What Toys Are Safe For Puppies?

Puppies need play time to develop their bodies and their minds — and play time is at its best when puppies have a favorite toy to play with.

There are many benefits with puppy toys:

  • They give puppies a fun project to focus on, as dogs are at their happiest when they have a project to do.
  • They keep they from being bored, which prevents destructive behavior, such as chewing your furniture!
  • Puppies use toys to ease gum pain as their puppy teeth fall out and new teeth come in.

Toys are beneficial to puppies in many ways — so long as they are safe.

This Border Collie puppy is enjoying the rubber chew!

So what toys are safe for your puppy, and how do you evaluate toys to ensure they are safe?

Characteristics of a Safe Toy

According to The American Kennel Club, there are many considerations when evaluating and choosing the best and safest toy for your puppy.

When evaluating puppy toys, always read the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure the toy is appropriate for your dog’s age and size, and that it’s been tested for safety.

Be sure to make these considerations as you evaluate toys:

  • The toys should be large enough, so that they cannot be swallowed or ingested.
  • Rigidity is an important factor. A toy should be able to withstand wear and tear without breaking apart — this was a big factor with my Labrador puppy, Thurber, who could tear through low-quality toys in a “Labosecond!”
  • However, the toy must be soft enough that it does not do any harm to your pup’s oral cavity.
  • Another important consideration is the material the toy is composed of. Toys should not be made of any material that is toxic or that may cause an allergic reaction — so be wary of inexpensive toys.  
  • Also, the materials used to make toys should be non-reactive to saliva and water.
  • Toys should have the right consistency, length and shape for them to be considered safe for puppies. According to VeterinaryPartner.com, the following toys are regarded as safe for puppies:
    • Hard nylon toys
    • Stiff rubber toys (the classic Kong product is one of Thurber’s favorites)
    • Vinyl or plastic toys
    • Food puzzle toys at an early age
Kong makes terrific, safe products for puppies!

Safe Toy Choices

Here are some safe toy choices, according to Petmate:

Hedgehog Ball – It is a ball with a textured surface like the spikes on a hedgehog. It is soft and puppies love to chew on it. It is made up of strong rubber and won’t rupture from the bite of a puppy. The spiky texture on the surface provides comfort to the puppy as it chews and licks on it.

Tough stick – Commercially made sticks are available in pet shops that are made with special materials. They are long enough so puppies can’t swallow them and have smooth ends. It may or may not be covered with a textured surface for added pleasure for the puppy.

Soft Cuddle Toy – It is made of cloth that the puppy can’t bite into. It is completely safe for puppies to have and play with. Some puppies like to always keep it with them even when they are going for a nap. Just make sure you regularly wash it to keep it germ-free and clean from dust and other materials.

Rubber Teether – It is a chew toy for small puppies who are teething. It is designed in such a way that puppies are not able to ingest it. It can stand the force of puppy teeth quite easily. It contains both smooth and a textured surface so the puppy can chew whichever surface it feels like.

Teething Ring – This is also a chew toy for puppies. It is a rubber ring that is formed in the shape of a donut or a large ring. Puppies can’t completely fit it in their mouth eliminating the risk of choking and impaction. It comprises both spiky and smooth surfaces to give peace of mind to the puppy.

Teething keys are loved by puppies!

Puppy Chains – These are large rubber chains molded by high pressure to withstand the force of the teeth of a puppy. These are entirely safe for puppies and they love playing with these chains. The puppy will move the chain from side to side while holding it between its teeth.

Puppy Key Ring Bone – It is an interesting puppy toy that is designed in the form of a key chain with keys in it. Puppies love to play with this toy because the keys make movements when a puppy runs or walks while holding them in the mouth. Each key has a textured surface for the puppy to chew on. The shape and size of the toy make it impossible for a puppy to ingest it.

Unsafe Puppy Toy Options

River Road Veterinary Clinic details the four most dangerous dog toys by type.

“From injuries to the tongue and teeth to gastrointestinal obstructions requiring major surgery, these types of toys can be hazardous to your dog’s health:”

Hollow Bones – These make for cheap toys for puppies, but they pose a great danger to puppies because puppies can easily break them with their biting force, resulting in the formation of sharp edges on the bone. These edges can cause bleeding and also lead to nasty wounds in the mouth.

Rubber Balls with Holes – The tongue and teeth of a puppy can get stuck in the holes present in a latex rubber ball. The hole in the ball can cause a vacuum formation and can stick in the mouth of the puppy and cause tissue damage.

Tiny Toys – Puppies can choke while playing with small toys. This condition can even be fatal for the puppy if no one is around. Keep such dangerous items away from the reach of your puppy or confine your pup to a neat and clean area when you are not around. Do not place small toys in your puppy’s crate while you are not there to monitor.

Rawhide – Rawhide can be an inexpensive alternative to a chew toy, but it is not safe for the health of your puppy. If it gets ingested, it tends to increase in size as it absorbs water. For this reason, rawhide can be difficult to digest and can cause constipation and impaction in your puppy’s stomach or intestines. 

Happy Playing!

Generally, dogs are not particular about toys. They will play with anything that looks interesting to them without thinking about its dangers.

Thurber will play with nearly anything, including sticks, rubber mulch, plastic bottles and a variety of other items that have hidden dangers.

We humans have to ensure the safety of puppy’s toys and also monitor them while they are playing to be sure they are not putting anything dangerous in their mouths.

Visit www.ThurbersTail.com for regular column updates, funny dog videos, well-researched articles explaining why our dogs do what they do, and Tom’s new book, “Tips from a New Dog Dad.” The Thurber’s Tail blog is managed by nationally syndicated humor columnist Tom Purcell and his beloved Labrador puppy, Thurber!

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