Selecting Safe Toys

Reprinted with permission from the ASPCA 2005

Worried that your dog gets bored when you’re not around? Or are you looking to spice up interactive playtime with your pet? There are many toys available at pet supply stores that can safely fill the needs of you and your pet. Here are some tips to consider before you buy.

Most dogs love any kind of activity that involves chasing, capturing and retrieving. This stimulates their natural retrieving instincts. Balls do the job beautifully, but make sure they’re not poorly made or small enough for your dog to swallow. A Frisbee or a tennis ball sewn into a sock will send your canine running, too. Toys with squeakers may appeal to a dog’s hunting instincts, but it is a good idea to avoid products with small inner parts that your dog could eat.

Chewing is an all-time favorite canine pastime. It’s also satisfying enough that your dog will probably spend hours doing it in your absence. It’s best to make sure he chews on an appropriate toy rather than your furniture. Chewing not only curtails boredom but it helps keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy and plaque-free.

Let your dog exercise his jaws until his heart is content with a hard, rubber chew toy. Some of these toys bounce erratically, which may take your dog by pleasant surprise and stimulate him to perfect the art of the chase. Some toys allow you to hide treats within. The hidden treats will come out during play to keep your dog’s interest. You can also provide your dog with rawhide chews. Never give your pet wooden chewables and toys. Wood can splinter into pieces that may cause ulcers and other digestive problems if swallowed. Also, give poultry and pork bones the boot.  They, too, can splinter and cause damage to your dog’s teeth and mouth. Cooked beef marrow bones are acceptable and nylon bones are great, too.

Dog pulls or similar tug-of-war toys such as knotted ropes are great for two dogs to play together. If you decide to join in on the game, please exercise caution. This type of toy is appropriate for your dog only if he willingly gives it up when you say the word. The ASPCA does not recommend that you give your pet your old clothing or shoes as toys. He will probably not restrict himself to these items but rather see your offer as an invitation to chew anything that bears your scent.

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