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Himalayan chews are hard cheese chews that are often referred to as safe rawhide alternatives for dogs, but how safe are they really?
That’s what I’m here to talk to you about today.
Because although these chews can pose a health risk, I’ve been feeding them to my pup for 3+ years, yet I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Wally with a Himalayan chew
No, that doesn’t make me a bad dog mom, it just means I know a thing or two you may want to be aware of as well.
That includes the ingredients this dog chew is made with, two particular safety precautions as well as what storing the chews in extreme temperatures does to them.
Now without further ado, here’s the scoop on Himalayan chews for dogs!
What Is The Origin Of Himalayan Dog Chews?
It all starts with the milk from pastured yaks and cows from the majestic Himalayas in Nepal.
That’s why Himalayan chews are also known as Yak chews or Yak cheese chews.
To make the chews, the milk is first heated to a high temperature. This helps to separate the fat and the whey, leaving behind a thick and sticky substance called curd.
Note: That’s where the traditional Himalayan chew recipe ends, but some manufacturers also add a little lime juice and salt for natural preservation purposes.
Both are always listed last on the ingredient label, which means there’s only very little of these in Himalayan chews, typically less than 1%.
Good to know: Ingredients on dog food and dog chew labels are always listed in descending order. They start with the ingredient that has the highest quantity and end with the ingredient with the smallest amount.
But either way, the curd is then pressed to remove any excess moisture, and the resulting solid is shaped into differently sized blocks or bars.
After that, the blocks are left to dry naturally for several months.
During this time, the chews become hard and dense.
The final result is a Himalayan dog chew that is completely natural and free from any artificial additives or synthetic preservatives, regardless of the recipe.
Shopping for Himalayan chews
What Are The Benefits of Himalayan Chews?
Himalayan chews offer a range of benefits that go beyond just being a tasty treat from abroad.
Listed below you’ll find the 6 major ones:
- Dental Health: As dogs chew on these, the natural hardness and texture helps scrape away plaque and tartar buildup from their teeth. This action promotes good oral hygiene, reduces the risk of gum disease, and keeps their pearly whites in better shape.
- Long-Lasting: Himalayan chews are known for their durability, which is ideal for dogs that tend to get bored easily or have excessive chewing habits.
- Rich In Protein & Calcium: Himalayan chews are made primarily from yak and cow milk, which means they’re naturally rich in protein and calcium, benefiting their bones, teeth and muscles.
- Fully Digestible: Despite their hardness, Himalayan chews are fully digestible and soften when they’re exposed to the dog’s saliva.
- Allergy-Friendly: Himalayan chews are great for dogs with sensitivities to grains, gluten and artificial ingredients in general.
- Lactose-Free: During the production of Himalayan chews, the milk is heated to a high temperature, causing the lactose to break down and become more easily digestible. Additionally, as the chews are dried over an extended period, any remaining lactose content is further reduced.
How Long Do Himalayan Dog Chews Last?
As far as their general shelf life is concerned, Himalayan chews last around 5 years.
That’s as long as they stay in the sealed bag they come in and are stored in a temperature-controlled environment.
- Your dog’s size
- Their chewing habits
- The size of the chew
That said, Himalayan chews come in a variety of sizes. When you order you chews there are options for different size chews:
Small, Medium, Large, and Monster. You can see the options directly under the price on Amazon. Also, there are different quantities available from a 1 pack all the way to a 12 pack.
Wally’s large Yak chew weighs 4 oz
If they only chew for 10-15 minutes at a time a couple times per day, one large sized Himalayan chew will last your pup 2-3 weeks.
That’s the case with my pup Wally. He’s a Feist mix and weighs just shy of 40 lbs.
If they’re a power chewer, they can finish a large sized Yak chew in 45-60 minutes, just like a bully stick. That’s the case with a friend’s Golden Retriever.
So power chewers are better off with a Monster Himalayan chew.
How Do You Store Half Eaten Yak Chews?
In between chewing sessions, it’s best if you don’t leave Himalayan chews out in a humid environment but store them in a dry area instead.
That’s because humidity promotes the growth of mold on Yak chews.
So rather than leaving them out in the yard on a hot summer’s day, opt for your pantry, kitchen cabinet or the kitchen counter – but obviously out of reach of your pup!
I don’t recommend storing them in the fridge because that makes them brittle to the point where they break.
Been there, done that, and I ended up with a few smaller pieces of Yak chews real quick.
Back then, I tossed them into the trash because I wanted to be safe and avoid any potential choking.
But since then, I’ve learned about a nifty way of repurposing those smaller pieces, and I’ll share that with you next!
How To Puff Himalayan Dog Chew
Yes, you read that correctly, there’s a way of puffing up a Yak chew!
The way it’s done is with your microwave.
This process turns the smaller piece into a big yummy, crunchy cheese puff that’s easy to eat for your pup.
Wally loves his puffed up cheese! The only downside to this is that there will be crumbs.
Before you microwave any smaller Yak chew pieces, soak them in a bowl with water for about 5 minutes.
Next, put them onto a microwavable plate and watch the transformation – it’s pretty impressive!
Of course you can also puff up an entire Yak chew, not just the end piece.
I’ve done that before too just to experiment.
But obviously, that reduces the time the chew will last your pup, so I wouldn’t do that on a regular basis.
Wally with a fully puffed up Himalayan chew
Potential Risks Of Himalayan Chews
Since the end piece can be a choking hazard, you’ll have to monitor your pup during chewing sessions so you can take it away to puff it up before they gulp it down.
Since Himalayan chews come in different lengths and thicknesses, it’s also important to choose the right size Himalayan chew for your dog to prevent choking.
As a general rule of thumb, dog chews should always be slightly larger than your dog’s mouth so they’re not tempted to gulp the entire chew down.
While Himalayan chews are limited-ingredient, they’re not single ingredient chews. So for dogs with lots of food sensitivities, it may not be the right snack.
Also, some batches are exposed to moisture and humidity while being shipped which can cause mold.
That’s the downside of a fully natural dog chew, so always make sure to properly inspect the Himalayan chew before you offer it to your pup.
If you find mold, take a picture before tossing it into the trash and share it with the brand you bought it from to get your money back.
How Do You Introduce Yak Chews To Your Dog?
Whenever you offer your dog a new chew, do it slowly and gradually over the course of 7-10 days, just like you would with new dog food.
So if your pup has never had a Himalayan chew before, I recommend you use this approach to help your pup get used to it and avoid digestive upset.
Especially in dogs with sensitive stomachs!
What you can do is hold the Himalayan chew on one end and let your pup chew on the other end for a few minutes.
Holding one end of Wally’s Himalayan chew while he chews on the other end
That way, you can easily end the chewing session after a short amount of time.
It’s also a good exercise in polite behavior around high value food items!
Once your pup has graduated to chewing on the Yak chew without you holding it, I’d still keep an eye on them during their initial chewing sessions.
As far as eventually leaving them alone with it, you’ll have to know your dog and their chewing habits to gauge how safe it is.
If your pup is like my Wally and only interested in chewing on it a couple times per day, it’s probably fine to leave them alone with it, at least while the stick is new and still long.
However, if you know that your pup’s a power chewer and likely to finish eating it within an hour, you should supervise their chewing session.
Either way, there’s always a small chance of choking with any chew your pup consumes, so that’s just something to be aware of – just like you may choke on something you eat.
Himalayan Chew FAQs
Below, you’ll find my answer to some frequently asked questions about Yak Chews.
If you have a different question that wasn’t answered, feel free to ask it in the comment section below this blog post and we’ll get to it there!
How Often Can My Dog Have Yak Chews?
If your dog is at their target body weight and exercises regularly, they can have a couple Yak chews per week.
However, if they’re overweight and on a diet, they shouldn’t get them as frequently. Once a month will be plenty.
How Long Should I Let My Dog Chew On A Yak?
If your dog is only just being introduced to Yak chews, a few minutes at a time is enough.
Once they’ve been introduced to the cheese chews and don’t experience any digestive upset, you can let them chew on them anywhere from 30-60 minutes at a time.
Do Himalayan Dog Chews Really Clean Teeth?
Himalayan chews definitely help keep your pup’s teeth clean.
How clean exactly also depends on the regular food they eat and whether or not you brush their teeth.
Kibble and wet dog food are known to leave more of a residue on dog teeth than a fresh raw dog food diet.
Wally eats raw dog food and between that and his dog chews – Himalayan and others – I don’t have to brush his teeth to keep them clean.
Are Himalayan Dog Chews Easy To Digest?
That they are!
Since they’re only made with natural ingredients, they’re a lot easier to digest than dog chews made with artificial ingredients.
Should I Soak Yak Chews In Water?
You should only soak Yak chews before putting them into the microwave to puff them up.
You can also soak them in bone broth if you’re looking for an extra boost of nutrition!
When you offer your pup the regular Yak chew, there’s no need to soak it.
What To Do With The End Of A Himalayan Dog Chew?
Soak it for 5 minutes, then microwave it for 45-60 seconds to turn it into a crunchy cheese puff that’s easy to eat.
That’s a safe way to ensure your pup won’t choke on the small end piece.
Why Are Yak Chews So Expensive?
The main downside of Yak chews is their price, and it’s due to the fact that they’re (mostly) made overseas and have to be shipped to the US.
Generally speaking, dog chews that are made with natural ingredients like Himalayan chews are always more expensive than those with cheap synthetic ingredients.
Himalayan chews are not only a yummy and healthy snack for your dog, they’re also a safe dog chew as long as you remember a few safety precautions:
- Introduce the chew slowly to avoid digestive upset
- Hold one end in the beginning to keep chewing sessions short
- Puff up smaller pieces to turn them into a safe, crunchy cheese treat
Additionally, Himalayan chews also provide dental health benefits as well as long-lasting entertainment for bored and anxious dogs.
Since Himalayan chews don’t have any artificial additives, synthetic preservatives, and chemicals, they’re a healthy alternative to bleached rawhide and similar chews with long ingredient lists.
Has your pup tried Himalayan chews? Let us know in the comment section below!
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