Dog toy safety tips

Holly McKinley - BVetMed GPCert(SAM) PGCertSAECC MRCVS

Holly McKinley, My Family Pet Vet and Clinical Director at Holly House Vets in Leeds, explains how to make sure your dog stays safe when playing with their toys

“Toys are great for dogs; they allow endless fun, both for the dog to keep themselves entertained and to bond the dog with their owner. They often allow dogs to mimic their innate, more primal behaviour. Sadly though, toys can sometimes prove dangerous in the hands – or to be accurate, the mouth – of the wrong dog; in some devastating cases, they can even prove fatal.

If you take the right measures, however, there is absolutely no reason for this to happen to your dog. It’s all a matter of matching the correct pooch with the correct toy, or at least the correct method of play!”

BorrowMyDoggy Labradoodle with a toy in their mouth
Doggy member Buddy

Rope toys & reminder that you know your dog best

One type of toy that has found itself beneath the spotlight recently is the rope toy. These come in many shapes and sizes but are similar in that they all consist mostly, if not entirely, of rope. The danger of this, of course, is that rope is a thick, hard material that also has the ability to unravel – meaning that dogs can swallow it. The rope can get stuck in the dog’s digestive system and if they swallow a lot of it, can cause serious (sometimes fatal) problems to their intestines or other digestive organs.

Now that’s not to say rope toys aren’t all bad all the time… it all depends on whether your dog is suited to them. If your dog loves a game of tug of war, for example, but isn’t much of a chewer, then they’re most likely fine. If they’re the opposite and like to spend their afternoons pulling toys to bits, it’s a good idea to avoid rope toys, or at least to confiscate them while your dog is not under your supervision.”

BorrowMyDoggy Bulldog puppy with ball in their mouth
Doggy member Stamford

A few tips

The tougher, the better - whether your dog is a big strong St Bernard or a tiny Jack Russel, the less chance they have of breaking their toy, the better.

Beware of spare parts – any toys that contain bells or squeakers, anything your dog could swallow by accident, are probably best avoided if you can.

Keep an eye out for rips/tears – If a stuffed fabric toy has a tear, I would always recommend disposing of it and getting a new one. As soon as the stuffing starts to come out, your dog is at risk of swallowing.

Does the toy fit your pet’s mouth? – Aim to choose toys that aren’t too big or small for your pet. A too-big toy could damage their jaw, whereas a toy that’s too small always risks being swallowed.

BorrowMyDoggy Cockapoo puppy on a teddy
Doggy member Darcy

If your dog swallows part of a toy?

If this happens, it’s important to contact your vet of out-of-hours provider as soon as possible – especially rope toys or anything sharp. The same goes for poisons or foreign bodies, anything your dog isn’t supposed to have eaten!”

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