We recently shared a story on Facebook about a tragic situation involving a rope toy. A pet parent was devastated after their dog shredded the toy, ingesting long pieces of it that ended up causing the dog to pass away. While this situation isn’t necessarily common, it is something that can happen. We wanted to provide some safety tips when it comes to dog toys, and, as always, if you feel like your dog has consumed something foreign, please call SOVSC immediately and we can decide on next steps.
There are multiple factors that contribute to the danger (or safety) of a toy. Many of those factors are dependent upon your dog’s size, activity level and play style. Understanding that, here are some guidelines:
· Toys should be appropriate for your dog’s current size. Like toy warnings for children, toys that are too small can be easily swallowed or become lodged in your dog’s mouth or throat. Even tennis balls can be too small for large dogs!
· Avoid toys that are not meant for dogs, like children’s toys, for example. Anything that has ribbons, strings, and so on, can be chewed off and ingested.
· Squeaker toys can be hazardous to dogs that have a rough play type. Some dogs rip the toy apart to get to the squeaker and then eat it. This goes for toys that are battery operated as well. If your dog has any indication of this type of play, they should be supervised with this kind of toy.
· Discard toys that are starting to break into pieces or has pieces torn off (INCLUDES ROPE). If a harder toy breaks off, it can leave sharp pieces with can tear your dog’s mouth and can do even worse damage if swallowed.
· Ask your veterinarian (or us!) about the safety of items like bones, hooves, pig’s ears and rawhides. These should only be given under supervision. Some brands have been recalled, and some kinds are known to be hazardous. Hard rubber toys are safer and last longer!
· When choosing a rubber toy, avoid ones that only have a small hole on one end. Dogs can get their tongues stuck (vacuum).
· Never give your dog a container in which the dog’s head could become lodged. Dogs cannot pull these containers off and have suffocated when they became stuck.
· Be careful with sticks! Be sure it doesn’t have sharp ends and that it is either too short or too long to be jabbed into the ground should the dog hold it by one end (as though he were drinking out of a straw). A running dog carrying a stick like this can ram the far end of the stick into the ground, impaling the end in his mouth up into his palate or throat.
· Know your dog! Your dog has its own personality and chewing habits. Some dogs will carry a plush toy around for years while others will rip it apart the moment they get it. Just because they tear it apart, doesn’t mean they’ll will eat the pieces, but some will. If your dog falls into the latter category, do not leave them alone with toys they might destroy/ingest.
It seems scary to let your dog play with anything! And, unfortunately there are no regulations when it comes to pet toys. If you follow the guidelines above and exercise caution, there are plenty of toys for your dog to play with! When in doubt, ask your vet’s advice.