Toy Joy

Happy girl playing with her dog at home

Pets love to play and it’s up to us to keep them safe

Now that the holidays are over, make sure that all those toys your pet happily received over the holidays are both safe and fun. For dogs, make sure that the toy has no parts that will come off and be swallowed. Squeaky toys are fun until your small dog finds the source of the squeak and swallows it. Cats can get in trouble, too. I once removed the plastic head of a mouse toy from a cat’s small intestine – not fun for me or the cat.

Dogs love rawhide bones, and dogs that chew rawhide invariably have great teeth as the chewing really helps them. As a veterinarian, I have never had to remove a piece of rawhide from a dog’s intestine. But I have often wondered whether some of my patients have felt discomfort after swallowing a big piece of rawhide as it slowly dissolves in its passage through the small intestine. My advice to owners is to have their dogs chew responsibly and not swallow big chunks. Hard rubber toys on the market like Kong and Nylabone are reasonably safe, and the ones that you can add a layer of peanut butter to are loads of fun.

Soft toys can be the most dangerous for pets. Dogs have an uncanny ability to swallow quite large objects whole. And soft teddy bear-like toys can end up getting pushed down the small intestine and then wedged in there, requiring surgery. I have never ceased to be amazed at what a dog can swallow.

Above all, make sure that the toys that require supervision are kept away from your pet when you are out of the house. Leave them a safe hard rubber one to gnaw on until you get home again.

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