Dangers of Rawhide Dog Chew Toy
How to Avoid Dangerous Dog Toys
There are countless dog toys on the market, but, just because you see a toy in your local pet supply store, doesn’t mean that it’s safe! While some pet toy manufacturers follow the legal safety standards required for infants, most countries do not demand them to follow any regulations whatsoever.This lack of regulation means that many toys widely available for purchase can be harmful to your precious pet, and it's up to you to figure out which ones to avoid and why.
Finding the Right Toys
Check the label.You can avoid a lot of hazardous toys by checking the label for important information. The best toys to purchase are those identified and certified as safe for children under three years old, as this means the toy has been tested for toxicity and doesn’t contain any easily detachable parts which can be swallowed easily.
- It’s also a good idea to look for the national origin of the toy. Toys made in North America or Europe are more likely to meet general safety standards than those imported in bulk from China or Mexico.
Avoid lead-laced toys.While most American-made toys contain only negligible quantities of lead, some imported products have been found to contain over 100 times the amount of lead which is considered safe for ingestion. The toys most likely to carry such elevated levels are those coated in lead paint, so if you must purchase an imported toy, you should avoid those that are painted.
- If you’re suspicious of a toy you already own, you can purchase a home-testing kit to make sure it’s safe.
- Lead poisoning is characterized by symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite, and tremors.If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, take it to the vet and have them check for dangerous lead levels.
Beware of tennis balls.While tennis balls can be a great, affordable way to keep your dog active and engaged, be aware that they can also present a significant safety hazard. Not only can large dogs accidentally swallow or choke on the ball, but studies have found significant levels of lead in them, particularly in those balls labeled as dog toys and not intended specifically for sporting use.
- You can keep tennis balls in your dog’s life by taking some basic safety measures. Buy tennis balls in the sport section of the store rather than the pet section, and discard any ball as soon as it shows signs of tearing.
Purchase hard rubber toys.Tug toys, fake chewing bones, and hollow toys made to fill with peanut butter or other treats are frequently made with safe, long-lasting rubber, so they’re always a good option for your pet.
- Tug-of-war can be a good way to exercise your dog and keep it playful, while hollow, treat delivery toys are good toys to keep your dog engaged in a healthy activity while distracting them from destructive behaviors like chewing furniture or paw-licking.
Stay away from toys intended for children.Plush toys made for children often have small, hazardous parts like doll eyes, noses, and long threads or ribbons which your dog can choke on or ingest.Avoid potential health problems from these toys by shopping exclusively in pet stores and removing any hazardous features like tags, squeakers, or buttons.
- Plastic toys for children are also unsafe for dogs. Dogs have sharp teeth which can break and cause bleeding and damage to its teeth and gums, or a dog can swallow or suffocate on a broken plastic toy.
- Additionally, a harmful chemical compound called DINP has been found in soft plastic toys, so opt for natural latex or rubber over plastic if you’re in the market for a chew toy.
Inspect stuffed toys manually.Even if you’ve avoided hazardous children’s plush toys and purchased what looks like a good-quality, dog-specific stuffed toy, you should still inspect the toy for defects or other issues. This is because some manufacturing mistakes are inevitable, so things like long sewing needles and other dangerous objects have been found concealed within chew toys.
- You can perform this manual inspection by feeling and squeezing around the toy before giving it to your dog. Any big or sharp foreign objects should become apparent if you probe carefully.
Check with your vet about rawhide.Dogs love rawhide bones, but you should seek expert advice before purchasing any for your dog. Imported and flavored varieties are bound to contain many more chemical additives and processing chemicals, and some bones are small enough to present a choking hazard to your dog.Avoid choosing the wrong rawhide by asking your vet which size and type of bone is appropriate for your dog, and see if they have any specific recommendations.
- Chewing on rawhide can also be a good way for your dog to clean its teeth naturally, so consider opting for a safe rawhide bone if you’re worried about your dog’s dental health.
- Imported rawhide is often a product of the international fur trade, so, if you’re anti-fur and animal cruelty, pay extra attention to the label next time you’re shopping for rawhide.
Keep your dog away from hazardous items in the home.Just because something is not intended to be a toy, doesn't mean your dog won't want to use it as such! Take some time to dog-proof your home by putting away any tempting items such as ribbons, rubber bands, and shoelaces which could be dangerous to your dog.
- Also remember to keep human food and medications stored safely out of reach. Your dog won't necessarily want to play with these items, but it could get curious and try to eat them. If your dog is super nosy and crafty about getting to forbidden items, install locks on cabinets or buy some locking, pet-proof food bins to keep canine snouts out.
Keeping Toys in Good Condition
Know your dog’s habits.Different dogs approach toys and chewing in different ways: while some immediately try to ‘disembowel’ a toy and rip it open, others prefer to mouth it peacefully and carry it around, and still others like to tear it into pieces while consuming the dislodged pieces.It’s important to know what kind of a chewer your dog is, because it will tell you which toys are appropriate for your dog and how long or when you can let it play. So take some time to observe your dog when you give him different chew toys and see what it does.
- If your dog likes to rip into toys and pull out the stuffing, be sure not to give it toys that have a squeaker inside. Your dog will find the squeaker and potentially choke on it.
Supervise your dog when chewing rawhide or tennis balls.Since rawhide and tennis balls can be easily damaged, you should only give them to your pet when you can be around to supervise.This is particularly important if you have a big dog, as their particularly large jaws and throats make them more susceptible to swallowing and choking on toys.
- Be particularly wary of any new toys you’ve brought into the house. Even if you’ve inspected them for defects or problematic features, be sure not to leave your dog unattended with the new toy until you’ve witnessed how it works and what your dog does with it.
Get rid of damaged toys.Some wear-and-tear to your dog’s toys is inevitable, so make sure you keep track of the condition of household toys and that you throw them away when any structural damage becomes visible.If your dog resists when you try to take the worn toy away, try to distract it with a new toy or a treat.
- Keep an eye on any rawhide bones your dog has been working on and throw them away when it gets short enough to swallow whole.
Rotate different toys.You can keep your dog’s toys in good condition by putting them in a rotation: give your dog a few toys to play with for a few days or a week, and then put these toys away and substitute them for a few different toys which you’ve been keeping stored out of sight.
- Try to keep a mix of toy types in each rotation. For example, have one soft toy, one interactive toy, one chew toy, and one distracting, food delivery toy available at the same time.
Clean toys regularly.Rubber, latex, nylon, stuffed, and rope toys can all be cleaned fairly easily, and you should do so fairy often in order to avoid the build-up of harmful bacteria.Just remember that rawhide bones cannot be cleaned, so make sure you don’t keep them too long.
- You can pop nylon and rubber toys in the dishwasher, while stuffed toys can be tossed in the laundry machine and rope toys rinsed and put in the microwave. Just be sure not to use any harsh or fragrant detergents which could irritate your dog’s skin or gums.
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