Tuesday, April 5, 2016

10 Safety Tips For Dog Toys

10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)

If you ever were scolded for getting into your mother's makeup, or giving your father's best suit a new, arguably more fashionable, design a-la-Crayola, you likely didn't understand why your parents were being so mean at the time. After all, why do all the adults get to have all the fun? Being a pet parent is very much like being a human parent, only fur-children seldom ever grow up, never move out, and will always require you to clean up their poop. Fur children come in all shapes and sizes, but all require their own defined selection of toys. Not just for the safety of your Italian loafers, but for their safety as well.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
Our morkie (maltese+yorkie) Nora recently turned 3. We have high hopes she will one day go off to doggie college, earn an exceptional income, and care for us in our old age. Until then we've done our very best to provide her with the best in home training. Much like one would couch their daughter on proper handwriting, I've raised her around cameras and people, with exceptional control and obedience.

She is 'spot trained,' which means she understands surface boundaries and will not leave a dog bed/rug/chair/blanket's surface if set directly down on it. She also knows not to chew on anything with a tag. Yes, even dog toys. Something I find especially important for her safety, as tags, and their attaching devices, can be a serious choking hazard for small dogs. In exchange, she is provided hours of attention each day, walks on the beach, her own personal cat (every dog needs an arch nemesis) and countless accessories and toys.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
But today I'd like to discuss some basic tips for choosing the right toys for your canine children, and basic care and upkeep for ensuring those toys are always at their safest. After all, dog toys are designed to be torn up and chewed, of course, which means you should always be aware of their condition and materials, even long after introducing them to your dog!

Tip #1: Remove all tags before giving a toy to your dog. This includes 't-shirt' style tags that are generally made of nylon or cloth and loop out from a toy's base. Paper tags, in particular are often attached with small plastic tabs that pose a serious choking hazard if lodged in a small animal's windpipe. Because Nora has been involved in pet photography since she was a puppy, we also trained her to 'leave it' if she comes across a dog toy with a tag still on. This is the same basic training concept as requiring a dog to ignore their food until given verbal or visual permission.

Sometimes fluffy toys, like the critters featured here, will have a small plastic hanging tab that is used to display products in store. Thoroughly inspect all toys for additional packaging before giving them to your pup.
Tip #2: Avoid toys that resemble people items. As cute as it may be to give your dog a toy designed to look like a human slipper, it's not cute to find your favorite pair of bath slippers torn up upon arriving home. Teaching pets to chew on objects that look like 'no-no' objects is a bad idea all around, and poses a serious safety threat to your dog.

Tip #3: Inspect toys for small parts. Don't assume, just because something is marketed as a dog toy, your dog's toys are safe for them to play with. Toys are often given to dogs with the intention of being chewed up. You know your dog's strength and play style more than anyone, exercise judgement when picking out the right toys for your pet.

Tip #4: Consider your dog's size when selecting the right toy. While a 150lb German shepherd might play with a toy designed for a 5lb yorkie, it should not be considered safe. Dog toys are designed for breeds and weights for a reason- read labels for suggested weight and size limits before giving your dog any toys.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. Seen here is Checkers the Rooster. (sp)
Tip #5:  Limit available toys when you are not around to physically watch your dog. In general, pick up all toys with squeakers, fabric, or dangling parts, and store them when you leave the house. Even consumable bones can pose a risk as a chewing toy, and turn into a choking hazard, when you are not there to keep an eye on your dog. Never leave your dog home alone without toys, as that could turn into an unfortunate incident with human toys, or furniture- but do choose the safest, sturdiest, toys for alone playtime.

Tip #6: If the stuffing of a toy becomes exposed, remove the toy from the dog's playthings immediately. While sewing a toy up may be a fine temporary fix, even the best seam repairs will end up ripping again. Don't be fooled, even a tiny amount of batting or stuffing can cause slow blockages inside your dog. A torn toy, without stuffing, can be just as enjoyable as one with stuffing. And always remember to remove the squeaker as soon as a toy is torn.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
Tip #7: Clean your dog's toys. While it sounds like common sense, many pet owners do not launder their dog's toys. Since toys spend the majority of time in your dog's mouth, then all over your home, it's suggested that you clean your pet's toys at least once a week. For a natural cleaning solution use 1 part water to 1 part vinegar. Toys can be placed in a gallon sized bag and soaked in this solution, then rinsed and air or machine dried.

Tip #8: Check child safety warnings. You may not know but most pet toys contain safety warnings for children. If a dog's plush toy doesn't say it's safe for children under 3 years, it probably poses a larger risk for your pet. At the same time, you should always observe the above safety practices with dog toys, regardless of child safety advisories.

Tip #9: Consider hard rubber toys, such as Kong or JJ Pet brands, instead of raw hide chews. Not only do rawhide based toys and chews pose a choking hazard, they can also have extended long term effects on your pet. Consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog rawhide chews.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
 Tip #10: Play WITH your dog. The best way to ensure your pets are safe is to spend time playing with them. This naturally allows you to familiarize yourself with your dog's play habits, and the toys they prefer most. It also keeps you aware of the status of your pet's toys, and any condition or safety issues that may be developing through extended use. Not that you needed an excuse to play with your pup!

Naturally, most of these tips are good to follow for human children as well; you can never be too safe when handing things over to loved ones for play. Nora's rooster has become one of her favorite snuggle and chew toys with it's playful long legs (perfect for tug-o-war) and tear resistant double lining. What's one of your dog's favorite toys?

For more great articles on pet safety check out some of my favorite pet blogs!