Everything dog owners need to know about dog toys
How to choose the best dog toys and the hidden dangers of broken toys
In the colder months, your dog will love spending more time inside with you, keeping warm, sleeping and playing with their toys.
Whether you’re home or not, you may be inclined to keep your dog inside, especially on super cold, rainy days where you don’t want your beloved pooch freezing outside in their kennel. And with your dog being inside, you’ll want to give them toys or treats to keep them amused.
This is a great time to check out the toys they have. Are they still intact, or has your dog loved them to death?
If you find your dog’s toy is broken (you may even have several broken toys lying around the
backyard!), you must throw it out and replace it. When your dog digests broken pieces of rubber or flexible plastic of dog toys, it can lead to serious blockages or choking, which may cause death.
The top 5 hidden dangers of broken dog toys
Dog toys, broken or otherwise, have the potential to cause injury to your beloved pooch. Don’t get me wrong, toys are vital for your dog’s well-being (especially if they’re alone), but like all things, supervision (or regular checks) are required.
Here are some dangers of dog toys to be aware of:
A choking hazard – if the toy is too small for your dog, or they break a piece off their toy from constant chewing, the object may become stuck in their throat. This injury is often caused by cheap plastic toys or knots on rope toys.
Blockages in their gut – if your dog managed to get the broken piece of toy past their windpipe, it may get stuck in their intestines as dog toy material is not easily digestible. Getting your dog to the vet is vital if you suspect they’ve swallowed a part of their toy.
Mouth or tooth issues – when a toy breaks, it may leave sharp edges that can cut your dog’s mouth, leading to nasty injuries. When toys are too hard, they may also crack your dog’s teeth, leading to an expensive vet visit.
Bacteria breeding ground – dog toys are constantly chewed and slobbered on, and broken toys, in particular, will hold puddles of drool, making them the perfect bacteria breeding ground. It’s vital to regularly clean dog toys and throw out broken ones.
Possible toxic material – not all dog toys are created equal. If you’re not purchasing your dog toy from a reputable supplier (e.g. a vet, a major pet supply chain etc.), you may accidentally be giving your dog a toy made from toxic materials (bad plastic, lead-based paints and so on).
How to choose the best dog toys for your pooch
As people do for children, you want to give your dog a range of the best dog toys you can find. Not only do you want them to be made from high-quality material, but you want them to be safe for your dog.
To start, make sure they’re the right size for your dog. Small toys can be easily swallowed, leading to choking or intestinal blockages. As your puppy grows, you must update their toys to suit.
Your collection of the best dog toys should include:
Active toys: Tennis balls are fantastic for fetch but can wear out quickly and get destroyed (be prepared to replace them often). Hard rubber balls are a great alternative but make sure they are big enough for your dog. Ropes or woven dog toys are brilliant for tug-of-war games and chewing on (great for teething pups!).
Distraction toys: When you’re away during the day, toys like Kongs that can be filled with treats will keep your fur baby entertained for hours. Again, make sure it’s the right size for your dog. They may get their tongue stuck in the hole if it's too small!
Comfort toys: Some dogs love having a stuffed toy as a companion to carry around during the day, shake up and play with, or cuddle up with in their bed. Make sure the toy is big enough (if being carried around), strong enough (if your dog is a destroyer!), and not broken (especially if there’s a squeaker inside that can be swallowed).
The top 3 reasons your dog may destroy their dog toy
Is your dog a destroyer? If so, don’t give up on their need for toys just yet – they may be destroying their toys for one of these reasons
1. They’re bored and need a different toy
Boredom is the #1 reason your dog may destroy their toy as their pent-up energy needs to
be released on something (and it should be a toy than your shoes or furniture!). If they’re
constantly destroying their toys (e.g. stuffed animals get ripped apart), you may need to
switch to a distraction toy like a Kong.
2. They see the toy as prey
Dogs have wild ancestors, so you may notice your dog’s natural instincts kick in, and they see their toy as prey. This is particularly true for squeaky toys, where your dog’s instinct will be to rip apart the toy until they’ve ‘killed’ the squeak.
3. They learnt bad behaviours as a puppy
It’s easy to let cute little puppies get away with things and even think it’s cute as they rip up
a teddy. But encouraging this behaviour may turn them into destroyers as adult dogs. When
your pup starts to destroy a toy, it’s time to take it off them for ‘time-out’ by teaching them
Need a hand to help bust your dog’s boredom beyond toys?
Dog toys aren’t a luxury for your dog; they are necessary! However, they shouldn’t act as a pure replacement for spending quality time with your dog and going for walks.
If you’re finding you’re super busy and don’t have the same time you used to for your dog, my house visiting and dog walking services may be handy. Here’s a reminder of my services.
And finally, if you’ve got any stories, tips or hints about dog toys (or a favourite to share with us), please pop them in the comments below.
Until next time, pat your fur babies for me.