There are many factors that contribute to the safety or danger of a toy. Many of those factors, however, are completely dependent upon your dog’s size, activity level and personal preference. Another factor to be considered is the environment in which your dog spends his time. Although we can’t guarantee your dog’s enthusiasm or his safety with any specific toy, we can offer the following guidelines.
The things that are usually the most attractive to dogs are often the very things that are the most dangerous. Dog-proof your home by checking for: string, ribbon, rubber bands, children’s toys, pantyhose and anything else that could be ingested.
Toys should be appropriate for your dog’s current size. Balls and other toys that are too small can easily be swallowed or become lodged in your dog’s mouth or throat.
Avoid or alter any toys that aren’t “dog-proof” by removing ribbons, strings, eyes or other parts that could be chewed and/or ingested. Avoid any toy that starts to break into pieces or have pieces torn off. You should also avoid “tug-of-war” toys, unless they’ll be used between dogs, not between people and dogs.
Ask your veterinarian about which rawhide toys are safe and which aren’t. Unless your veterinarian says otherwise, “chewies” like hooves, pig’s ears and rawhides, should be supervision-only goodies. Very hard rubber toys are safer and last longer.
Take note of any toy that contains a “squeaker” buried in its center. Your dog may feel that he must find and destroy the squeak-source and could ingest it, in which case squeaking objects should be “supervision only” toys.
Check labels for child safety, as a stuffed toy that’s labeled as safe for children under three years old doesn’t contain dangerous fillings. Problem fillings include things like nutshells and polystyrene beads, however, even a “safe” stuffing isn’t truly digestible.
Remember that soft toys are not indestructible, but some are sturdier than others. Soft toys should be machine washable.