Dog and Cat Toys: How to Pick the Best and Safest (Pt. 2 of 2)
Recommended Types of Dog Toys
Very hard toys made from nylon, polymers, and hard rubber compounds, such as Nylabone and Kong type products are fun for chewing and for carrying around. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and some are flavored too. Rope toys are usually available in a “bone” shape with knotted ends. These can also help to clean teeth, but if they become frayed significantly or develop long loose strings, you’ll have to remove them or discard the toy. String ingestion is a risk for intestinal obstruction. Tennis balls have traditionally been used as a great dog toy. Some tennis balls designed for asphalt courts have VERY tough and abrasive covering that has been known to wear down dog’s teeth, so I would look for similar tennis ball-like dog toys that are safer. On the topic of tooth health, be careful with chew toys made from natural antler or hooves which are very hard and can cause broken teeth. In some multi-dog households, any chew toys made from animal parts (hooves, antlers, tracheas, pig ears, bones, bully sticks, etc.) may increase tension between dogs due to natural instinctive food and resource garnering behaviors, so supervise at first.
Kong-type toys or similar “food puzzle” toys filled with broken treats, kibble, or a mixture of pieces and peanut butter can keep a puppy or adult dog busy for a long time, especially if frozen first. It’s also useful to distract dogs with separation anxiety when you leave for work. The “food puzzle” toys are designed only to dispense food or treat pieces when played with which can help to get a sedentary dog or cat moving again.
Soft stuffed toys are good for several purposes, but they aren’t appropriate for all dogs. Some dogs like to carry around soft toys, so for that dog, get one that fits their mouth size, but can’t be swallowed. For dogs whose goal is shake and “kill” their soft toys, choose one that is very well constructed from tough fabric that will withstand the dog’s attacks. Sweatshirts, blankets, and similar heavier cloth items can be very comforting to your pet, especially if it smells like you! Just be vigilant for wear and tear. Do not play tug with socks or any smaller size item that could be ingested.
How To Get The Most Out of Your Pet’s Toys
Rotate your pet’s toys weekly by making only a few toys available at a time. But if your pet has a favorite like a soft toy it likes to carry around, it’s ok to leave it out.
Provide toys that offer variety — one toy to carry, one to “kill”, one to roll, and one to “baby”.
Interactive play with you is important in providing active “people time” for them and greatly enhances the bond between you and your pet.
Hide and Seek is a fun game for dogs, cats, ferrets, and rabbits. ‘Found’ toys are often much more attractive than toys that are obviously introduced. This is a good rainy day activity that burns up energy without requiring a lot of space.
By repeatedly focusing on a specific task – like returning a ball, Kong, or Frisbee, or playing hide and seek can greatly reduce stress caused by confinement, isolation, and boredom.
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