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Choosing Safe Dog Toys

December 15, 2022

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month. This is definitely a timely topic for us. Our furry patients will be getting a lot of new playthings in their stockings this month! However, while one would like to think that any products made for Fido are guaranteed to be safe, that just isn’t the case. A local vet offers some helpful tips on choosing safe toys below.


One of the issues with toy safety is the fact that many contain toxic chemicals and materials. In fact, one study by Consumer Affairs discovered heavy metals, such as lead and chromium, in many dog toys. Some dog toys also contain latex, which contains BPA. Check the labels, and opt for things made of natural materials. Rice husk and natural rubber are two good options. They are safe to ingest, though you’d still want to call your vet if Fido eats a lot of it.


Choosing toys that are the right size is also very important. A German Shepherd could choke on a plaything made for small breeds, while a Pomeranian could hurt themselves chewing on something that is made for a larger pooch. If you have a growing puppy, remember to toss out little Fido’s smaller toys as he grows.


We know, many pups love chewing on rawhide. It is important for Fido to have proper chew toys. However, rawhide toys can present serious choking risks. Hard rubber toys are generally going to be the safer option. If you do give your canine buddy rawhide, supervise him closely when he’s gnawing on it, and discard it when it starts getting worn. Ask your vet for more information.

Tennis Balls

It may be cute seeing Fido happily running after tennis balls, but be careful. These are extremely dangerous for large breeds, as they present potentially-fatal choking risks. Consider teaching your furry friend the commands to Leave It and Drop It. Even if you don’t give your pooch tennis balls at home, he could find one at the dog park!


You’ll also need to be careful of toys with holes in them. Because of the suction, your canine pal could potentially get his tongue stuck in them. Kong toys are quite safe, but again, you’ll need to pick the right size. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Our Advice on Choosing Safe Dog Toys in 2024

Are there any specific types of rubber or materials used in hard rubber toys that are safer or more durable than others?

When selecting hard rubber toys for dogs, natural rubber is a safe and durable option. It is non-toxic and resilient, providing a long-lasting chew toy. Avoid toys containing BPA or phthalates, which can be harmful. Additionally, rice husk rubber is a good alternative, as it is eco-friendly and safe for dogs to chew on. Brands that focus on pet safety often use these materials to ensure durability and safety. Always check labels and opt for toys specifically designed for dogs to ensure they meet safety standards.

How often should dog owners inspect their pet’s toys for signs of wear, damage, or potential choking hazards?

Dog owners should inspect their pet’s toys at least once a week for signs of wear, damage, or potential choking hazards. Regular inspection helps identify frayed edges, cracks, or broken parts that could pose risks. Additionally, it’s crucial to monitor toys after each play session, especially if the dog is an aggressive chewer. Damaged toys should be promptly discarded to prevent ingestion of harmful materials or choking incidents. Consistent vigilance ensures the safety and well-being of the dog while enjoying their playtime.

Are there any specific cleaning or sanitizing methods that can be used to ensure dog toys remain safe and hygienic?

To ensure dog toys remain safe and hygienic, regular cleaning is essential. Hard rubber and plastic toys can be cleaned with mild soap and warm water and then thoroughly rinsed. Dishwasher-safe toys can be sanitized using the dishwasher’s hot cycle. For fabric or plush toys, machine wash them using a pet-safe detergent and air dry. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can be harmful if ingested. Regular cleaning, ideally weekly or after heavy use, helps prevent the buildup of bacteria and keeps toys safe for continued use.

What are some signs that a dog may be experiencing discomfort or an obstruction from a toy?

Signs that a dog may be experiencing discomfort or an obstruction from a toy include excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth, gagging, or retching. Additionally, the dog may exhibit difficulty swallowing, sudden loss of appetite, or become unusually quiet or lethargic. Persistent coughing, choking sounds, and visible distress are also red flags. If these symptoms are observed, it’s crucial to inspect the dog’s mouth for any lodged objects and seek immediate veterinary assistance to prevent further complications and ensure the dog’s safety and well-being.

Are there any age-specific considerations that should be taken into account when selecting toys for puppies, adult dogs, or senior pets?

When selecting toys for dogs, age-specific considerations are crucial. Puppies need durable, teething-friendly toys that can withstand chewing and promote dental health. Soft rubber and plush toys are suitable. Adult dogs benefit from a variety of toys, including chew toys, puzzle toys, and fetch toys, to meet their high energy and mental stimulation needs. Senior dogs, with potentially reduced dental strength and mobility, require softer toys that are gentle on their teeth and joints. Interactive toys that promote gentle play and mental engagement are ideal for older pets.

Do you have questions about dog toys? Contact us, your local animal clinic in Waterdown, ON today!

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