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Dog toys have a reputation for not lasting long in our house. The softer the toy, the shorter their lifespan. Rubber balls get plucked into tiny little pieces within days, and anything with a squeaker gets destroyed until it squeaks no more. Add anything ‘stuffed’ to the mix, and it doesn’t stand a chance…
Not long ago, we found some dog toys for $2.99 at a local home improvement store and decided to pick a couple up. We got one ‘stuffless’ plush toy, and one ‘monster’ with minimal stuffing with a tug rope inside of it. Wouldn’t you know, both of our doggies decided they wanted the one with the rope in it, trying to steal it from the other one back and forth. They would carry that toy around all night, and Sweetie would protect it like it was her child. It didn’t take long, though, for them to fight for it. Within a day, bits of white fluff was poking through the holes that they had created.
Because they were inexpensive, and our doggies are spoiled, I made another trip to the store to get a few more of the monster toys. That way, both of them could have their own and we would have a backup. Brownie continued to tear her monster apart, while Sweetie licked and snuggled her’s.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, and they were on their third toy. We gave it to them to let them play with and went about our morning. Periodically, we would check on them to make sure they weren’t getting into trouble. What we found was not what we expected.
Our game room (the doggies playroom) looked like a cotton grenade had exploded. Bits of fluff were everywhere, and Brownie and Sweetie were still playing a game of tug with what remained of their green monster. The rope that was once inside of it was lying amongst the fluff.
Safe Dog Play
We do monitor our dogs play to make sure that they are safe and not ingesting anything that could be potentially harmful. When something gets too small or scrappy, we throw it out and give them something new. Of course, we pick up all of the cotton pieces too before they decide to see if they can turn it into a snack.
When it comes to safe dog play, I came across some tips on The Humane Society of the United States website. I am not an expert, but these are some dog play safety tips that we frequently go by. This is to ensure that our fur-babies are kept out of potential danger:
- Be sure to buy toys of appropriate size for your dog. Toys that are too small can easily be swallowed or become lodged in your dog’s throat.
- Supervise your dog’s play with squeaky toys: your dog may feel that they must find and destroy the source of the squeaking, which means they could ingest it if left unwatched.
- Avoid or alter any toys that aren’t “dog-proof” by removing ribbons, strings, eyes or other parts that can be chewed off and/or ingested. Discard toys that start to break into pieces or are torn. Check labels on stuffed toys to see that they are labeled as safe for children under three years of age and that they don’t contain any dangerous fillings. Problem fillings include nutshells and polystyrene beads, but even “safe” stuffings aren’t truly digestible. Remember that soft toys are not indestructible, but some are sturdier than others. Soft toys should be machine washable.
- If you’re thinking about giving your dog rawhide chew toys, be sure to check with your veterinarian about which ones are safe and appropriate for your dog. These toys may pose choking hazards, so give them to your dog only when you can supervise them. Many rawhides are byproducts of the cruel international fur trade. For a humane alternative, consider toys made of very hard rubber, which are safer and last longer.
Durable Dog Toys
If you are unsure about what toys would be good to get your dog, the website also has some tips and recommendations for that area as well:
- Hard rubber toys such as Nylabone® and Kong®-type products come in many shapes and sizes. They are great for lots chewing and carrying around. For dogs that like tug-of-war and chewing on anything new or intriguing to them, rope and woven toys are usually available in a “bone” shape with knotted ends.
- Kong®-type toys, especially when filled with broken-up treats*, can keep a puppy or dog busy for hours. Dogs also love peanut butter. If your veterinarian says your dog can eat peanut butter, add some to the inside of a hollowed toy. Your pup will get lots of enjoyment out of licking out the tasty treat.
- Soft stuffed toys are good for several purposes. Be sure you are getting the right one for your dog based on your dog’s size. Here are a few tips for choosing the right stuffed toy:
- Some dogs like to carry around soft toys, so pick one that’s small enough
- Some dogs want to shake or “kill” their toys. Choose ones that are large enough to prevent accidental swallowing and/ or choking. They should be sturdy enough to withstand the dog’s rough play.
Fun for Life
While the stuffed monster that we gave to Brownie and Sweetie didn’t last long, they continue to get hours of enjoyment from the rope that they pulled out of it. In the meantime, they have a dozen other toys to keep them entertained that have lasted them weeks, if not months. We always have several Nylabones and Kong toys around because they are durable and last for a while. And there is always the pet store right down the road for when those are no longer in ‘playing’ condition either.
Below are some of our favorite durable dog toys for our girls.