How To Know If Your Dog’s Toys Are Safe

Dogs need toys. It’s really that simple. Just look at your pup’s eyes when you pull out his favorite ball or stuffed teddy bear. Could you imagine not ever giving him any sort of gift? The days of simple tennis balls are over – there are just about as many dog toys are there are kid toys these days! There are aisles and aisles of different toys to choose from, and each dog has his or her own favorites (although owner’s may have different favorites…getting tired of replacing the same toy over and over). But there is one thing that should be in the front of everyone’s mind when choosing a toy for their beloved pet – safety.

shutterstock_135584798Safety is not something that should be taken lightly with our pets. Most of us are making an effort to feed the higher quality foods, get some basic obedience done and keeping our pets safe while we travel, but toys are something not everyone considers when they think of traumas. Unfortunately, just as we have dangerous treats and foods, we have dangerous toys for dogs.

What to Avoid

Certain types of toys remain more dangerous than others. For example, toys with a single entry hole can create a deadly suction in your pet’s mouth, helping it get lodged and increasing the risk of choking. Size is also important. Giving a tennis ball to your Chihuahua probably won’t be much of an issue, but your Newfoundland can easily choke on it. Toys that contain small parts, such as stuffed animals with plastic eyes and noses, should also be avoided. Even average chewers typically have no problem getting these pieces off and swallowing on them – another choking hazard. Even if something is meant to be swallowed, such as rawhide, large pieces that are ingested can result in intestinal blockages that can cause surgery and death. Remember that size is relative, and you generally want to get toys that your pet cannot get past his molars, as this will greatly decrease any choking hazards. This will be very different from your toy breeds to your giant breeds, but even individuals in a given breed (or mixes) will vary.

Other Concerns

With the recent and ongoing illnesses and deaths related to chicken treats and lead-contaminated toys coming from China, it’s natural to be concerned about toys that are not made in the United States. There have been cases of toys that are contaminated with heavy metals coming from China for children as well as pets, and looking to see where your toys are being made is important. However, when we consider that the majority of pet food recalls are from United States companies, we realize that it’s important to look into a company’s history when it comes to toy safety. Even toys made in the United States can contain toxic fabric dyes and BPA.


Luckily, most of the safest toys are coming from United States companies. Either way, it’s important to research each company and each toy. Most find that after an accident and a serious injury, illness or death of a pet related to a toy, they aren’t alone. Read reviews, ask questions, and use your instincts. Whether your pup is a heavy chewer and prefers the tough rubber toys, or is a softy that likes to cuddle with his stuffed toy, safety should be of utmost importance. Remember, it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Let’s do our best to make sure no one gets hurt and the only thing that continues is the fun. After all, no pup likes getting stuck in the cone of shame, and no owner wants to lose a pet after a tragic accident during playtime. So do your research, stay safe, and throw that Frisbee already!!

About the Author

Katie is a professional dog trainer located in Southern California, with a background of experience as a veterinary assistant as well. She has trained and competed with multiple breeds in AKC Obedience and Rally, agility, herding, Schutzhund/IPO, French Ring and conformation. She has been involved in dogs since she was a child, and specializes in protection dogs, working dogs, and aggression issues. You can visit her website, Katie’s Dog Training, to find out more information about her training and accomplishments. When she’s not helping others and writing, she’s out on the field with her Belgian Malinois and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

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