Are Tendon Chews Safe for Dogs? Treat Options to Try

These tasty alternatives are generally more digestible and less risky than traditional chews, but there are a few issues to consider first.

Updated June 8, 2022
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Woman gives chewy snack to a Rottweiler

Chewing is an important activity for dogs. It has calming benefits, relieves stress, and can even improve their oral health. However, some chew treats carry more risks than benefits. If you're wondering about the safety of tendons, you can enjoy peace of mind that tendon chews are generally safe for dogs. Tendons can be a great alternative to harder chews like bones or antlers, which can damage a dog's teeth, and are more digestible than rawhides. Keep in mind, any chew, treat, or toy can serve as a choking hazard, so it's important to supervise your pet while they enjoy a tendon chew.

What Are Tendon Dog Chews?

Tendons are tough, flexible cords of fibrous collagen tissue that attach muscles to bones. Because they're so chewy, tendons are often separated from the meat commercially produced for humans and processed for use as dog treats. They are typically dehydrated or air-dried, and some are twisted together in pairs, braided, or pressed.

A set of chewing treats

Health Benefits of Tendons for Dogs

Many experts and pet owners choose natural chews like tendons over other available options because they carry several positive health benefits.

  • The chewing action can help prevent plaque and tartar buildup on your dog's teeth.
  • Tendons are high in glucosamine and chondroitin, which are natural components of cartilage and can improve joint health.
  • Dogs can digest tendons, so they are unlikely to create a blockage in a dog's stomach or intestines.
  • They contain natural collagen, which can benefit the skin, fur, joints, and connective tissues.
  • Tendons are generally not hard or rigid like bones, so they're unlikely to damage a dog's teeth while they chew.
  • Most are high in protein and low in fat.
  • Chewing on tendons can reduce anxiety, stress, and boredom in dogs.

Potential Dangers

No chew treat is entirely free of risks. While tendons are generally safe for most dogs, there are some potential dangers to be aware of.

Dog waiting for a treat
  • Tendons can serve as a choking hazard, particularly when they are chewed down to a short piece.
  • Aggressive chewers may consume them very quickly.
  • They can cause an upset stomach in dogs with sensitive digestive tracts or food allergies.
  • Bacterial contamination, such as Salmonella or E. coli, is possible with any meat product.
  • Dogs should be supervised while consuming these chews.

Types of Tendon Treats

You can find commercial tendon chews from various types of animals.

Beef Tendons

Beef tendons are the most commonly found type of tendon treats for dogs. They're readily available at most pet stores and are relatively inexpensive. Due to the large size of beef tendons, most come as a single tendon or "stick."

Turkey Tendons

Turkey tendons are also very popular and can be found at most pet supply stores and online retailers. Turkey tendons are smaller in size, though you can still buy them in small, single sticks. However, they're also commonly pressed together in larger pieces or braided into rings. Many people believe turkey tendons are more easily digestible than beef tendons because the treats are made up of smaller strands. This also means they may not last as long as the larger beef chews.

Novel Protein Tendons

More unusual types of tendons are also available, including buffalo, venison, and even ostrich tendons. These products are generally more expensive than the more common varieties. These novel protein tendons are a great option for dogs with food allergies who cannot tolerate beef or turkey.

Tendons vs. Rawhide

Tendons are different from rawhide chews. Rawhide comes from the skin of animals, while a tendon is basically sinew, such as the Achilles tendon. Most veterinarians do not recommend owners give their dogs rawhide treats because they can be difficult to digest. Rawhides been known to cause intestinal blockages in dogs when they swallow a large piece and also present a choking hazard.

Where to Find Tendon Chews

Of course, your local pet store is always a great option when purchasing tendons for your dog. When you buy in person, you can evaluate the quality and size of the tendon before settling on a product. Still, it's tough to beat the prices and convenience of online shopping.

A hand places a pet treat in a paper bag
  • - Chewy offers a good selection of tendon chews, including Nature's Logic Beef Tendon Dog Treats. These chews are made from Midwestern cattle, and they come in a one-pound bag. This brand also claims not to use any preservatives or artificial flavoring.
  • - This online retailer offers its own brand of beef tendon chews, and they claim the only ingredient in their product is 100 percent beef. You can buy a pack of five chews or purchase in bundles of 10, 25, 50, or 100.
  • - This online and retail store pet product supplier carries a wide variety of beef and turkey tendon chews. A highly rated product by Petco users is Good Lovin Hackberry Log Smoked Turkey Tendon Dog Chews, which are about $10 for a 3-ounce package.

When purchasing tendon chews, consider your dog's size and the size of the tendon. Most products list whether they're intended for small, medium, large, or giant dogs. Follow these recommendations to reduce the risk of choking. Products that state they are "rawhide-free" are often safest because you know they do not contain rawhide.

Are Tendon Chews Safe for Dogs?

Tendon chews are generally safe for your dog to have, but it's always a good idea to discuss any changes or additions to your dog's diet with your veterinarian. That way you can be sure that tendons, or any other treats you want to try, are safe for your pet. It's important to consider the protein source (beef, turkey, venison, etc.) if your dog has food allergies, and never leave your dog unattended while chewing on a treat or toy. With the appropriate precautions, your dog can enjoy an occasional tendon chew while you rest easy knowing they're safe.

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Are Tendon Chews Safe for Dogs? Treat Options to Try