Toys. Does anything else fill a dog’s eyes with such excitement? The anticipation, the hours of playing, tugging, fetching, and squeaking than ensue is an essential part of a dog’s livelihood. Without toys, there’d be many more shredded pillows, gnawed-on furniture, and generally stressed out dogs. Toys may seem like a luxury item, but dogs need toys to help relieve stress, boredom, and encourage instinctual behavior. However, buyer beware: not all toys are created equal.
Choosing toys for your dog can be a fun, rewarding experience for many owners. There are a few things that every pet owner should keep in mind when in the midst of the toy aisle surrounded by furry plush, squeaks and grunts, bright colors and fun.
Choose the toy best for your pet’s play personality
If you’ve got a “power chewer”, like I do, those cute, but flimsy, vinyl toys are out of the question. You should keep an eye out for products that are made to handle Bruiser’s strong jaws. Try products like the Kong Extreme or those of similar materials. If you have a pup that likes to rip the stuffing out of plush toys, look for durable dog toys that are at least double stitched and made with a durable shell, like Tuffy’s dog toys. You can also offer them stuffing-free dog toys like Skinneeez that have the soft texture dogs love without the mess. There are also toys that float for water-loving pets! To avoid accidental ingestion or choking, make sure that the toys you choose are large enough that they can’t fit in the back of your dog’s mouth. Keep an eye out for damaged toys and be sure to replace them before any parts are swallowed.
Choosing toys for puppies and seniors
Keep in mind your pet’s life stage when choosing appropriate toys. Puppies should be given teething dog toys designed to hold up against their sharp puppy teeth. Puppies also have a lot of extra energy. Puzzle toys can help to diffuse some of that extra energy, though dogs of all ages appreciate mental stimulation. Toys for older dogs, on the other hand, might be made of a softer material, or contain products in the toys to help with bad breath and dental disease. Older dogs often benefit from toys that can sooth and comfort them since they are more prone to anxiety later in life.
Any toy can present a safety hazard
Even though a toy may be marketed as a dog toy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe for every situation. There are no safety standards in place for pet toy manufacturers, like there are for children’s toys. As pet parents it is our job to make sure that everything that they put in their mouth is as safe as possible. There are a few things you can do before adding a toy to your cart that help you make your choices. Sniff the toy. I know it seems silly, but if it has a chemical odor it might not be entirely safe to chew on. Toys with holes, like a ball with one large hole in it can create a suction hazard. Make sure that toys have at least two openings to avoid any danger of suffocation or suction to the tongue. Inspect brightly colored or brightly painted toys as they are the most viable candidates for high levels of lead. If the paint on a toy appears to be peeling or chipping, move on to another toy. Look for all-natural or eco-friendly toys made with natural materials such as rubber or bamboo fiber for durability.
Always supervise your pet during playtime, especially with a new toy. With these guidelines in mind, may your next trip down toy aisle bring both you and your pup everlasting fun, at least while everything is still in one piece.