiny breed? This little Kong Goodie Bone with rope would be an excellent product to try with your little dog. It's a great introduction to tugging as a game and a very good way to get your dog started with its own tug flosser in order to keep its teeth nice and clean. (Note that many people prefer the Kong brand because their products are made in the United States.)


There are many other rope tug toys or chew toys to choose from. Check out ValuePet's selection of dog rope toys here. If you prefer just a rope tug toy that doesn't include a rubber or nylon chew toy with it, you might be able to find one for your dog at your local Walmart store. Or choose from Walmart's online selection of dog rope toys. Be sure to choose a toy in the size that best fits the dog. If she's a puppy, replace her small rope toy with a bigger one as she grows.


Are Rope Toys Safe for Dogs?


That's a good question, one that's important to address. The answer involves parental discretion and knowing your dog and its habits. While most of the time dogs do just fine with rope tug toys, I have read cases of dogs pulling out the thin strings that make up a rope, swallowing those strings, and facing serious issues within their digestive tracts as a result. Some have needed surgery; others have suffered even worse consequences. That's why, in our household, we don't use rope toys for our dog, Daisy. She loves to use her teeth to pull toys apart (especially if there's a squeaker involved) and is more likely than not to swallow the pieces. So we use extreme discretion when it comes to her toys. However, that's just Daisy and none of the dogs we've had in the past have had the issue of eating their toys.

I definitely plan on trying a rope tug toy for any dog that comes into our lives in the future, but I would only allow the dog, especially if it's a puppy, to chew on any new toy under strict supervision. That's advice I would recommend to any pet owner. Learn your dog's habits and choose toys accordingly.

Will your dogs have healthier teeth if they regularly play with rope tug toys? Probably. No one can guarantee it, but Mandy assures us that this method has worked for them and I believe it. It definitely could work for your dog, too.

~ Susan
Read more of my reviews here.

(Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.)

Personal photos ©A. Deppner, all rights reserved

Jacey says, "Give your dogs rope tug toys to help maintain their healthy smiles."
Jacey says, "Give your dogs rope tug toys to help maintain their healthy smiles!"




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

8 comments:

  1. An excellent review of rope toys for dogs. I didn't realize that chewing on doggy rope toys was good for a dog's teeth.

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    1. Thanks! I didn't realize it either, Elf, until Mandy talked about it. Makes sense, though, the brushing and flossing action.

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  2. Jacey is gorgeous and very photogenic! A very pretty girl, indeed. I have no doubt that Adrian is a beauty too! Dental procedures for dogs can definitely get very expensive. Having a inexpensive toy that will help clean their teeth would be fabulous. I really appreciate your notes about parental supervision. Our dogs are like your Daisy. They both tend to tear chew toys apart and I know they would ingest pieces of the rope toys, which is sad because I would love to have a toy that helped clean their teeth. The first time we had to pay the dentist to clean one of our dogs teeth, I myself nearly gagged! The cost for cleaning a dogs teeth is astronomical in my opinion. Not saying the vets don't earn every cent of it when cleaning their teeth, but it is a hard hit financially on just about any family.

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    1. You're right about the expense, Cynthia. It's definitely a hard hit. I hope people will try these rope toys, especially starting out with a puppy and monitoring how the dog acts with the toy, praising and encouraging the dog when it chews properly. I think a puppy could be trained that way so eventually they could trust the dog with the toy for longer periods of time. That's what Mandy and Stephen did with Jacey. And yes, she's very pretty and definitely not camera shy! Thank you!

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  3. That is something I never thought of in regards to pet health. It does make sense. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Lorelei! I appreciate your comment.

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  4. I love how Jacey's legs are crossed! Great article. I completely agree about knowing your dog and supervising with toys. My rattie's (past and present) are fine with rope toys. Willy is not. He shreds it and eats it. But I also agree that I believe dogs have healthier teeth if they "floss".

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    1. Thanks for your input, Dawn. It's good to hear from someone who has had success with rope toys and also understands that they're not appropriate in some cases. Yes, Jacey is a little lady. Well, she hasn't been little since she was a baby, so make that a "big" lady!

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