It’s Not All Fun and Games – Potentially Dangerous Dog Toys
Many commonly used dog toys can be dangerous if not properly maintained or play is not supervised. Toys can be homemade, purchased or "found.” Make sure you inspect the toy because some toys sold in pet shops and supermarkets feature small parts and decorations that fall off or can be chewed off. These toys can choke your dog, so beware as you make your purchases, and be sure to replace toys immediately if they have parts that appear to be loosening or wearing out.
Dog Ball Toys
Balls can be deadly choke hazards, depending on the size of the ball and the size of your dog. Smaller sized balls can become very slimy and can slip down your dog's throat and cause her to choke. Tennis balls are among the safest balls for your dog to play with because their size and fuzzy sides make them unlikely to be a choking hazard for most dogs.
Before giving any bones to your dog, make sure that they are big enough to prevent swallowing whole. Poultry and rib bones are a bad idea because they tend to break and splinter. The best bet is to buy a natural bone that is specially treated to be safe for your dog. Always supervise your dog while he is chewing a bone because bones can splinter and choke your pet, or cut the inside of her mouth and throat. If you think your dog may have ingested part of a bone, seek veterinary attention for treatment.
Stuffed Dog Toys
If your dog likes to rip and tear, stuffed toys can be dangerous. If the toy has button eyes or other small parts that can come off, your dog can swallow or choke on them. Also, even if the toy is labeled safe for children (and therefore for pets) the stuffing inside can be another choking hazard and possible intestinal problem if your dog swallows the cotton stuffing.
It’s important to be aware of your dog’s chewing habits; depending on the quality of the rawhide and your dog's enthusiasm, larger pieces can break off and be swallowed. If the pieces are too large they can cause intestinal blockages. Rawhide that is not made in North America can also contain chemical residues that can be harmful to your dog's health. Always supervise your dog when he's enjoying a rawhide chew. When the size of the rawhide gets small enough that he can put the entire piece in his mouth, it is time to throw it away in order to avoid accidental ingestion.
When providing toys for your dog:
- Purchase only pet-safe or child-safe toys. Visually inspect the toy for small parts that could pose a choking hazard. Be certain that all toys are sturdy and securely sewn together, and replace any toys with parts that look loose or damaged.
- Avoid toys that have ribbons, feathers, strings, eyes or other small parts that could fall off, be removed, chewed or eaten.
- Do not allow the dog to play with any object that could easily be swallowed.
- Use nothing smaller than a ping-pong ball as a dog toy to avoid the possibility of choking.
- Avoid toys with sharp parts or corners.
- Consider soft, stuffed toys, which should be machine washable. Check labels for child safety; a stuffed toy labeled as safe for children under three years old cannot contain dangerous fillings.