Friday, 4 November 2016
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Dog Toy Safety Tips and Helpful Links

Dalmatian dogs ripping apart a stuffed toy.

I often ponder dog safety (my wild beasts are pretty hard on their toys!) and hear/see a lot of folks doing the same so thought that I would share a few links that I find helpful, as well as some of our own experiences - good and bad - for your entertainment.  Ultimately, you have to make the decision as to what you feel is suitable for you and your pets. The most important message that I feel I share is that any toy no matter what it's made of or where it's sourced from requires dog-by-dog consideration for suitability and supervision during play. I'm not an expert, just a dog-lover, so if you looking for dog safety guidance, the following links have some good tips and other useful information about dog toy safety and risks:

Safety first, furfriends! No matter what a toy is made of or how it's made, most (arguably all) pet toys are meant for supervised interactive play. Playtime is always safer (and more fun!) with you involved. 

In our personal experience...

Every dog is different. Our two dogs are both big boys of the same breed and similar temperament, but they have different behaviors and therefore risks when it comes to selecting toys and interactive play. Fortunately, neither is into non-food eating...but ripping is a totally different story.  In particular, there is never an unsupervised softie around here.  They LOVE them, especially if they squeak, but they kill them quickly.  I have a toy hospital where damaged dog toys go pending surgical repairs to extend their safe play life.  My tugs last much longer but are also for interactive fun, which allows me to re-tie loose/torn strips and to collect and rubbish any scrappy bits.  Both are very strong chewers, and some extremely tough (and expensive!) hard chew-style toys haven't lived up to our expectations while other have lasted beautifully. Supervision. I really can't say it enough.

All toys (bought or made) and toy materials seem to have pros and cons. You can find someone recommending for/against pretty much anything.  Ultimately, nothing is ever perfectly safe or healthy.  You need to decide what you are comfortable with personally.  As an example, I often craft with fleece - it's durable, colourfast, and doesn't shed threads like woven fabrics, but it is a synthetic material. Given it's current widespread usage, including many items for babies and children, there is a lot of information available on material safety if you're keen to Google. There are also some interesting articles on it's environmental pros and cons for those interested. You can, of course, adapt any doggy DIY (from here or anywhere) into another material that you feel comfortable with using and feel is appropriate for your pet.  On the flip side, just because something is natural doesn't mean it's safe either. I find that a lot of woven naturals are often horrible for nasty stringy bits and shedding threads per my (staged) snap below. And don't get me started on the myriad of pros/cons for chew toys... I loved the sniff test suggestion in the Safety Bee post shared above...good to know I'm not the only one sniffing through the toy aisle in the pet shop! Whatever you like to play with, keep your dog toys clean as well - it's healthier for your dogs and your family.

Shredded pieces of a destroyed rope and ball dog toy.

Don't forget, your dog will happily play, chew, and perhaps even swallow plenty of things that aren't dog toys!  Some of the worst stories from people I know involve stolen goods, including one poor pup who ate part of the bedding in her kennel, one who swallowed part of a phone charger, and another who swallowed part of a stick - all pulled through but needed serious medical care.  Around our place, we try to keep temping objects out of reach (not easy with big dogs) or stored away when not in use, such as our cat's toys.  We've been fortunate to date with our boys, but that's not to say we haven't had our moments, even being careful. More than a few socks have been stolen from the laundry as per the incriminating evidence below, which was somehow stolen from the top of the clothes drying rack! Some years ago,the discovery of a few scraps of wool jumper and no sign of the rest required a serious call to hubby to determine whether Oli had eaten the rest of my sweater (and needed rush emergency care) or if hubby had earlier found the ripped up jumper and hidden the evidence from me (and Oli would have company in the doghouse).  Fortunately for Oli, it was the latter! As a young puppy, Humphrey also stole a packet of prescription medication from high on the kitchen counter and required an emergency trip to the vet for induced vomiting.  More than a few cupcake/muffin/burger wrappers littered along the sidewalks by careless folks have been nabbed by the boys as well.  And, as the grand finale in our everyday object tales, nasty hairball-like clots of nibbled grass has been responsible for some of their worst vomits/poops. I think I'll leave you with that thought...

Dalmatian dog looking at ripped sock

What are your favourite toys and why?  Any tips to share with us and our readers for choosing toys or extending their safe play life? Interesting safety articles/links for us to read?  Please share with us in the comments below, and remember to always play safe, furfriends!


  1. Wow your article very informative. Thanks for sharing such a useful post.

  2. My golden retriever chews through toys like crazy! I'm eager to try some of your knotted rope toys and see what she thinks :) Love what I've seen of your site, so far!

    1. Thanks, Megan! :)

      For tough play with our big boys, thick heavyweight fleece and fat tugs (I like to use the heavyweight fleece in double strips for added heft) hold up better over time. I've experimented with heavy denim (dislike the fraying/threads) and other reclaimed materials (too flimsy, except t-shirt hems, which were pretty decent), but fleece is a favourite.

      Humphrey was much harder on his toys (bought or made) when he had sharp little puppy fangs and Oli was a younger more active playmate. Now his toys and tugs last much longer, even with our new play pal Cooper (the neighbours' new dog) turning up the tug-o-war wear and tear factor.


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