Playtime is an important way for dogs to burn off energy and bond with people, but choosing the wrong toys can result in serious injuries, illness or even death. Keep your puppy’s playtime fun and safe by following these guidelines for toy selection.
The problems with a too-large toy that your dog can’t comfortably carry around are obvious, but too-small toys can present a choking hazard. Tennis balls and small fetch balls can lodge in your dog’s throat. Choose a toy that is tailored to your dog’s size.
Avoid Sticks and Rocks
Sticks can be acceptable as fetch toys, but avoid overly large or heavy ones because they can cause neck injuries. Sharp sticks can also injure the dog’s mouth. Take the stick away if the dog begins to chew because they can splinter. Rocks can damage teeth and may cause intestinal blockages if your dog swallows them.
Pay Special Attention to Fetch Toys
Don’t use extremely hard or very heavy toys for fetch games. Hard toys can break teeth as your dog attempts to catch them, and heavy toys can injure your dog’s head or neck.
Stuffing Can Be Dangerous
Many dogs thoroughly enjoy ripping stuffing out of a toy, which can be fun and safe as long as you are sure your dog is not eating it. They can be sneaky about this, so watch closely. Consider stuffing-free toys as a safer alternative.
Beware of Batteries
Avoid battery-operated toys, particularly for dogs that are tough on toys. They can puncture the batteries or eat them. Never let any dog play with a battery-operated toy unsupervised.
Look For Non-Toxic Ingredients and Materials
Bones and chews are a great way to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and provide an outlet for his natural instinct to chew, but not all ingredients are created equally. Read the ingredients list carefully and only select non-toxic ingredients. Make sure rubber and plastic toys don’t contain dangerous chemicals, such as phthalates or BPA.
Be Careful With Tug Toys
Tug can be a very fun game, but it isn’t suitable for all dogs. If your dog has neck or back issues, check with your vet before using tug toys. Only leave tug toys out when you’re around to supervise, as longer toys can wrap around your dog’s limbs or neck.
Stay Away From String
Never let your dog play with string, rubber bands, panty hose or other long, thin items. If your dog swallows them, these items can cause serious intestinal problems.
Rawhide is a traditional chew material, but it can pose a choking hazard and may lead to intestinal blockages, particularly if your dog is a strong chewer and eats it quickly. Many rawhide treats are also poorly made, which can lead to contamination and food-borne illnesses.
Research the Manufacturer
Pet toys aren’t always held to stringent labeling standards, so buying from manufacturers known for quality is a good safeguard. Make sure the company actually makes their toys where they say they do and hasn’t had any major safety recalls.
Now Get Out There and Play
It may take some time to select the right toy, but you’ll be rewarded with hours of fun playtime with your pup. Start your search with this tennis ball and rope toy.