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 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 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, 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.
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 they often kill them quickly.
I have a toy hospital where damaged dog toys go pending surgical repairs to extend their safe play life. Tugs tend to last much longer, but are also for interactive fun, which allows me to re-tie loose or torn strips and to collect and rubbish any scrappy bits. Both are very strong chewers, and some extremely tough (and expensive!) hard chew or rugged squeaky 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 have evolved. This has been a good thing for the longevity (and thereby safety) of many toys. It’s also been a consideration in the types of toys we buy, the types of toys we make, and materials we use. As they change, so can we. 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 often craft with fleece. It’s durable, colourfast, and doesn’t shed threads like woven fabrics, but it is a synthetic material. Given its current widespread usage, including many items for babies and children, there is a lot of information available on material safety. There are environmental pros and cons. 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.
Don’t get me started on the myriad of pros and cons for chew toys. 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 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!
Keep Toys Clean and Check Them Regularly
Whatever you like to play with, keep your dog toys clean as well. 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 embattled, or bits that have been nibbled 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, 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. These tales of woe include 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, thankfully, 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. They’re far too tempting to leave out.
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 above, which was somehow stolen from the top of the clothes drying rack! Many 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 (then young) 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 stole a packet of prescription medication from high on the kitchen counter, requiring an emergency trip to the vet for induced vomiting. More than a few cupcake, muffin, and burger wrappers littered along the sidewalks by careless folks have been nabbed as well. And, as the grand finale in our everyday object tales, nasty hairball-like clots of nibbled grass have been responsible for some of the worst vomits and poops. I think I’ll leave you with that thought… Yuck!