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Safety First: Choosing Safe Pet Toys

It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt, or so the saying goes. We normally reserve this saying for our children, but in many cases it can be extended to our pets as well.

As of yet, there is no set standard for safety when it comes to pet playthings, so for the time being, it’s up to pet owners to figure out what constitutes safe pet toys and what doesn’t. Fortunately, you have several excellent tools at your disposal: the advice of your veterinarian, your knowledge of your individual pet, and your own common sense.

Safe Pet Toys For Dogs

Your dog’s size, energy level, and personal preferences should all come into play (pun intended) when you are choosing toys for him or her. Consider the following:

Chewing toys – We don’t recommend bones for dogs, as they can contribute to broken teeth, splinter and become lodged in the throat or mouth, or cause gastrointestinal obstruction or rupture. Instead, opt for durable, “indestructible” rubber toys such as the Kong toy, or Nylabone. Rawhide chew toys are not generally recommended and should only be given to your dog under supervision, as they could pose a choking hazard.

Stuffed toys – Dogs use stuffed toys in a variety of ways ranging from comfort to play hunting/killing. Stuffed toys should be large enough to prevent accidental swallowing and also sturdy enough to withstand “attacks”. Pet toys with squeakers inside should not be purchased for dogs with a penchant for ripping apart their toys, as the squeaker could become a choking risk.

Active toys – Tennis balls are perfect for dogs who love fetch, just be sure to discard them if they start to fall apart. There are a variety of food puzzle toys on the market, all of which are aimed at providing mental stimulation. Kong-type toys make great active toys and can be used for fetch, general carrying around, or can be stuffed with treats or frozen peanut butter.

Safe Pet Toys For Cats

There’s something special about watching a cat play, it’s even more exciting if you can get in on the action yourself!

  • Cats love to bat at and pounce on balls and other small toys, just make sure kitty can’t get his or her paws on anything small enough to swallow. Chaser toys such as feather wands are a fun way for cat owners to engage in play with their kitties. Be sure to keep string, fishing line, and other household items away from your cat, as these could pose choking or strangulation risks.
  • Many cats enjoy carrying around or “fighting” with plush toys. Just be sure your cat’s stuffed animals don’t have any small plastic parts that could pose a choking hazard.
  • Cats and kittens love playing in paper bags! Paper bags and cardboard boxes make great toys for cats. Plastic bags, on the other hand, are not safe pet toys, as small pieces can be chewed off and swallowed.

Here Comes The Fun Part!

Now that you’ve educated yourself on what compromises a safe pet toy, it’s time to select some toys for your pet! You know your pet best, and his or her personality and “playing style” will help you to determine which types of toys to choose. Playing with your pet supports bonding between the two of you, so make sure you get in on the fun as well!

At West Park Animal Hospital, we believe strongly in the importance of play for all pets. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding safe pet toys.

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