DIY Dog Toy Hospital Repairs and Recycling Tips

Dalmatian dog in a doctor's costume

DIY dog toy hospital ideas for longer lasting fun!  It’s no secret that we love to spoil our dogs, but we’re also conscious of our environmental pawprints. In honour of Earth Day this Saturday, we’re sharing some of our own methods for maintaining and repairing dog toys, repurposing parts, and reusing salvaged materials.

Preventative Medicine

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Selecting suitable toys for your dog with consideration of size, durability and style of play is the starting point. Once you have toys in play, keeping the dog toys clean and checking for safety on a regular basis can help to extend the useful play life and keep your pet safer. Where needed, quick repairs are much easier than major surgery. And removing a potential toy hazard is much better than a trip to the vet!

🚨 Safety first, furfriends! Remember, no matter what a toy is made of or how it’s made, toys are meant for supervised interactive play. Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy. Some dogs try to eat toys or parts (whether bought or handmade) and that’s dangerous. Toys are for playing, and playtime is always safer (and more fun!) with you involved. You can read more in our dog toy safety post, including tips and helpful links for safer playtime. Have fun and play safe!

Dog Toy Triage

When a toy is compromised (bought or homemade), it goes into our hospital basket. Nothing fancy. Just a storage basket in the linen closet that everyone in the family knows to use. It’s a simple storage place for damaged items to keep them away from the pets until I have time to look at them for repair or scrap. Having a designated storage spot makes it easier to consistently quarantine toys for triage instead of leaving them in potentially unsafe play or going straight to the bin.

DIY Dog Toy Repairs - Stitches, Grafts, and Amputations

Dog Toy Repair Supplies and Materials

Handy items for your dog toy first aid kit include scissors, replacement squeakers, and basic sewing supplies. Depending on the toy and type of damage, repairs may be hand sewn or machine sewn.  See the material salvage tips below for ideas on salvaging and reusing materials for future toy making or toy repairs.

Quick Stitches and Toy Patches

A quick stitch on a small hole or failing seam are the simplest treatments. For rips and tears, sewing the tear closed may be viable depending on location and material. Patching might be more viable in other cases. Fleece is a handy patching material since the edges don’t fray, and I always have lots of off cuts available in my crafty scrap stash. Whether hand or machine sewn, make sure any patches are securely attached, just like any element of a toy for safety.

Repairing damaged dog toys and replacing squeakers

Larger Repairs and Difficult Positions

For edges and ends, patches may be viable or amputations might be an easier or safer option. It’s all case-by-case in our toy hospital. Things can get a bit Frankenstein looking, but dogs don’t care! 

Few of our bought stuffed toys have been durable enough to repair after being ripped open, but some over the years subjected to similar repairs to the example toy repairs pictured here.   Bunny (seen above) had a tailectomy at one point, but the mouth was a later patch job. Our squeaky snake was incredibly tough and lasted for ages. The tail was eventually torn, but it was back into play after a quick tailectomy for a long second life. The cacti toys were both sewn and amputated at different locations over time. Love bone, which Humphrey wanted to play with constantly, was patched in several places over its life and was actually all the cuter for it! 

For tug toys, knot repairs or trimming loose or torn bits are quick and easy life-extenders.

Repairing damaged dog toys

Squeaker Replacement

Surgery is a good opportunity to remove and replace damaged squeakers, if you’d like. Depending on the materials, you can also bag a damaged toy in mesh laundry bag and give it a thorough cleaning before replacing the squeakers and repairing the toy.

If you have any doubts about the integrity or safety of your toy, err on the side of safety. If safe repairs aren’t viable, salvage the materials or relegate it to the bin. No toy is worth risking your pet. 

Organ Donation

Salvaging Materials from Damaged or Worn Out Dog Toys

Organ donation in the form of material salvage is one of the easiest ways to extend the useful life of your dog toy materials. When a toy is too damaged to be worth the effort or too far gone to safely repair, I take it apart for scrap or disposal. The scrap materials can be used for future toy repairs, making new toys, or other craft projects.

Saving the Stuffing

For stuffed, the easiest reuse is the usually stuffing. I’m able to reuse almost all of the stuffing from bought and made toys, which means more fun without the expense or waste of buying stuffing. I have a few simple mesh laundry bags that I use when picking up the mess after a toy explosion or when pulling apart a toy for salvage. Not only is the mesh bag a handy way to collect and store the stuffing, I can machine wash and air dry the used stuffing in the bag (just like a pillow) and return it clean to my supply stash for future toys and crafts.

Salvaging Functional Squeakers

If squeakers are still functional, they can also be reused. This is hit and miss in our salvage, as sometimes the squeakers have been damaged and no longer squeak. However, we’re able to save quite a lot of functional squeakers for repairs and toy making. 

Other Materials

Usually the exterior materials aren’t salvaged; however, if there are large usable pieces, they can be washed and salvaged just like the stuffing. For other toys, salvage is case by case. See the Earth Day DIY dog tug toy below for an example of a special case salvage. 

DIY Woven Fleece Dog Toy with Salvaged Ball

Here’s a special Earth Day tug toy example of repurposing a special case salvage from a damaged dog toy into a new toy. The ball from a Beco ball and rope toy was reused after the rope was no longer viable. The ball was delightfully durable and I didn’t want it to go to waste. The hole in the centre was perfect for weaving into a new toy. I’m always nervous when I see toys with a cut-through tennis ball or similar. Tennis balls can be hazardous enough without cutting deteriorating their structural integrity.  My boys like ball fetch, but as soon as there’s damage, they’re taken away.

DIY fleece tug toy with durable salvaged ball

The tug toy with ball above was made by weaving the salvaged Beco ball into the centre of a simple spiral DIY fleece dog tug toy. You can see the process in the step-by-step photos below:

Making a DIY dog tug toy with a ball

Pawprints and Toy Life

What are your favourite tips for longer lasting play? Extending toy life? Do you have a favorite toy that last and lasts? Let us know – we’d love to hear about it! Have a pawesome weekend, furfriends, and we hope that you all enjoy some outdoor fun together for Earth Day!

DIY dog toy hospital and toy repairs

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