Just like human children, dogs love to have toys to play with.  Dog toys prevent boredom and problem behaviors later on in life, however some toys are not so safe for your pet.  Please read through this list for tips on choosing safe toys for your dog or puppy.

  • Choose a toy appropriate for the size of your dog.  Large dogs should not have toys made for small dogs.  These can cause choking hazards if the dog accidentally swallows the toy.
  • Avoid toys with embellishments such as ribbons, bells or plastic pieces.  Often cute plush toys have plastic pieces for eyes, noses and other decorations.  These items are usually the first thing your dog will try to remove from the toy and if ingested could cause choking or digestive hazards.
  • Be careful when allowing your dog to play with rope toys.  It is suggested that rope toys only be used during tug-of-war games with a watchful human and then put away after playtime is done.  Rope toys are easily ripped up and dogs or puppies may ingest the strings of rope, causing digestive and gastro-intestinal problems.
  • Stuffed toys are cute, but if your dog has destructive tendencies they will need to be supervised when playing with these.  Many dogs attempt to “de-stuff” plush toys and may ingest the stuffing inside the toy.  This is also true of toys with squeakers in them.  Once the toy has been ripped open with stuffing exposed the toy should be thrown away.
  • Tennis balls and racquet balls are common toys for dogs.  Racquet balls are too small for large dogs and easily swallowed or lodged in the throat.  They should be avoided.  Tennis balls also have issues with shedding fuzz and can easily be chewed into small, indigestible pieces.  Larger, rubber balls are best for dogs to chase after and catch.
  • Some veterinarians recommend against giving your dog or puppy rawhide treats.  These are known for getting lodged in the dogs throat, causing choking hazards.  Most vets recommend only giving your dog raw hide treats if they are under close supervision.
  • Hard, rubber toys are often best, particularly for dogs that are destructive or like to chew.  Kong products are fun for chewing and fetching and are durable.  Some are even made as distraction toys by allowing treats or peanut butter to be placed inside the toy.  As with any dog toy, these should be examined on a regular basis to ensure it is not being broken down and ingested.
  • Dog frisbees are a great way to get your dog out for some exercise and most are quite durable.
  • Check your dog toy labels for child safety.  Often times, toys labeled as safe for children under three years of age do not contain dangerous fillings.  Though even safe filling is not digestible.

The most important thing to remember is to monitor your pet and examine all toys on a regular basis to check for defects.  Once a toy begins to break down it is time to toss it in the trash.  Following these dog toy safety tips will help keep your pet happy, healthy and safe.