Do's and Don'ts for Picking Puppy Toys

Puppy with chew toy
Avoid giving your puppy toys that are too small or are filled with beads or beans.

Puppies tend to love toys, and it can be fun to shower them with new things. But there are many different types of toys out there, so how do you choose an appropriate item for your young furry friend?

When selecting a toy, keep your puppy's changing size and strength in mind. You should also keep in mind that some toys may pose dangers for your pup, so talk to your veterinarian about the safest toys for your dog. When evaluating the safety of a toy, consider the following:

  • Toys should not be small enough to be accidentally inhaled or swallowed. 
  • Toys should not have parts that can be pulled off and inhaled or swallowed.
  • Toys should not have any sharp parts and should not form sharp edges when chewed.
  • Puppies need to chew, but use rawhide and other chewies with the potential to be ingested only under supervision. If your puppy can chew off a big hunk of it, this can pose a choking hazard, so it's best to get a larger size or tougher variety.
  • Avoid hard items such as butcher shop bones or hooves, which can break teeth
  • Avoid linear objects such as strings, ribbons, pantyhose, socks and rubber bands, all of which can be swallowed. 
  • If your puppy is obsessed with dissecting squeaky toys to get to the squeaker, only let him have such toys when you can supervise him (and remove the squeaker before your dog can get it).
  • Avoid any toys stuffed with beads or beans.
  • Many toys that emit animal sounds or move on their own contain batteries, which can be toxic. Never leave a puppy alone with these toys, as he could potentially swallow the battery.
  • Never give your puppy a container in which his head could become lodged. 
  • In general, it's best not to allow your puppy to play with or chew on sticks, which can break and injure the mouth or other parts of the digestive tract.
  • Do not use rocks as fetch toys.
  • Avoid rubber toys that have a small hole in only one end. Some dogs have gotten their tongues stuck in the hole.

Remember that as your puppy grows, he will likely also grow out of his toys. For instance, toys that were once an appropriate size for him may become too small and pose choking hazards, and toys he once couldn't chew up may easily be shredded when he's older and stronger, again presenting choking or toxicity problems. So as he gets older, make sure he's got appropriate toys — and make sure you make the time to play with him!

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