Dog toys; an absolute must in your canine’s life. Big or small, all pups need toys in their lives for enrichment. They keep our pets active, keep them in touch with their wild side, and keep them happy! All dogs need an assortment of toys in their playtime.
But what toys are safe? How do you go about identifying toys that your dog will like? More importantly, how do you find appropriate toys for your furry friend? They are available in all shapes and sizes, all different materials, and for all sorts of play styles.
Let’s start with safety, as it should be our number one concern.
What Makes a Dog Toy Safe?
With all of the options on the market, choosing a dog toy that’s safe may seem intimidating. They’re all different from one another and made from a wide variety of materials. Safe dog toys are a must, and understanding how to identify safe toys is a crucial skill for a dog owner.
When choosing a dog toy, size matters in more than one way. The size of your dog directly correlates to the ideal size of their toys. The two should more or less match. When considering a toy for your dog in regards to size, you have to ask yourself, “Can my dog swallow this (or any parts of it)?”
It doesn’t matter the kind of playstyle the dog likes to engage in; if your pooch can swallow a toy, it’s entirely likely that it might happen. Even if your pet treats their toys with love, some days, a squeaker or two may prove just too tempting. Since toys help dogs mimic the behavior of their wolf ancestors, it’s possible that their toys will be destroyed.
What’s It Made Of?
In the world of pet toys, the material is a key contributor to the safety of your pet. This is an essential factor in determining what toys to get your companion. While there are some black and white areas in terms of materials, a lot of this is entirely dependent on your dog, making the decision you have to make entirely unique.
A few materials to avoid at all costs are:
- Bones - This one seems almost counterintuitive, but that’s why it’s at the top of the list. Many bones are harder than your dog’s teeth and can cause damage to them as they’re chewed on. They may also splinter into tiny pieces that can be dangerous if swallowed.
- Heavily Dyed Fabrics - If a dog’s toy contains any heavily dyed fabrics, give them a smell, and it’s likely you’ll get a strong chemical scent. These dyes aren’t tested for consumption and could contain chemicals harmful to your pet.
- Hard Plastics - Avoid toys that are made of hard plastics, as they could cause damage to your dog’s teeth, too. Additionally, the chemicals used in the process of making plastic could very well be toxic if swallowed.
- Anything Dangly - This rings especially true when your dog is particularly aggressive with toys. Small strings, attachments, or plastic bits could eventually fall off, and in turn, be ingested.
Alternatively, a few materials (and phrases) to look for are:
- Natural materials - Toys made from natural materials are by default safer than toys made from chemicals. Natural rubber is good to look for, as it’s durable and long-lasting while still being soft enough for your pup’s teeth.
- BPA-free - When considering soft plastics, make sure that the toys are BPA-free. BPA has been proven to negatively affect both people and dogs, and toys that guarantee BPA-free materials are important for your pet’s health.
Play Styles and How To Accommodate Them
Dogs love to play; it’s their favorite thing to do, maybe, besides chowing down on a delicious treat. How our dogs play is key in choosing good toys for them to chew on, tug on, and chase after. After considering the materials a toy is made from, the next factor in play style is durability.
We want toys that will last for a long time while still being safe for our furry friends. Check out the following play styles and what toys will last a while for them!
Tug and Rope Toys
Most dogs love to play a little game of tug of war every now and then, and tugging toys are perfect for that. Tug of war not only promotes physical health in your dog but their mental health as well. It’s a fun game that allows them to show off their physical strength and impressive chompers. Sometimes you can get the best of both worlds in a single toy, too!
Tug toys and rope toys fall under the same category here since they allow for the same kind of play. It’s important to remember that with tug toys, you only want to present them when you’re ready to play. The tug toy is an invitation for competition and a very rowdy toy.
Always check that you’re purchasing a quality rope toy. Poor quality ropes have the ability to fray, and small parts can end up in your dog’s belly. This can cause a number of health problems, so shop carefully.
Chew toys are a staple in the dog toy market and the most common kind of toy available. There is nothing more a dog loves than sitting with a toy of their own, chewing on it, trying to tear it to bits. Because of this, chew toys have come to be made of durable materials, though some are better than others.
Never buy your dog a “chew toy” that’s actually a bone. Bone-shaped? That’s fine! But like we said earlier, bone itself is better left to their wolf ancestors.
Optimally, chew toys will be made of reinforced natural rubber, allowing for a biteable soft surface that is enjoyable for hours. These toys can also be a bit larger than fetching toys and balls. This will allow your dog to put a paw down on them and chew hard.
With all the loving your dogs give their toys, make sure to buy toys that are dishwasher safe. This will help keep your dog nice and healthy while extending the lives of their favorite toys.
Balls and Fetching Toys
No dog should ever go without a ball! Tennis balls are the classic dog toy, and almost anyone who has had a dog has purchased a canister of them. But did you know that tennis balls have come a long way in the last few years, specifically for dogs?
When buying tennis balls and fetching toys for your dog, there are a few things to take into consideration. How big is your dog? Can it possibly swallow a tennis ball or the fetching toy you’re looking at? If your dog is a large breed, you may need to look into larger options. Also, what material is the ball or toy made from? Not all tennis balls are safe for Fido.
A stellar example of a tennis ball improved for dogs specifically is the one made by the Wild One brand. These are made from pet-safe felt and natural rubber. When your dog chews your tennis balls into submission, make sure to replace them. Safety is a huge part of having fun.
Puzzle Toys and Treat Dispensers
Our furry friends love a challenge, and they deserve a good reward for conquering that challenge! The best way to provide this to them is the hybrid between play and reward with a treat-dispensing or puzzle toy. These encourage mental and physical stimulation all at once.
When purchasing one of these toys, keep in mind that the treat chamber needs to have two openings and be made of long-lasting material, like this one. This ensures that no suction can take place, which could inadvertently harm your four-legged friend. Additionally, quality material means that the toy will last a lot longer, even with the rough play that treat toys can promote!
For an extra fun challenge, freeze the toy with peanut butter or yogurt in it! As it warms up, it becomes even more rewarding for your dog. Just double-check that you are using dog-safe peanut butter.
Durable and Safe, for Good Value
When you choose your pet’s toys, you want them to be long-lasting and safe and at a good price. We hope you have a clearer idea of what toys are best for your dog family members. Play is an integral part of a dog’s mental health and just one of the many reasons owning a dog is so much fun.