It might seem odd that a toy could possibly cause your dog any harm. However, toys are responsible for a large number of emergency visits for dogs every year. Dog toys come in many different forms. From simple balls to extravagant play systems with all the bells and whistles. Dogs use toys to fight boredom, and with other therapies,  to keep their nerves at bay. So it is important to know how to choose safe dog toys. 


How to Choose Safe Dog Toys


When It Comes to Dog Toys, Size Matters 

While watching a 5-pound chihuahua drag an 8-pound toy across the room might be entertaining for a moment. It becomes less so when you look at its implications. Toys that are too big for your pet’s mouth can cause jaw dislocation, or even become stuck in their mouth. Requiring the intervention of a vet. Your pet would need to be put under anesthesia, and there would be a hefty emergency bill. 

On the opposite end, small toys given to large dogs can also cause problems. Toys that are too small for your pet might be swallowed. This can cause an intestinal blockage and require surgery. This is why it is important to know the size range for your dog.

The sizes of dogs are most commonly toy, small, medium, large and extra large. However, one company may call your 60 lb pit mix a medium, and your Great Dane a large, excluding the extra-large category. That is why it is important to know the average weight of your pooch. As often a toy company will mark the weight as part of their sizing. 

Go with your gut, if you think your dog might swallow that super cute toy, leave it on the shelf. 


Expert Chewers Need Stronger Toys

There are two types of chewers, ones who merely enjoy chewing and those that go at it like it’s their job. Understanding the type of chewer you have can help you determine the types of toys to buy. 

Recreational chewers might keep the same toy for a long time. They do not rip open toys to take out the insides as many hard chewers do. These traits open them up to countless toys and many different brands.

If you find yourself with an intense chewer, it is important to take a closer look at the materials that the toys are made with. Intense chewers will go through toys quickly, and often will find other things to chew that may not be safe for them (like shoes, baseboards, and even carpets). 


Which Types of Dog Toys Are Safe?

Exploring the different toys that the internet has to offer can be exhausting. Until you know what interests your pooch, shopping at a pet store will give you the ability to feel the different toys and gauge their sizes. If it is a pet-friendly store, you can even let your pup pick out a toy on their own! 

With all types of toys, their use should be monitored until you know what your dog will do with the toy. And even then supervision is recommended. Anything that is damaged or ripped apart should be taken away for their safety.

Unlike cats, it is not recommended to use a laser pointer to play with your dog. Often they become obsessed and it can lead to an unhealthy obsession with lights and shadows. 

Below is a list of the different types of toys you may encounter. 

  • Bones and Rawhide – While rawhide is generally considered safer for dogs than bones, it can pose risks for intense chewers. They will often break off bits that can be swallowed and cause impactions. Cooked bones should never be fed to your dog, as they can splinter. 
  • Chews – Often these toys are made of thick silicone, and have spaces for treats to be added. If your pooch is an intense chewer, look for brands that are made for them. Or made with stronger materials that they will be less likely to tear apart.
  • Soft Toys – Soft or stuffed toys are only recommended for dogs that will not tear them apart as the stuffing, threads, and body of the stuffies can create impactions that are hard to pick up on an x-ray. Often leading to the need for exploratory surgery.
  • Puzzle Toys – These are toys that often have pockets for treats hidden behind doors or slides. Start with an easy puzzle and work your dog up to the harder ones, they are a great way to feed a dog that might otherwise gulp their kibble
  • Balls and frisbees – Playing fetch with your dogs is a wonderful way to exercise them. Just be sure that your ball or frisbee is the right size for your dog. 


Fun, Helpful Vet Care in the Gilbert Area

Playing with your pet is a wonderful way to keep them active, exercise their minds, and keep them healthy. Now that you have picked out the best toys for them, pick out the best vet care to help keep them around for a long time. At East Valley Animal Hospital we care about your pet as much as you do and will provide you with the best care plans possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and discuss vet-approved dog toys.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (9/30/22). Photo by marieke koenders on Unsplash.