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Whilst my initial research on what to feed Ted focussed on meals rather than treats and chews, once I understood that commercial pet food contained many many ingredients that I did not feel comfortable feeding Ted I became more alert when I started looking for treats and chews.

I once spent at least 10 minutes in the treat aisles at Pets At Home reading packets to work out if there was anything that I would be happy giving him. Ok, so some of that time was spent making sure Ted didn’t mark as we got to the corner of an aisle but I did look at a lot of packets, including all the ones labelled “natural”. I came away with nothing! The only item I felt was ok (tucked away on the bottom shelf) had sold out.

As I make my own treats and have a number of recipes (which I will be sharing with you as I make them) I wasn’t that fussed and didn’t really spend any more time doing research. Then yesterday a friend posted a link to a really interesting, if scary, site http://poisonedpets.com/. Mollie Morrissette has done a great job of bringing all this information into one place. I’d like to spend more time reading it and maybe do a post or two on what I learn at some point.

It provides details of product recalls for pet food, treats and chews and whilst I am very wary of the ingredients in commercial food I have to say I was a little surprised by how much of it ends up being recalled due to causing serious illness and death in our pets. Even more incentive to provide Ted with a raw meaty bones based diet that I can source myself.

Chewing is good for dogs, it provides stress relief and exercise. Ted’s raw meaty bones provide him with lots of chewing, last night’s rabbit for example took him about 30 minutes in total, most of it was gone in 10 minutes then he spent a further 20 working on the remaining larger bone, lots of chewing work. But I have found a few natural chews, to supplement his raw meaty bones chewing time, that Ted really likes so I thought I’d share those with you in case you’ve not heard of them.

Stagbars! Yep they are what you think they are, antler pieces.  Be careful of imitation ones, you can get them straight from the “manufacturer” Puredog who say:

“Chewing releases, feel-good chemicals from the brain and keeps dogs happy, busy and using up energy. Stagbars last longer than any other dog chew on the market – longer than rawhide chews or compacted vegetable starch chews. They wear down slowly with the grinding action of the dog’s teeth and saliva, into tasty morsels. Eventually, the dry marrow is exposed as a lovely treat when the outside has been worn away. They are suitable for puppies who are teething.

Stagbars don’t contain nylon like some long lasting chews. They are not an ‘empty’ chew like rawhide and contain important minerals.

They clean the dog’s teeth, rather than bung them up and they’re great for dogs with sensitive tummies. Even dogs who are losing weight can enjoy Stagbars because they only contain a tiny amount of fat. Naturally, they don’t contain additives or preservatives.

Stagbars are clean dog chews, leaving no stain or mess on the carpet and they are also very low in odour – some say they have a very faint smell of fresh soil. They are effectively ‘raw’ and so retain all their goodness and safety.”

Ted really likes them and I know other people who’s dogs (of all shapes and sizes) love them too. They are a lot more expensive than many of the chews you see in shops but they last a lot longer, people talk about how long their dog’s stagbar has lasted in terms of months! I reckon if you calculated the cost per chewing hour stagbars would be veeeeery reasonably priced, if not the cheapest! But the main thing is they don’t contain horrible chemicals and (with the usual recommendations about supervising and removing once the chew is small enough for the dog to swallow) are safe for your dog.

Here’s Ted with his, he carries it around with him quite a lot and will disappear off with it for a bit of chewing, giving me time to write the blog 🙂