Choosing Safe Dog Toys

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month. This is definitely a timely topic for us. Our furry patients will be getting a lot of new playthings in their stockings this month! However, while one would like to think that any products made for Fido are guaranteed to be safe, that just isn’t the case. A local vet offers some helpful tips on choosing safe toys below.


One of the issues with toy safety is the fact that many contain toxic chemicals and materials. In fact, one study by Consumer Affairs discovered heavy metals, such as lead and chromium, in many dog toys. Some dog toys also contain latex, which contains BPA. Check the labels, and opt for things made of natural materials. Rice husk and natural rubber are two good options. They are safe to ingest, though you’d still want to call your vet if Fido eats a lot of it.


Choosing toys that are the right size is also very important. A German Shepherd could choke on a plaything made for small breeds, while a Pomeranian could hurt themselves chewing on something that is made for a larger pooch. If you have a growing puppy, remember to toss out little Fido’s smaller toys as he grows.


We know, many pups love chewing on rawhide. It is important for Fido to have proper chew toys. However, rawhide toys can present serious choking risks. Hard rubber toys are generally going to be the safer option. If you do give your canine buddy rawhide, supervise him closely when he’s gnawing on it, and discard it when it starts getting worn. Ask your vet for more information.

Tennis Balls

It may be cute seeing Fido happily running after tennis balls, but be careful. These are extremely dangerous for large breeds, as they present potentially-fatal choking risks. Consider teaching your furry friend the commands to Leave It and Drop It. Even if you don’t give your pooch tennis balls at home, he could find one at the dog park!


You’ll also need to be careful of toys with holes in them. Because of the suction, your canine pal could potentially get his tongue stuck in them. Kong toys are quite safe, but again, you’ll need to pick the right size. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Our Advice on Choosing Safe Dog Toys in 2024

Why are some common dog toy materials unsafe?

Some common dog toy materials are unsafe due to the presence of toxic chemicals and heavy metals like lead and chromium, identified in studies by organizations such as Consumer Affairs. Additionally, materials like latex may contain BPA, posing health risks if ingested. These substances can be harmful to a dog’s health, leading to potential poisoning or long-term health issues. Choosing toys made from natural, non-toxic materials ensures safer play and ingestion, significantly reducing the risk of adverse health effects on your canine companion.

How does a dog’s size factor into safe toy choices?

A dog’s size significantly influences safe toy choices because toys that are too small can be a choking hazard for larger breeds, while toys designed for bigger dogs can be too hard or large for smaller breeds, risking dental damage or injury. Ensuring toys are appropriately sized for your dog prevents these risks, facilitating safer play. For growing puppies, it’s important to update their toys as they grow to maintain suitable toy size, keeping playtime both fun and safe. Always match the toy’s size and durability with your dog’s size and chewing habits.

Are internal squeakers in soft toys ever safe, or are they choking hazards if your dog tears the toy open?

Internal squeakers in soft toys can be safe under supervision but become choking hazards if your dog tears the toy open and accesses the squeaker. Dogs, especially vigorous chewers, may be tempted to chew and swallow the small squeaker, posing a risk of choking or intestinal blockage. To ensure safety, monitor your dog’s play with squeaky toys and choose durable toys designed to withstand rough play. Always remove any torn toys from your dog’s reach, and consider toys with safer, built-in noise-making mechanisms designed to be less detachable.

How do you know if a toy is durable enough for your dog’s chewing style?

To determine if a toy is durable enough for your dog’s chewing style, consider the toy’s material and construction. Look for toys made from hard rubber or durable, non-toxic nylon that are specifically designed for heavy chewers. Check the product description for guidance on chew strength and the size of the dog the toy is suited for. Observing your dog’s chewing behavior with various toys can also guide your choices. Toys that withstand prolonged chewing without breaking apart are typically suitable for dogs with aggressive chewing habits. Always monitor your dog with new toys to ensure safety.

Is the stuffing material in plush toys important?

Yes, the stuffing material in plush toys is important for your dog’s safety. Some stuffing materials, like small beads or certain types of foam, can be hazardous if ingested, potentially leading to intestinal blockage or choking. Opt for plush toys with safe, non-toxic stuffing or those made with minimal stuffing to reduce risks. Additionally, some toys are designed with a stuffing-free concept to offer the softness of plush toys without the danger of ingestion, making them a safer option for dogs who like to de-stuff their toys.

Do you have questions about dog toys? Contact us, your local animal clinic in Easley, SC today!

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