There are so many doggie toys on the market these days that at times it’s easy to feel you’re buying for a new baby rather than a pampered puppy.
Some of these purchases can be both fun and stimulating for your latest arrival. Others, even some that we’ve come to associate with dogs, can be downright dangerous. Read on for your guide to the right kinds of toys to let your puppy play with.
Keeping Safe During Play with Puppy Toys
Puppy toys are a great way to make life at home less stressful and can offer plenty of age-appropriate relief to teething pets. Chew toys can keep your puppy active, engaged and out of trouble.
When deciding on the best puppy teething toys, be mindful of your puppy’s breed, age size and personality, as well as their tooth development stage.
Some toys carry higher risks than others. For example, hard toys risk fracturing teeth. Others like soft toys can cause problems such as gastrointestinal obstruction when ingested.
You should always supervise playtime for puppies in case they accidentally choke on something they shouldn’t have swallowed.
Your Guide to Teething Toys
Although baby teeth may start to erupt when puppies reach 4 weeks old, a puppy would not normally need teething toys at this age. Even as puppies get weaned off their mother’s milk, their tiny teeth can be sharp but are not usually very strong. These can be easily damaged if a puppy begins playing with a toy meant for an older dog.
As your puppy begins to grow up, It is important to select toys that will help to soothe the pain of teething.
Make sure that chew toys marketed for puppies really are right for the size and breed of your young dog. Remember that if you give a chew toy that’s too small for a larger dog, there’s a risk they will swallow it.
Some puppy chew rings and toys can go in the freezer with the cold sensation soothing sore gums. Others have raised nubs on their surfaces. These massage the gums as puppies chew.
Toys for Puppies Aged 6 Months or Older
Teething is usually over once your puppy gets to about 24 weeks of age. As their permanent teeth come in, your puppy should be less prone to chew on everyday household items.
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Depending on your puppy’s size and activity level, there is a wider variety of safe toy choices available. Here are some of the most popular:
- Flying discs or frisbees
- Rope toys
- Fetch toys such as balls
- Distraction toys that your dog can chew
- Comfort and plush toys that squeak (ideal for small breeds or light chewers)
As a general rule, the following kinds of toys are safest for puppies:
- Food puzzle toys for dogs aged around 2 months old
- Toys made from hard kinds of nylon
- Chew toys and balls made out of hard types of rubber
- Plastic or vinyl toys for light chewers
Action, Fetch, Rope and Soft Toys
Action toys are great for those puppies that can never seem to stay still. Fetch and rope toys can act as teething aids as well as satisfying an active dog’s need to play and chew.
Fetch toys are useful for making daily exercise more fun and for burning off extra puppy energy at the end of the day in the park.
It’s best to avoid tennis balls unless your puppy plays with them under your supervision. This is because they can split allowing the puppy to ingest the outer felt and rubber core. You might try a specially made ball launcher instead.
Rope toys can also be good for gentle tug-of-war games with your puppy. They can also satisfy their desire to chew. Play carefully to avoid the potential for injury or any encouragement for aggressive types of behavior.
Rope toys are best for older and larger breeds of puppies whose permanent teeth have erupted. Young puppies, especially those under 12 weeks, are more likely to sustain injuries to their teeth, jaws, and neck if you play tug-of-war too aggressively.
Avoid using rope toys that can fray and unravel. Once swallowed, the strands can create an obstruction in the intestine or stomach. Loose strands could also become tangled around the base of the tongue and cause injury.
Soft, plush toys are ideal for young puppies that have not developed their adult chewing potential. They’re best for small breeds or puppies that suffer from anxiety issues. Always ensure they are sewn well and have no dangling parts that a puppy could swallow.
Toys That You Should Avoid
Toys that some experts say are typically unsafe include:
- The hardest of hard toys
- Rawhide or pressed chews
- Long thin strips of anything from yarn to ribbon
- Toys stuffed with foam
- Pigs’ ears, dried cow hooves or antlers
- Toys with sharp metal parts like pins, springs or batteries
The risks of chewing these toys include choking or surgery to remove the toy or parts of it from the stomach. Some can also splinter and cause cuts and scrapes.
Say “NO” to Bones
Despite our long association of big juicy bones with happy dogs, you should never give one to your puppy. Most vets will tell you that they regularly see dogs with blockages or digestive tract damage as a result of splinters or bigger pieces of bone getting swallowed and stuck.
In some instances, the damage can be so serious that it can be fatal. In a similar way, if a puppy swallows a large piece of a rawhide chew, it can get stuck and lead to serious problems.
Other common injuries include:
- Fractured teeth or punctures to the oral cavity
- Perforation of the esophagus, stomach or intestine
- An intestinal obstruction if your puppy swallows a large portion
Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks With Your Puppy
The greatest risks to keep in mind are that hard toys risk breaking fragile primary adult teeth and soft toys can result in ingestion or even GI obstruction.
And, remember, no bones!
We’ve plenty more articles in our blog section that will help to keep your puppy happy and healthy. Do you still have any questions about toy safety and your new puppy? Then schedule a video consultation with one of our qualified vets!
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