Elise Wong Huey Wen
Dog Toys: Keeping It Safe and Fun
Updated: May 15
Many dogs love toys. However, it is important to ensure that your furkid’s favourite toy is safe for them to play with. While toys can provide fun and enjoyment for dogs, they can also pose risks and result in injuries that may require veterinary care.
Well, safety first! Here is what every responsible pawrent should know about dog toys to keep their dogs safe and happy.
(Credits to Pexels)
Unlocking the benefits of enrichment toys for dogs
Playing with dog toys can help with mental stimulation — it is like solving a puzzle for humans! Just like us, they need freshness and excitement in their lives because they may become bored with their surroundings. We all know how bored we feel with the same old routine.
Interactive puzzle toys are recommended by experts in dog behaviour to keep your buddy busy while they are alone, provide them with exercise and stave off boredom. They offer wonderful entertainment! However, according to Sara Richter, a certified dog behaviour consultant, puzzle toys range in difficulty from easy to hard, and a toy that is too difficult can easily frustrate them and cause them to give up.
Start with an easier puzzle toy, let your dog build confidence. In that case, you can also take note of the kind of toys your dog likes and does not like. At the same time, after they figure out the puzzle, you should give them lots of praise because recognition also boosts their confidence.
If you have a dog, you should know that they love exploring and searching for things — dogs are curious creatures by nature! You can easily make an enrichment game using a variety of puzzle toys that they already love. Enrichment toys can enhance their ability to learn and help them develop new skills. Through this, you are not only satisfying their instinct to forage but you are also activating their sense of smell!
Making puzzle toys at home can also be a fun and cost-effective way to provide enrichment for your dog. Simple DIY options include hiding treats in empty cardboard boxes or containers, using muffin tins to create a treat-dispensing game, or stuffing a Kong toy with peanut butter or other dog-friendly foods. With a little creativity, you can create a variety of puzzle toys to keep your dog mentally stimulated and entertained.
Enriching your dog’s life is simpler than you think. You can buy dog toys in pet stores (please buy from pet stores that do not sell animals), online platforms, or even make one yourself. By providing them with a mere puzzle toy, they will associate you with the fun and excitement of the toy and love you even more!
Some toys come with its own risk
Dog toys are essential for dogs but they can also pose dangers to them. Some of the most common injuries caused by dog toys are choking, intestinal obstruction, mouth or tooth injuries, toxic exposure and bacterial buildup.
Many dogs love playing with tennis balls because they love to fetch but these balls do not stand up to chewing very well. Heavy chewers will require tough rubber toys that will not be broken into pieces. Additionally, it is crucial to choose the right-sized ball for your dog to avoid a choking risk, as a ball that is too small can fit past your dog’s front teeth.
Sometimes your dog may even swallow a toy and the symptoms of an intestinal obstruction include nausea, diarrhoea, anorexia and lethargy. According to Kirsten Butler, a veterinarian technician, if the dog is fortunate, small pieces of the toy may pass through its intestinal tract and be eliminated with its stool. However, if the pieces are big, it may require a surgical removal.
Chew toys that are harder than a dog’s teeth can also cause tooth injuries. Hard plastic and hard nylon dog toys are not only dangerous to your dog’s teeth but they are also toxic. Dogs can come into contact with toxic chemicals when they ingest parts of a dog toy. Plastic or rubber toys are particularly risky as they may contain harmful materials like bisphenol A (BPA).
(Credits to Lisa Godfrey)
Lastly, don’t forget to clean your dog’s favourite toys regularly! Use pet-safe antibacterial dish soap and hot water to clean their toys for health reasons. Dog toys can harbour germs, bacteria and other pathogens if they are not cleaned regularly. Thus, please remember to inspect their toys every other week to prevent them from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria!
Pawrents, the best way to keep your dog out of danger’s way is to monitor them while they are playing with their dog toys. However, you should not eliminate them from your dog’s life despite the risks. You can also purchase high-quality toys and have a thorough look at them before giving them to your dog.
Please visit a veterinarian if your buddy starts to act strangely after playing with a toy. Let's ensure the safety of our dogs while keeping them happy and active!
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You should also read our story on the awesome Karin, a local independent rescuer, if you would like to learn more about the stray dog population crisis in Malaysia.