How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Dog


Written by: Jodie Lindop

Much like children, dogs have oral fascinations – everything goes in their mouth. This, combined with an ever growing, curious sense of smell are just a few of the ways dogs like to explore the world. However, your dog is not aware of the dangers that the daily objects they come into contact with may entail. Therefore, as your dog’s master, it is essential that you pick safe, appropriate dog toys for them to play with and to supervise their play.

What should I consider when choosing a dog toy?

– The size of your dog

It’s important to choose toys that are large enough to prevent them from coming into contact with the back of your dog’s mouth. This will reduce the likelihood of them choking.

– How active your dog is

Your dog’s play habits will change as they get older. A teething puppy has different needs from a full grown adult.

– How your dog likes to play

All dogs enjoy playing differently, whether they love a stimulating game of tug-of-war, or they’re quite happy playing alone, a dog’s toys should generally reflect their playing preferences.

Avoid too-small toys for large dogs with a strong predatory instinct. Dogs who are eager chewers will replicate what they would do with their prey, tearing it apart with their rear molars and potentially shredding the toy all the way to the bone. Therefore a toy that winds up is a choking hazard.

– Your dog’s environment

It is important to consider your dog’s surroundings when choosing a toy. Some dog toys may need to be played with outside and others may require more space than your home provides. The same goes for toys that make noise and if these particular toys are the right choice for your household’s lifestyle.

What are safe dog toys?

– Activity Toys

• Hard, chewy rubber dog toys
• Indestructible dog toys
• Rope toys with knotted ends. Although great toys, these should be highly supervised, the shards from this kind of toy can be ingested and cause intestinal blockage.

• Tennis balls (sized appropriately for your dog)
• Squeaky toys that encourage play

– Distraction Toys

Distraction toys keep your dog occupied for longer periods of time. They generally result in a reward, e.g. finding a hidden treat inside. These particular types of toys are great to relieve boredom.

• Rubber toys with hidden treats or peanut butter
• Antler or natural bone that is specially treated for a dog

– Comfort Toys

Comfort toys are soft dog toys that can satisfy a dog’s gentler “babying” instincts. For example:

• Soft, machine-washable, stuffed or unstuffed plush toys, appropriately sized for your dog.
• Your own recycled clothing (e.g., an old T-shirt) with your scent.

What are unsafe dog toys?

• Any toys that have decorative additions such as string, ribbon, feathers, rubber bands or small plastic eyes. Basically anything that your dog can pull off and chew or eat.
• Children’s toys
• Stuffing
• Socks/underwear
• Tennis balls/rubber balls that are too-small.

These are all choking hazards and can cause a serious or fatal intestinal obstruction.

• Poultry and rib bones – these tend to break and splinter. Rib bones and cow hooves can also fracture a dog’s tooth.
• Pig ears can cause intestinal distress because of the grease. Bone marrow is also not recommended.
• Balls with single air holes can create deadly suction
• Toys with sharp parts or corners, or that are made of soft plastics.
• Toys containing a multitude of toxins.

It is important to trust your instincts when choosing a toy. If a toy gives off a strong chemical odor, it should be avoided. Problems occur when dogs lick and chew toys and the toxins seep into their saliva.

Chemical agents may include:

• Dyes and preservatives
• Heavy metals (cadmium, lead, chromium)
• Cancer-causing agents
• Neurological poisons
• Some latex, which may contain phthalates and BPA
• Fire retardants; these likely contain formaldehyde and other chemicals
• Stain guard

Spending time choosing the right dog toy can benefit in training and help teach young dogs how to socialise, whilst at the same time enforcing what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour. However, even the best dog toy in the world can never replace the joy and excitement that comes from playtime with their beloved human and the bond that you share.

About Jodie: Jodie starting working for Orvis UK in August 2016. As Digital Marketing Executive, she has the opportunity to be involved with a wide range of opportunities in the business. Her main responsibilities include managing the Orvis UK social media channels and blog, as well as providing support to the wider Marketing team. She has previously worked in a number of creative roles and has enjoyed writing from a young age, so is a regular contributor to the Orvis UK blog.

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