So, you want to spoil your pet rotten? And have been told to avoid various kinds of toys for various reasons? What is a safe toy for your dog?
As vets, we see toys causing two main types of problems:
a) The toy is too easy to break, and ends up wedged in your dogs mouth, oesophagus, stomach, intestines, or creates other problems coming out the other end.
b) The toy is too hard (or thrown too fast) and can damage your dog’s teeth.
So how do you know if a toy is safe?
The answer to that is actually surprisingly difficult. Every pet is unique, and a toy that works really well in one dog may be too easy for another dog to tear apart and swallow. The best way to be certain is to monitor your pet while they play with any new toy. There are however some definite rules about what not to use as a toy:
a) Avoid anything made of long string or rope. Long fibres, including toys attached to elastic (especially cat toys) are the absolute worst thing to allow your dog to eat. They can cause a linear foreign body which means it causes not just one point of blockage in your pets intestines, but multiple points of injury. Additionally, many rope toys are designed for tug-a-war, and most people find this possessive type of behaviour something worth discouraging.
b) Hard projectiles have the potential to damage your dogs mouth. Most frisbees and balls have some flex and give to them. Be wary of any ‘toy’ that does not have any give in it. That includes sticks and stones. It sounds silly, but these are not toys, despite the fact that some dogs like chasing them. Stones can crack a dog’s teeth, and fractured teeth are both painful and expensive. Sticks can lodge in your dog’s mouth, splintering off and causing pain, discomfort and bad breath until they are finally located.
c) Anything your dog can tear into small pieces. Teddy bears, hollow rubber balls and a variety of other toys that your dog can dismantle can be swallowed and risk causing a blockage.