Dogs and chewing go together like peanut butter and jelly. So, chew toys are essential to a happy and healthy pet. They help fight boredom, protect your furniture and shoes from teething puppies, and provide comfort to those painful gums, as well as calm a nervous dog. But not all chew toys are safe. Some are better for certain breeds or sizes and some are just plain not safe. Here are some tips to help you navigate the aisles of chew toys in your pet store.
Perhaps the most controversial of the chewing options are rawhide bones. There can be several problematic issues with bones and chew toys made from rawhide. One, if your dog breaks off large pieces of rawhide and ingests them, they can get stuck in the intestinal tract and cause a blockage. This can be more problematic in breeds such as Labs and Pit Bulls who tend to tear and gulp and not chew the rawhide into small pieces. The second issue is with the way rawhide is processed. If it is not processed correctly it can contain toxins.
Most rawhide processed in the US undergoes a stringent sterilizing and washing process. However, rawhide imported from other countries does not always follow these guidelines. VetStreet.com suggests buying on American made products and contacting the company to inquire about their processing methods. Rawhide, or any product made from a live animal source, can also contain salmonella. Dogs with healthy immune systems don’t typically have issues with salmonella. However, humans and dogs with compromised immune systems can get very sick. Don’t allow children to handle rawhide or pig or cow ears and always wash your hands immediately after handling they types of products.
Hard rubber toys like Kongs and Nylabones are great alternatives to rawhide toys as they provide the teething comfort and chewing sensation but not the dangerous elements of rawhide. Always check with your vet before giving your dog any bone or toy that is made of rawhide.
Both soft and hard toys can be good options and it is good to have a mix of both. With soft toys, always check what the toy is filled with. Avoid toys stuffed with nutshells or polystyrene beads. Not only are these choking hazards but can cause digestive issues if swallowed. Even stuffing that is considered safe can be ingested and cause stomach issues. One your dog has torn a soft toy open, throw it away.
Hard rubber toys, like those mentioned above, are great chewing options. These types of toys and bones provide hours of distraction and comfort. Puppies need harder toys when teething to soothe gums and help adult teeth come in. Tennis balls are a good option as well but, like soft toys, can be destroyed easily. Be sure to discard a tennis ball once your dog has started breaking off pieces.
When choosing toys for your fur baby, think about the guidelines for a human baby. If you give your dog a toy not specifically designed for a dog, check the age limit. If it says not recommended for children under three, it’s likely not good for your fur baby either. Toys like these often contain small parts that could present a choking hazard. Choose toys that are appropriate for your dog’s size. Ensure that he can’t work the toy to the back of his mouth and choke. Remove any eyes, strings, or parts that can be chewed off and swallowed.
Just like with children, dogs need a variety of toys. Provide toys that serve different purposes. Toys for chewing, teething, and boredom busting are essential. But pups also need toys for cuddling, carrying, and interacting with you. Active, comfort, and distraction toys should all be in your fur baby’s toy box. Active toys, like ropes for tug-of-war, are perfect for pet/human interaction. Distraction toys, like “busy boxes” or toys that you can hide treats in, provide boredom busting play that is helpful when you are away. And stuffed toys or your old t-shirts or blankets can provide comfort for your dog.
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