How To Choose Safe Toys For Your Dog | PetFirst
How To Choose Safe Toys For Your Dog
Pet Care & Health

How To Choose Safe Toys For Your Dog

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
3 months ago

It’s not only fun to buy toys for your dog; toys are also essential for your canine companion’s physical and emotional well-being. However, if you are a large dog owner, buying the wrong toys can cost you dearly.

To be sure your pups health is not put in jeopardy, consider giving your furry friend toys specifically designed to withstand their strength and bite.

Why Toys Are Important

Toys help prevent your dog from being bored and provide comfort when he or she is feeling nervous. By offering toys to your dog, you are teaching him to entertain himself, interact with others, and preventing behavior problems.

Dog toys serve to initiate playtime with your dog, as well as to train young dogs and puppies. Like human babies, young dogs learn about and experience the world by putting everything in their mouths.  Your dog relies upon you, as his owner, to make safe choices when it comes to the items he is allowed to have and possibly chew once in their paws. Your pup doesn’t know the difference between the TV remote control and a dog frisbee until you teach him6.  

What to Look For in a Dog Toy

Play with all types of pet toys should be supervised. If your dog is a large, aggressive chewer, you want to make sure that no part of the toy breaks off, as it can be ingested or can cause injury to your dog. Additionally, it is important to throw out any toy once it has been torn or damaged in any way.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a toy for your canine:

  • Dog’s size: Dogs will chew a toy the same way they would chew their prey; they would tear and shear the item with the rear molars. A large dog with a high prey drive can ultimately push a toy to the back of its mouth as it follows this instinct7. To prevent choking hazards, avoid buying toys that are too small for large dogs.  Large rubber toys are an excellent choice for large, powerful dogs because they are more difficult to chew and swallow.
  • Dog’s age and activity level: If you are buying a chew toy for a puppy, you will have different needs than if you are buying a chew toy for an adult dog. The puppy will chew because its teeth are coming in, which will change as time goes on.
  • Dog’s playstyle: Consider whether your dog likes to play rough, prefers interactive play, or spends much time alone with his toy. Does he chew nonstop? Would he benefit from a toy that stimulates his mind like a treat-dispensing toy?

Look for toys that list the dog’s size on the packaging. If you have a dog that tends to destroy most toys, look for toys that specifically state they are for “tough” or aggressive chewers.

Toys and Pet Safety

Many factors contribute to the safety of a toy including the size of the toy, the toy’s filling, and whether the toy has been compromised.

The Humane Society of the United States recommends checking labels on all stuffed toys to verify that they are labeled as safe for children under three years of age. Check to see that toys do not contain dangerous fillings, such as nutshells or polystyrene beads8

While some fillings are considered safe, keep in mind that no filling or stuffing is positively safe for ingestion.

Many soft toys sold now are machine washable, making them much easier to clean.  Clean toys regularly either by hand or (if indicated) in the washing machine. Look toys over after each play session and discard any toys that are torn or broken. 

Material Matters

If you have a big tough chewer, you already know that no material is truly indestructible.  However, when it comes to aggressive chewers, all materials are not created equal.  Some are better than others.

The following materials usually stand the test of strong teeth:

Rubber: Many of the dog toys that have been created for powerful chewers are rubber.  Rubber is as indestructible as a material can get without breaking the bank and the dog’s teeth.  Rubber toys should be your first choice when looking for tough toys for large dogs.

Rubber toys are a top choice for teething puppies because they are durable, yet they have some give.

Thick rope material: Rope is another durable option.  Rope toys are machine washable, fun for tough chewers, and generally a safe choice9. Owners can also use rope toys with their canine companions for tug-of-war games, which provide a fun, interactive play opportunity for dogs and their people!

Stay Away – Don’t Play!

Unfortunately, some toys that are suitable for smaller dogs don’t hold up under the jaws of larger breeds or powerful chewers. 

If your pup has been known to shred toys to bits in no time, here are some items to avoid:

Toys with parts that can quickly come off: Any stuffed toy that has ribbons, eyes, buttons, a nose, or any dangling accessory is an easy target for your pooch.

Tennis balls: Stay away from regular tennis balls if you have a large dog or an aggressive chewer. Some companies make similar balls specifically for dogs.  While tennis balls are okay for most chewers, powerful chewers can quickly destroy them and risk swallowing pieces of the ball10.  Additionally, over-chewing of the fuzz on a tennis ball can wear down a dog’s teeth.

Rawhides, pig’s ears, and bully sticks:  Although these provide long-lasting entertainment, they can cause stomach problems. Your dog can chew off pieces which then become choking hazards, or worse.  Parts can become lodged in the trachea or digestive tract.

Any item that is harder than a dog’s teeth: Some pet shops sell bones, cow hooves, and even elk antlers as chew toys for dogs.   While your dog may not destroy them, these items could end up cracking or even breaking your dog’s teeth11

Plush toys and toys with squeakers: Plush toys may look adorable. Still, many dogs will tear these apart in seconds, leaving a mess (and potential choking hazard) in their wake. Many stuffed dog toys also contain squeakers. Big dogs can quickly demolish them to find the squeaker. Some dogs mimic hunting behavior and may look like they are trying to “kill” their “prey” by destroying the squeaker toy12. Dogs who make it their mission to find the squeaker will often eat it, so it’s best to steer clear of these unless you can supervise your super chewer.

Latex and vinyl toys: These materials do not hold up to aggressive chewers.  Additionally, chewing on objects made of latex or vinyl can create sharp edges that can injure your dog13. Different dogs react differently to toys.  A good rule of thumb is never to leave your pup alone with a new toy.  Supervise the first few play sessions to make sure the toy is a safe choice for your dog.

Now that you have some helpful tips of what to look for when giving your pup the perfect toy – let playtime begin! You can even join in the fun with your pup if you desire. Just remember, playing is an important, healthy activity for all dogs.

Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses can happen to all pets – even during playtime. PetFirst Pet Insurancecan help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. PetFirst Pet Insurance1  has cat and dog insurance policies2 to fit every budget. 

Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today.


1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.

2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.

6How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Dog

7How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Dog

8Dog toys: How to pick the best and safest

919 Best Indestructible Dog Toys For Aggressive Chewers [2020 Update]

10What Type of Chew Toys are Safe for Dogs? 

11Zoetispetcare.com 

12How to Choose the Right Toys for Your Dog 

13K9ofmine.com

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