Factors to Consider When Choosing Dog Toys

by Jodi Thornton O'Connell
    Don't choose a toy based on cuteness alone.

    Don't choose a toy based on cuteness alone.

    Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Bonding with your dog at playtime is an ideal way to strengthen the human-canine connection, and colorful and imaginative toys designed to help us do just that line the pet store shelves. When choosing a toy, give consideration to your pet's size, strength and play style as well as the toy's construction.

    While the cuteness factor of dog toys that closely resemble slippers, pumps or other items around the house runs high, it's definitely not cute when Fifi sees the resemblance and decides to chew on the real thing. Some dogs enjoy cuddling up with a stuffed toy, but beware of those bearing a striking resemblance to your kids’ toys, as your pup may naturally think they are OK to use as he sees fit. Likewise, avoid toys made of leather, wood, upholstery fabric or other materials in your house you don't want your dog to chew on.

    Brightly colored dog toys, treats and chews are designed to look more attractive to humans, not dogs. Dogs are satisfied with toys that take care of their need to chew, tug or chase, and they don't care how they look. Dyed toys and chews that look so cute on the pet store shelf aren't as attractive if their colors rub off on carpets, drapes or your dog's fur once they become soaked in your dog's saliva. Make sure dyed items are non-toxic to prevent skin irritation or gastric upset if your dog chews or licks the toy.

    Rope toys are ideal for fetch in the house or tug-of-war games, but you should never allow your dog to chew on them. Although 95 percent of non-food items swallowed by a dog passes through his short digestive tract without incident, shreds from rope toys -- or other toys with ribbons or strings -- can become partially stuck in the stomach while the rest of it attempts to move through the intestines, resulting in lacerations or intestines being drawn up into a painful ball.

    Make sure toys are the proper size for your dog. Items that are too small sometimes cause choking and are sometimes too big to pass through your dog's digestive system if swallowed. Gentle dogs may enjoy plush toys, but other dogs become obsessed with extricating stuffing and squeakers. Beware of rawhide toys or other materials that become soft when chewed, as pieces may come off that get stuck in your dog's throat.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Jodi Thornton O'Connell has been an outdoorswoman for more than 45 years. She shares her love of adventure in columns for "Out-and-About Magazine," "Adam’s Rib," "Senior Christian Lifestyles," "Creede Magazine" and various websites.

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