Dogs and toys go together like peanut butter and jelly … fries and ketchup … peas and carrots … salt and pepper … milk and cookies. Okay, you get the point! Our canine kids love to chew, shake, fetch, and carry their toys. As you swing by your pet store or scour the internet looking for new playthings for your precious pup, here are some things to consider!
1. Size Matters
When picking out dog toys, always remember this: Any small object that Fido can fit inside his mouth is a potential choking hazard. So, avoid small toys that can completely fit into your pup’s mouth. On the flip side, you don’t want extremely oversized toys where your dog can’t comfortably pick them up and play. Basically, you’re after the baby bear of dog toys. Not too small, not too big. Something in the middle that’s just right!
2. Avoid Added Frills
Speaking of potential choking hazards, even if a toy is a great size for your fur kid, watch out for added strings, fringe, ribbons, plastic eyes, bells, etc. A lot of dogs love to chew and tug on these added frills, causing them to pop off. If your dog accidentally ingests any of these frills, he risks choking, intestinal blockages, and removal surgery.
You know your dog’s play and chew style the best. If your dog is a light player then certain frills may not be an issue for your dog. But, definitely keep this in mind when selecting the perfect toys for your fur baby.
3. Know Your Dog’s Play Style (For Safety & Interest)
When selecting new toys for your pooch, be mindful of their play style and what they can safely handle. My two small dogs are light chewers and practically everything is large compared to their little mouths, so I feel comfortable giving them a wide range of toys. However, my mom’s dog – while small – is an intense and destructive chewer. So, we have to be very careful with what we give her.
Here are some things to think about:
- Soft plush toys that have a squeaker inside are totally fine for gentle players. However, they may not be a great option for intense, destructive dogs whose main objective is to rip the toy apart and get to the squeaker.
- Very hard, 100% rubber toys are great for high-energy pets because they aren’t as easy to destroy. I love the KONG brand for this reason! With that said, it’s still important to supervise your pets when playing because no toy is completely indestructible.
- Rope toys are often recommended for teething puppies and intense chewers because they’re hard. However, I would only recommend them for newly teething pups, light chewers, and occasional players during supervised playtime. The rope is made of multiple strands of thin fabric all woven together. If your dog is an intense player and wears these strands down then Fido can ingest them, causing damage and/or blockages in the digestive tract and intestines.
- Tennis Balls – If your dog loves to play with tennis balls and almost always has one in his mouth then consider switching to a high-quality rubber ball. While tennis balls are fine for light/occasional players, powerful doggy jaws have been known to pop them. There are cases where pieces have lodged into a dog’s throat, leading to choking. Additionally, overtime, fuzz can come loose and become a choking hazard. Speaking of the fuzz, it can lead to another potential issue: The fuzz can act like sandpaper and gradually wear down your pup’s teeth. Light, everyday play likely won’t do much harm, but if you have an aggressive chewer on your hands then it could become an issue over time (it’s a process called blunting).
4. Know What Your Dog Toys Are Made Of
Various studies and tests have found toxins in certain dog toys. Here’s one example: Consumer Affairs tested pet toys that were made in China and purchased from Wal-Mart. The tests found lead, chromium, and cadmium inside the toys. In other instances, toys have been found to have phthalates (an additive that makes toys more flexible), BPA, and the list goes on.
When shopping for toys, look for:
- Made in the USA
- 100% Natural Rubber
- Organic Cotton
- Eco-Friendly Materials
5. Offer a Variety
If your pet seems bored with the same old toys, it’s probably because he is! Just like we like variety, it’s important to give our pup some playtime options too. There are a lot of different toy types on the market. Again, just keep their play-style in mind when shopping!
- Plush Toys with Squeakers Inside
- Plush Toys with Crinkle Paper Inside
- Rubber Toys
- Rope Toys
- Tug Toys
- Discs and Frisbees
- Food-Dispensing Toys
- Interactive Puzzles
6. Buy Toys Specifically Made For Dogs
So you walk into the store and see a cute baby or kid’s toy that isn’t necessarily made for dogs, but you know your canine cutie would adore. As tempting as it is to buy, it’s best to stick with toys designed for dogs. Human toys aren’t made to withstand all the chewing and pulling, making it easier for a dog to rip apart the seams and get to whatever is inside. Plus, kid’s toys may be stuffed with fillers that are dangerous to your dog, like beads, etc.
7. Fix or Toss Old Dog Toys & Replace With New Ones
Toys don’t always last forever, especially if you have a pretty intense chewer. If your pup’s toy is heavily chewed and/or ripped with the stuffing popping out and parts dangling off then it’s time to either fix it or toss it. If you’re tossing your dog’s favorite toy, replace it with something similar! They obviously loved it for a reason, and will really appreciate a new one!
Our Favorite Dog Toys
For a list of our favorite toys, check out our Amazon storefront! I have an entire section filled with toys.