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Tips for Selecting Safe Dog Toys

Small dog sitting on couch with dog toys

Samia Liamani/

These guidelines compiled by Vetstreet are recommended by veterinarian Karen Shaw Becker to help in choosing toys that will keep a dog not only happy, but safe.

• Choose toys that are the right size for your dog. Giving a small toy to a large dog poses a risk of inhalation and choking. Small balls are especially dangerous, as they can easily become lodged in your dog’s trachea. Generally speaking, you should choose large toys for large dogs and smaller toys only for smaller dogs.

• Avoid toys that have small parts that can be chewed or pulled off and those with sharp edges or that can be chewed into sharp points.

• When playing fetch, avoid toys that are heavy or hard enough to damage your dog’s teeth or injure him.

• If your dog likes to de-stuff toys, be sure he’s not eating the stuffing. Some dogs really enjoy stuffing-free toys.

Toys That Require Close Supervision

• Long, rope-like or tug toys, since they can become wrapped around your dog’s neck

• Squeaky toys if your dog likes to play “rip out the squeaker”

• Battery-operated toys, because if your dog manages to get the batteries out and swallows them, it can result in battery toxicosis

• Tennis balls, which can be a choking hazard for large dogs, and the abrasive fuzz may wear down the teeth of an aggressive or persistent chewer

• Frisbees and similar flying discs that may cause your dog to jump up and twist simultaneously, which can lead to leg and back injuries

Toys to Avoid

• String, ribbon, pantyhose, socks and rubber bands, all of which can be swallowed and cause life-threatening complications in the digestive tract

• Children’s toys (such as stuffed animals); they’re not designed to withstand the type of play dogs engage in

• Toys stuffed with beads or beans

• Rocks and sticks

• Containers (including bags) large enough for your dog to put his head in; if it becomes stuck, he can suffocate

• Tug toys for dogs with neck or back problems, such as herniated disks

• Rubber toys with a hole in only one end, as they can form a vacuum that catches your dog’s tongue

• Rawhide chews aren’t recommended for several reasons, including that they pose a high risk of choking and intestinal obstruction


Toyland for Pooches: Choosing Safe Playthings a Dog Will Love

Veterinary advice on what to consider when selecting toys for dogs that are safe, stimulating and long-lasting. Read More » 


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