Toys are a vital part of dogs’ lives, so ensuring that you buy the best quality you can afford is important. It’s equally important to be strict about the types of dog toys that you purchase because the wrong toy for your pet’s size or breed can have dire consequences. In fact, some dangerous dog toys can be fatal.
There are few dogs who can withstand the attractive qualities of squeaky toys, but they are not without danger. For example, cheaper dog toys are easy to rip to pieces, and the stuffing and squeaker are easy to swallow. More expensive toy brands tend to last longer, depending on how determined your dog is, of course. However, pet parents should always take a cautionary approach to all dog toys. It’s very easy to overlook innocuous seeming factors, like a ribbon that can be chewed off and stick halfway down your pet’s throat.
Bear in mind that any toys with moving parts or assembled pieces are a potential safety hazard. That doesn’t mean you can’t let Fido or Snowball play with these toys, but it does mean you will always have to supervise play. You should also put away toys when playtime is over.
Accidents happen so quickly. A young dog or puppy will swallow a whole squeaker within seconds. And big dogs can swallow small toys for miniature breeds just as quickly.
Everything goes in the mouth
Dogs experience the world through their mouths. Young dogs and puppies are inquisitive enough to try and put everything they encounter in their mouths. Some older dogs know from experience what is good and what is not. However, you don’t need to rely on experience to teach your young dog not to taste a toad or eat the squeaky that’s just come out of the dissected toy.
You can teach your dog important concepts like ‘drop’ and ‘leave’. When you begin training, remember to always swop items with something of equal or higher value. So don’t try to teach them to leave the toad with a biscuit. You’ll have to use something like chicken or dried liver to really tempt your dog to leave. You can use swop, drop and leave for all sorts of items, from squeakers and your kids’ dinky cars to iPhones and Miu Miu shoes.
When buying toys for a puppy or adult dog you have to imagine all the possibilities that could lead to disaster. Consider factors that contribute to a dangerous dog toy, including durability, assembly, material, and size. Dog-specific durable toys that aren’t easily dismantled and don’t have bits that can easily be swallowed or cause choking are always a better buy for your dog.
Be prepared to break your dog’s heart by throwing out favorite worn and over-chewed toys. They may be one play away from coming apart and presenting a swallowing danger.
What if my dog swallows something she shouldn’t?
Dogs that inadvertently swallow dangerous parts experience a lot of discomfort and pain. It’s not easy to pass a squeaker through the digestive tract. It’s also possible that the object could form an obstruction. This increases the pain, and can perforate the bowel or intestine and cause an assortment of other problems. Dogs often need surgery to remove the object. You need to act quickly; otherwise your dog could die.
Dangerous dog toys and safe alternatives
We’ve already looked at some of the dangers of squeaky toys. Now let’s look at some other favorite toys and chews that are dangerous.
Topping the list is an item that is a firm favorite with dogs and their parents. Rawhide is one of the most dangerous substances for dogs. It causes a significant number of obstructions treated by vets. There are some high quality rawhide products that are less dangerous than others, but it’s probably better to replace all rawhide with other chews, like bully sticks, puzzles, ostrich knuckles, and antlers (although these should also be used with caution).
(As an aside: many rawhide chews are by-products of the fur trade.)
If you’re looking for a permanent alternative, some manufacturers have rubber chews in the shape of sticks and bones that are safe and fun. Rope and woven toys keep dogs safely entertained.
Dogs love to fetch and chew tennis balls. The fetching part is fine, but the chewing part is problematic. The fuzzy material is fun to pick at and chew, but it can damage teeth and is toxic if swallowed. The rubber is also dangerous if it starts to break off in small and not so small bit.
Puzzle toys and interactive feeders are fun alternatives as dogs can chew them happily and toss, kick, nose, and drop them to get treats or food out. They provide excellent mental stimulation, and keep your dog entertained and prevent boredom.
Ensure that any soft stuffed (plush) toy you buy your dog is pet-safe. The filling of most plush toys for people is toxic for dogs if swallowed. Pet-safe plush toys use non-toxic material that won’t cause obstructions. Plush toys for people also tend to have hard plastic eyes and noses or quirky glasses that are fun to chew off and easy to swallow. Pet-safe plush toys don’t have these dangers.
You can make your dog’s toys last by rotating them and putting them away when games are over. This also protects them from the elements. Dogs then always enjoy some novelty value, and they don’t get bored. And you save money because you don’t have to replace toys every month.