For so many of us, dogs are not just pets, they are family members. And unlike the obscure, offensive uncle, we are willing to do (and spend) copious amounts to make sure our pets are healthy, safe and happy.
In honor of National Pet Month, TD Ameritrade conducted a survey that found that on average, dog owners spend $1,285 a year on their dog and are more likely to put their dog’s health care costs above their own. And that’s just for single pet owners... imagine the rising costs for those with more than one dog!
Because pet ownership can become very expensive, we totally get it if you’re tempted to allow your dog to chew on his favorite toys until they’re completely destroyed and totally unrecognizable. You know the scene: plastic squeaker here - shredded fluff there - shards of plastic everywhere, and a guilty looking pooch licking his lips among the wreckage.
Well friends, it’s all fun and games until someone (or some dog) chokes.
Dog Toy Preservation Tactics: Supervise, Stock & Replace
Categorically, dog toys are not necessarily dangerous. But, an unsupervised dog with an easy-to-destroy toy can be.
For example, soft squeaky dog toys that have been ripped apart, to expose the plastic squeaker and stuffing can present a choking hazard to your pet. It’s true, dogs L-O-V-E to root out this noisemaker and dominate it once and for all, but if they are not closely supervised, that squeaker can go right down their eager gullet and possibly get lodged in their airway. In fact, all it takes are a few seconds for an innocent shred-fest to become an emergency vet visit.
Dog toy stuffing doesn’t seem like it’d be tempting material for your dog to ingest, but since dogs explore with their mouths (a lot like a two-year-old child), most things that interest her will go directly into her mouth, and swallowing a wad of fluff can occur both on purpose and unintentionally. Either way, surgery will be necessary if she swallows too much stuffing because if the fluff is lumped together, it can cause an intestinal blockage, or if the stringy fibers split apart, they can wrap around and strangle intestines.
Both of these outcomes are terrible for your dog and require very quick work by the vet, so timing is everything. As we all know, any emergency surgery is costly and comes with big risks.
The good news is, all of this is 100% avoidable if you keep an eye on your dog’s toys, especially when they are actively chewing them, and never let toys get too ragged.
While it may be tough to have your pup part with his first favorite stuffed toy, the dangers of these worn out toys can pose a real threat to your dog’s safety.
Instead of hanging on to toys that your dog especially loves, stock up on replacements of the adored items. Or, if you find a specific item that your dog goes crazy over, head back to the store as soon as you can and grab a bunch so that you have replacements on hand when they are needed.
Better yet, opt for products like the Bully Buddy that don’t break or rip easily, and always keep your dog’s size and chew strength in mind. A small dog might be a fierce shredder and a big dog could be a gentle nuzzler, so know your dog’s habits and pick toys that won’t “die” easily!
While worn soft toys present a problem and need frequent replacing, any toy that has begun to fray or split apart is a hazard for your pet and needs to be removed or replaced. Chew toys that have developed sharp edges are of utmost concern because they can cut your dog’s mouth or even cause internal bleeding if swallowed.
For those of you with a dog who loves to chew on children’s stuffed animals, please beware of a hidden hazard: fire retardant! One of the biggest problems with allowing your dog to chew on, or mouth children’s stuffies is that they are required by law to be treated with fire retardants. These chemicals are toxic to your dog and can cause serious damage to your dog’s internal organs if too much of the chemical is ingested. Even the most skilled veterinarian may not be able to remove this dangerous substance before it kills your pet. Yikes. Please replace any kid toys with dog toys that are built with dogs in mind.
Supervising, stocking and replacing dog toys for your pet can add up both time and money. Save yourself some hard-earned cash by buying high-quality, hard-to-destroy products to begin with, supervising your dog so you can save a toy before it’s too late and reducing the number of items you give your dog at once. Dogs don't need dozens of play things, just a few favorites at a time should do the trick.
Why Dogs Love to Chew + How to Encourage Good Chewing Behavior
Can Bully Sticks Make My Dog Sick? Understanding the Health Benefits and Risks of Bully Sticks
What to Do If Your Dog is Choking - How to Recognize the Signs and Perform the Heimlich Maneuver