Toy Safety for Adult Dogs

Dog chewing Kong
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Different dogs need different toys. Some dogs can only be trusted with the toughest, most indestructible toys on the market, so get to know your dog's chewing capabilities early if possible. When evaluating the safety of a toy, consider the following:

  • The toy should not be small enough to be inhaled or swallowed. Overly small balls are especially dangerous, as they can lodge in the trachea and cannot even be dislodged by hand. Dogs have asphyxiated in front of their owners from lodged balls.
  • The toy should not have parts that can be pulled off and inhaled or swallowed.
  • The toy should not have any sharp parts and should not be able to be chewed into sharp parts.
  • Avoid linear soft objects such as strings, ribbons, pantyhose, socks and rubber bands that can be swallowed. Such toys, if ingested, tend to travel lengthwise along the intestines. They can cause the intestine to scrunch up accordion-style, even turning in on itself like a sock. This is a life-threatening medical condition that usually requires surgery to correct.
  • Use rawhide or vegetable chewies with caution and only under supervision. If your dog can swallow a big hunk of it, it's probably not safe.
  • Avoid hard chewing items. Bones and hooves are responsible for many cuts (on lips and gums) and cracked teeth, particularly slab fractures of the large carnassial teeth (the very large premolars near the back of the mouth). In a slab fracture, a sheet of the tooth's crown breaks off, sometimes exposing the pulp of the tooth and requiring veterinary attention.
  • If your dog is obsessed with dissecting squeaky toys to get to the squeak, only let him have such toys when you can supervise him.
  • Avoid children's toys. Children and dogs are very different in their play habits.
  • Avoid any toys stuffed with beads or beans.
  • Many modern toys that emit animal sounds or move on their own contain batteries. Never leave a dog alone with such toys, as the dog could chew the battery out of the toy and swallow it.
  • 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.
  • If you give your dog a stick, 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.
  • Long ropelike or tug toys that could possibly be wrapped around a dog's neck should not be left with multiple dogs who could possibly wrap each other up in play.

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