When choosing a toy for your fur baby, there are many different things to consider. You should not be fooled into thinking that every dog toy is suitable for your pet; regardless of who is marketing the product and the health benefits they suggest. Many dog toys are made from cheap material which can become dangerous once it starts to deteriorate. In this blog, we discuss the important things to take into consideration when choosing a toy for your particular pet.

You want the toy to be large enough 

Remember, your pet must not be able to swallow it whole! If a dog swallows a toy whole, it can become lodged where their oesophagus narrows, which commonly requires surgery to remove. Many dogs love to run and bound onto toys. You want to make sure that the toys are not small enough to become lodged in between their teeth on one side of their jaw to the other side. This means choosing toys significantly larger than the width of their jaw. 

If the toy has any dangly parts, rope strings or sticky out sections, you should regularly check the toy to make sure they are not becoming loose. These sections could be lethal if they fall off as they commonly cause intestinal intussusceptions if consumed. This is where the intestine scrunches up around the object.

Choose toys made from materials that are extremely sturdy

Not only will these toys last much longer, but they will also be harder to smash or break, helping to reduce the risk of health issues. Smashed up toys can be dangerous and dogs are very likely to swallow small sections of toys. These can cause blockages in different parts in the stomach and intestine. Unfortunately, these situations  sometimes need surgery in order to remove the foreign item which may involve a long recovery period. In addition to this, if your pet swallows a small amount of broken toy, this may irritate their throat; especially if it stimulates a continuous cough or regurgitation. 

Toy breed dogs often have very small, delicate throats so we should be careful that our pets do not damage them. Additionally, broken toys can become sharp. Sharp objects commonly cause lesions in the pads of dogs’ feet as pets stand on them. These can be very painful and commonly become infected, sometimes leading to bone infections requiring antibiotics to cure them. 

Hard chew toys can be great for knocking small patches of plaque from your dog’s teeth so may be worth purchasing. It takes 5 days for plaque (the white substance on the surface of a tooth) to convert into tartar (the solid, hard, discolouration on the tooth). When dogs rub their teeth on objects and sink their teeth into hard material, this has the action of cleaning their teeth by dislodging the plaque from the surface of the tooth and therefore preventing the conversion into tartar. 

Avoid toys which use laser pointers 

Laser pointers can be a great way to get your dog moving around in a small area of space. However, they are often very frustrating for the dog when they are not able to physically catch the laser and there is no ‘end point’ to the game. It can cause aggression and lead to a dog associating playing with an underwhelming feeling.

Think about buying a variety of toys

This will help to prevent your pet from becoming bored. You should choose toys that will be played with in different ways e.g. a ball to be used for cardiovascular fitness in a large open space, compared to a plastic pull toy which could safely be used to challenge their jaw strength in an indoors environment. 

Think about food-based enrichment

For example, a Kong can be good for encouraging your pet to eat slowly. This can help to keep your pet entertained for a longer period of time. This can also help to prevent regurgitation which commonly occurs when pets eat their food too quickly. 

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Remember, you don’t only need toys to entertain your pets, music can be used as entertainment too. A recent study showed that pets were more relaxed when listening to classical music! Alternatively, the radio can help pets to feel like they are in company especially if they are alone for periods of time. 

To conclude, there are many different suitable toys that you can use with your toy breed dogs but you should think about their current condition and the environment in which the toys are being used, in order to select the most appropriate to… As well as what your dog specifically likes playing with best!

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