Safety, especially dog toy safety, is something I often ponder. My wild beasts are pretty hard on their toys! I hear and see a lot of folks doing the same, so I wanted to share a few dog toy safety links, as well as some of our own experiences – good and bad – for your entertainment.
Dog Toy Safety Links and Resources
As much as we all want to keep our pets safe, happy, and healthy, life is filled with potential risks. 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 that I can 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 fellow dog lover and pet parent. If you’re looking for dog safety guidance, the following links have some good tips and other useful information about dog toy safety, risks, and play. We’ll try to check back periodically to make sure these are still active and update, if needed.
- Humane Society – Dog Toys: How to Pick the Best and Safest
- SPCA – Choosing the Right Dog Toys (PDF, linked from Dogs Behaviour and Training Tips resource library)
- The Wildest (Formerly The Bark) – Choosing Safe Dog Toys
- VetStreet – Toy Safety for Adult Dogs
- Zoetis – Types of Toys for Different Dogs
- Wag (Formerly Vetary) – The Proper Way To Play With Your Dog
Safety first! 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 much more fun) with you involved. Play safe and stay save, furfriends! Woofs!
Our Personal Experiences with Dog Toys, Safety, and More
Every Dog is Different
Our two dogs are both big boys of the same breed and similar temperament, but they have different behaviours and therefore risks when it comes to selecting toys and interactive play. Fortunately, neither is into non-food eating. Ripping, however, is a totally different story. They LOVE stuffed toys, especially if they squeak, but toys sometimes don’t last very well under all that love and attention.
We’re interactive play all the way, no matter what the toy. Anything that looks damaged or raises other concerns can be taken out of play. I have a dog toy hospital where damaged dog toys go pending surgical repairs to extend their safe play life or for rubbish/recycling. Tug toys tend to last much longer, but are also for interactive fun so I can re-tie loosened weaves or rubbish any torn scrappy bits. They’re not really into chew toys, fortunately. Or eating things – whew! Just playing and squeaking. Still, both boys are strong lads, and some extremely rugged (and expensive) dog toys haven’t lived up to our expectations while others have lasted beautifully. Supervision. I really can’t say it enough.
Style of Play and Behaviours Can Change Over Time
As our dogs have grown up and aged, their behaviours and play styles have evolved. This has been a good thing for the longevity and relative safety of many toys. It’s also been a consideration in the types of toys we buy, the types of toys we make, and different types of toy materials. As the boys continue to change over time, so do the choices we make and the ways we play. It’s really back the need to know the dogs, and give consideration for suitability and supervision during play.
The Pros and Cons of Different Dog Toys and Materials
All toys (bought or made) and toy materials seem to have pros and cons. You can find someone recommending for and 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 sometimes craft with fleece. It’s durable, colourfast, and doesn’t shed threads like woven fabrics, but it’s synthetic material. Given its current widespread usage, including many items for babies and children, there’s lots information available on material safety. There are also environmental considerations. You can ready more in our post about using fleece for DIY dog tug toys. You can adapt any dog DIY (from here or anywhere) into other materials that you feel comfortable with using and feel are 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 natural materials are horrible for nasty stringy bits and shedding threads. Linear bodies, like strands of rope or threads, can be particularly dangerous if accidentally swallowed during play.
Don’t get me started on the myriad of pros and cons for chew toys, either. We don’t make any of our own toys for chewing, but similar safety considerations apply no matter whether we’re buying or making a toy. Often the most durable are the ones my boys aren’t interested in (extra safe…sigh) or I’m not overly keen on them nibbling long term due to their content. I loved the sniff test suggestion from Safety Bee in their old safety article. Good to know I’m not the only one sniffing and squeaking my way through the toy aisles in the pet shop!
Keep Toys Clean and Check Them Regularly
Whatever you like to play with, keep your dog toys clean. It’s healthier for your dogs and your family. Playtime and cleaning are also good opportunities to routinely inspect your toys for damage, parts that have come loose, weathered or embrittled, or bits that have been nibbled or tugged beyond safety. Just because a toy starts out safe for play, doesn’t means it will stay that way over time.
Other Potential Play (and Destruction) Issues
Don’t forget, many dogs 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. These tales of woe include a pup who ate part of the bedding in her kennel, one who swallowed part of a phone charger, and another who swallowed a large stick. All pulled through, thankfully, but needed serious medical care. Around our place, we try to keep temping items out of reach (not always easy with big dogs) or stored away when not in use, like our cat’s toys.
Tails and Tales
We’ve been fortunate to date with our boys, but that’s not to say we haven’t had our moments, even when being careful. More than a few socks have been stolen from the laundry and ripped, like the incriminating evidence above. Puppy Humphrey somehow managed to steal that from the top of the drying rack! Many years ago, discovering a few scraps of lovely new wool jumper with no sign of the rest required a serious call to hubby to determine whether young Oli had eaten my sweater (and needed rush emergency care) or if hubby had earlier found the ripped jumper and hidden the evidence (and Oli would have company in the doghouse). Fortunately for Oli, it was the latter!
Although the boys aren’t interested in eating non-food items like toys, clothing, or bedding (thank goodness), there are sometimes other temptations. As a young puppy, Humphrey stole a packet of prescription medication from high on the kitchen counter, where it should have been out of reach, requiring an emergency trip to the vet. Cupcake papers and wrappers littered along sidewalks by careless folks have been nabbed as well. And, as the grand finale in our everyday object tales, nasty nibbled grass has been responsible for some of the worst vomits and poops. I think I’ll leave you with that thought. Yuck! No matter where or what, take care and we hope you all stay safe and well, furfriends.