How to Choose Safe Pet Toys for Your Cat or Dog

How to Choose Safe Pet Toys for Your Cat or Dog

Pet toys are supposed to be fun, not dangerous. Unfortunately, pet toys (even those found in reputable pet stores) can cause dangerous situations for pets. Read on to learn what to avoid and what to look for in a safe pet toy.

8 Common Pet Toy Hazards

To choose safe pet toys, be aware of the potential hazards. The following pet toy features can be dangerous for pets.

1. Buttons, Eyes, Feathers, and Bells

These features might look cute, but pets easily remove and swallow them. They’re a choking hazard and can also cause intestinal blockages or perforations.

2. String Toys, Ribbons, and Yarn

Despite the photographic evidence, these are not safe for pets. They all carry a risk of strangulation and of intestinal blockage if swallowed. In addition, these objects can get wrapped around teeth and cause gum and tooth problems.

3. Stuffing

Avoid toys that contain stuffing (polystyrene beads, cotton batting, foam, or nutshells). Ingesting these can lead to intestinal blockages. You’ll find plenty of stuffing-free pet toys available.

4. Squeakers

Pets frequently tear open toys and swallow squeaker capsules. If you purchase a toy with a squeaker, make sure it’s very tough and watch your pet carefully to make sure they do not tear it open.

5. Batteries

Never give a pet a battery-operated toy. Ingestion of batteries can be life-threatening

6. Splinters

Avoid toys made of hard plastic or wood, as these materials can splinter easily. These splinters can get caught in between teeth, under the tongue and even penetrate through the gums. If swallowed, these splinters can result in a perforated intestine

7. Chemicals

Toys with a strong chemical smell or aromatherapy might pose a chemical risk to your pet. These toys could irritate or harm a pet’s eyes, nose and gastrointestinal tract.

8. Rawhides

Although these have been popular choices for chew toys, rawhides can actually be quite dangerous. They put your pet at risk of choking and suffering from dangerous intestinal blockages if swallowed.

9. Antlers, Hoofs or Other Animal Bones

These hard objects lead to many broken teeth which can be quite painful, and could also lead to tooth root infections which often requires surgical removal of the tooth.

Tips for Choosing a Safe Pet Toy

  • Go Tougher Than Necessary – Choosing hard to rip/tear toys will ensure your pet can’t destroy them and swallow the pieces.
  • Consider Your Pet’s Size – Choose toys that are appropriate for your pet’s size.
  • Look for Activities Other Than Chewing – Puzzle games or noise-making (squeaker-free) toys provide stimulation that discourages chewing.
  • VOHC-Approval – If you’re looking for a product to help your dog’s teeth, look for approved products from the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

When in Doubt, Ask an Expert

If you’re not sure what toys are safest for your dog or cat, we always welcome you to talk with a veterinarian at Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital. We can help you select the most appropriate toys for your pet based on species, size, and age.