Dog Toy Safety: Are Indestructible and Stuffed Toys Safe?

For most dogs, toys are not a luxury – they are a necessity. Toys help fight boredom, provide a mental and physical outlet for energy, and keep dogs comforted in new and unfamiliar situations.

Balls, rope toys, and chew toys are popular choices, but many dogs will play with absolutely anything they can get their paws on, including clothing and other non-toy items. Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates wants to shed some light on dog toy safety and give you some tips about how to tell if toys are safe for your best friend.

Safety First

Unfortunately, there are no governmental safety regulations for dog toys. This means that much of the responsibility for choosing a safe dog toy falls on pet owners. Some toys are made from toxic materials and contain unsafe levels of lead, BPA, or other chemicals. Avoid a strong chemical smell and try to choose toys thoughtfully. When in doubt about a particular toy, ask us!

Dog Toy Safety

Dog toy safety largely depends on your dog’s size, age, breed, and playing style. Some careful observation is necessary.

Size – When choosing a dog toy, choose toys that are the right size for your dog. Toys should not be so small that they can be swallowed or become lodged in your dog’s throat.

Fillings and materials Soft toys are not indestructible, and someare sturdier than others. Choose toys that don’t contain any dangerous fillings. Fillings to avoid are nutshells and polypropylene beads, but keep in mind that no filling is truly digestible.

Check labels on soft toys to make sure they are safe for children under 3. Remove any small parts (such as eyes, ribbons, or strings) that could be chewed off and ingested.

Search and Destroy Some dogs are driven to rip any toy to shreds. If your dog always pulls the stuffing out of toys, consider gutting the toy for him and giving him the skin to play with instead.

Some dogs are obsessed with dissecting squeaky toys to get to the squeak. If your dog falls into this category, only let him have such toys when you are there to directly supervise him.

A note about rawhide – Rawhide should only be given with caution. Strong chewers may tear the rawhide into large chunks which can become lodged in the intestine, requiring surgery to remove.

Tennis balls The ever-popular tennis ball may even be an unsafe choice depending on the size of your dog. Balls can become lodged in your dog’s throat, blocking the airway and being nearly impossible to remove. Tennis balls are definitely not indestructible, and pieces can be caught in your dog’s intestinal tract. Lastly, even chewing on tennis balls may be problematic due to the rough surface, which may be abrasive to your dog’s teeth, wearing  down the protective coating.

Safe Dog Toy Ideas

No dog toy is ever truly indestructible. But some of the best loved dog toys are also the safest. If you have specific questions about dog safe toys, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. For some ideas to get you started, consider the following:

  • Kong toys are tough, and can be filled with treats to add time to your dog’s play. Great for strong chewers.
  • Nylabone is a hard rubber toy that comes in many shapes and sizes and can be chewed and carried around.
  • Rope toys can be fun for dogs who like to play “tug”. Make sure both ends are knotted so as to help your dog avoid swallowing string pieces.
  • Busy box and feeder toys are hard rubber toys that contain puzzles which dispense treats when “solved”. Nina Ottosson designs several different skill levels so your dog has something to work up to.
  • Some dogs love stuffed toys to play with and carry around. Always supervise your pet, and remove the toy if they begin to rip it apart.

A good rule of thumb is to rotate your dog’s toys weekly to prevent boredom. Interactive play with you is always important, so incorporate a game of ball, frisbee, or fetch into your days.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We’re here to help!