Being a pet parent is a full-time job, especially when they are younger. A small puppy requires a lot of care and attention, not unlike a baby. You need to always ensure they are safe, happy and taken care of.
During the puppy stage, the little pooch also requires something that will alleviate the itchy sensation in their gums caused by teething. They constantly need something to chew on and if you do not want to see parts of your furniture missing, it is important to find them the right thing to chew on.
Beef tendons are one of the best options you can consider for your puppy or even a grown dog. They are nutritious, can last for hours and are also delicious! But what happens if your puppy swallows the beef tendon whole? The following sections will take you through what a beef tendon is and what you should do if your puppy swallows it.
What Are Beef Tendons?
Beef tendons are the tissues that hold the muscle and the bone together. They are usually soft yet strong tissues that have great elasticity and can withstand a lot of tension. Since they are strong and fibrous tissues, they can be cooked down for a long time and are great for making stews or slow-cooked broths.
However, when it comes to beef tendons for dogs, it is not the same as a flavourful curry or stew that human beings may enjoy. The benefit of beef tendons for a dog is in how flexible they are, which makes it very satisfactory for them to chew on.
Beef tendon chews for dogs are usually sourced from the Achilles tendon, but any long tendon from a cow is suitable. The tendon is dried and makes a great chew toy for a teething puppy.
The tendons are usually air-dried or simply left out in the sun to dehydrate. While you can get beef tendons in the market that are simply dried with no other treatment, some tendons may also be twisted or braided into a certain shape which is useful for keeping your dog’s teeth clean.
Are They Good for Puppies?
Beef tendons can be very beneficial for teething puppies. Since this is the tendon, it is low on fat though the bit may taste like it is high in fat content. Besides, for dogs, the tendon is dehydrated which makes it even easier for dogs to digest.
Beef tendons are also high in protein which is great for boosting strength at the puppy’s formative age. Even for senior dogs, beef tendons can be very useful as the nutrients are great for healthy joint cartilage and can be beneficial for dogs prone to osteoarthritis.
Other than the nutritional benefits of beef tendons, it is also a great way to keep excitable puppies engaged for a long time. The constant chewing motion also releases endorphins which will also keep your dog in good spirits and relaxed. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety or is adjusting to a new environment as a pup, a beef tendon chewy can be very useful.
In addition to keeping an excitable or anxious puppy engaged, since beef tendons are tough to chew they are also great for a dog’s dental hygiene. Especially if the tendon is twisted, there is an abrasion motion created against the teeth which keeps the enamel clean and reduces plaque buildup.
This keeps infections at bay and will also provide relief from itchy gums. Instead of chewing on furniture legs, it is better for a dog to chew on a juicy piece of beef tendon.
What to Do If Your Puppy Swallowed a Beef Tendon?
Chewing a beef tendon should not pose any grave risk to your dog. The tendon is easy to digest and should not create any blockage or obstruction once it is in your dog’s system.
However, you should also keep an eye on your dog when they are chewing on a tendon and take the piece away when it is small enough to swallow. If your dog or pup has a tendency to swallow treats enthusiastically, this is even more important.
In most cases, it should not be a problem but in the case of puppies, for instance, you should probably show more caution as the oesophagal passage is still small.
If you find that your puppy has swallowed a beef tendon, the following are some of the things you may want to look out for:
Is It Creating a Throat Blockage/Choking?
The first thing to do is to check if the tendon is creating a blockage in the throat or choking the dog. This is usually the case with puppies who have still not learned how to gauge the size of items they can swallow.
If your puppy is choking, there will be no ambiguity regarding this. You will be able to tell when they are choking as they will try to gag and become frantic trying to get the obstruction out. It is important to act fast in this case.
The obstruction can cause the windpipe to choke up, which leads to suffocation and possibly even death. Even if you can hear the pup wheezing despite the obstruction, it means air is passing through.
But it is still important to get the obstruction out as if enough oxygen is not introduced into the system, the puppy may faint and the result could also be fatal.
If the puppy needs the Heimlich manoeuvre, you should get into the position to do that depending on the size of the dog.
In case the dog is unconscious, you can try to pull its tongue out which may dislodge the object. Be careful not to do this if the dog is conscious as you will certainly get bitten.
Of course, performing first aid also means you need to be accurate in the steps you take. It would be preferred if you had some practice or training beforehand, for emergencies just like this.
Whether you are performing the first aid yourself or not, it is important to contact the vet immediately and prepare to take the dog into the emergency room. It would be helpful to have the air-conditioning on if you are going to the hospital by car as dogs pant to cool down. Any obstruction in the throat will prevent them from panting.
Do You Notice Any Symptoms?
Even if the dog is not choking, it is important to keep an eye on them if you have noticed they have swallowed the beef tendon. If the piece they have swallowed is too large, it may be difficult for it to break down in the stomach and may cause a gastric obstruction.
If the puppy shows signs of stomach pain or bloating after swallowing a beef tendon, that situation requires attention. It could be a sign that the tendon is causing an intestinal obstruction. The puppy may also refuse food and have nausea.
A tendon that is causing obstruction inside the body could also lead to constipation, lethargy and severe abdominal pain. It is not uncommon for dogs to swallow parts of a beef tendon or even the whole piece.
More often than not, the tendon breaks down in the body easily since it is a low-fat treat. However, if the piece is too big it may be difficult for the stomach acids to break it down.
If that is the case, you should look out for symptoms like the above even if your puppy did not choke on the tendon as it can go inside the body and cause an obstruction.
If you notice any signs of discomfort or find that your dog is acting out of order, you should contact the vet immediately. Even if it is routine, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your beloved pet.
Ways to Prevent Choking
One of the simplest ways to prevent your puppy from choking on a beef tendon is to simply not give it to them. However, that seems like an overreaction since it is, after all, delicious and your puppy will love it.
Beef tendon as a treat also has several incredible benefits for your puppy as mentioned above, especially if the little guy is teething and needs something delicious to chew on. They are tough and can take a few hours for your pup to work through, keeping them engaged for a long time.
However, there are a few things you can do to prevent them from choking on a beef tendon:
Give Them a Big Piece
Be sure to give your puppy a large piece that they cannot swallow. With softer food, you may have the impulse to cut it into smaller pieces. While that is the right thing to do in that situation, with a tendon or a bone, you want to ensure the piece is large enough so they are not tempted to swallow it.
If your puppy can simply pop the piece of a beef tendon in their mouth, it is likely that they will swallow it, or try to, without any qualms.
Take It away When It’s Small Enough to Swallow
Even when you give your puppy a large tendon, by the time they chew through it the last portion of the tendon will be small enough that they can swallow it. It would be best if you removed it at this point to prevent them from swallowing it whole.
Even if the piece is small enough that they can swallow it, there is a chance a puppy may choke on it. Therefore, it is best to avoid this situation and simply take the last part of the tendon away when it is small enough to swallow.
Give Them a Plain Tendon
The benefits of a twisted or a braided tendon have been described above to reduce plaque and keep the enamel clean. It is like your dog’s very own toothbrush! However, the twists or braids are more prone to causing obstructions than the plain ones. The knot in the twisted tendons can lodge in the throat and pose a danger of choking.
Keep an Eye!
It is certainly difficult to keep an eye on your puppy at all times, especially if they are energetic and like to get up to mischief. However, at least when you present them with the tendon or some kind of treat that poses a choking hazard, you should make sure they are where you can see them.
Keeping an eye on them will allow you to take the last piece of the tendon away when it becomes small enough to swallow. If you are around you will also be able to intervene in time in case of an emergency.
The Final Word
Beef tendons are delicious and nutritious chew toys for a puppy. They are high on protein, low on fat and will keep your pet engaged for a long time. Big dogs may even manage to scoff down a whole tendon at once, so there is no reason to be alarmed. They break down easily in the body and can be digested with ease.
However, a big dog swallowing a whole tendon is not the same as a puppy swallowing a whole tendon. Sure, your pup may have a great appetite and may be able to manage big meals.
But they are still in the nascent stages of development and a whole tendon may be difficult for their stomach acids to break down, that is if it does not cause an obstruction in the throat, to begin with.
But there is no need to be averse to giving your puppy beef tendon for these reasons. You can simply keep an eye on them when they have a chew and ensure you take it away when it becomes small enough to swallow.
The benefits of beef tendon certainly outweigh the risks, if you are careful. So there is no need to deny your puppy the delights of a juicy beef tendon!