Let’s face it, dogs chew. Some are hearty chewers, some are delicate chewers, and some set out to destroy everything they can get their jaws on. Advertisements for completely indestructible dog toys abound. But is it true? Is there really any such thing as an indestructible dog toy?
The fact is, whether a toy is indestructible depends on the dog. Size is not necessarily a predictor of chew drive and strength. Likewise, an indestructible toy for one dog is another dog’s 5-minute mincemeat pie. But the next fact is, dogs need to chew. It is necessary for their mental and physical health. And the third fact: there are so many options available, and so many pluses and minuses for many of these options, how do you choose? The short answer is – you talk with your vet and pick out the safest chew toys for YOUR dog.
Chewing Modes and Manners
It’s all about what’s best for your dog and his way of chewing. For the sake of simplicity, consider the following:
- Your dog gobbles and quickly swallows (inhales) edible (and non) toys.
- Your dog is the original bulldozer, demolishing every toy (and more) he can get his jaws around. Unfortunately, some of his handiwork may end up being swallowed, possibly leading to major intestinal problems.
- Your dog is the delicate, gentle soul who slowly savors every soothing bite
Where to Begin?
Now that you have an idea of what kind of chewer your dog is, you can better select the toys that will be totally indestructible for HIM. Most dogs are somewhere in the middle. The stuffed toys may be eviscerated quickly by them, but the harder bone and rubber toys should survive well. With the demolisher, plan on a much higher toy budget as well as your time to keep a close eye on him when he’s in full demolish mode. Your delicate chewer will keep your toy budget well intact.
If you have, or have ever had, a puppy, you know that they are chewing machines. They chew everything and anything they can get their paws on. Besides a basic mental need, the fact is – they are teething and their gums hurt! As a puppy person, you also know that those little teeth of theirs are sharp! They, therefore, need strong, durable toys to withstand the constant chewing. They also need you to keep a close eye on the toys to change them when they become chewed to the point of potential danger.
Senior dogs have special chewing needs, too. Their teeth are probably worn, and their jaws may be stiff, so they need something that has some give to it.
Chew Toy Types and Styles
What’s safe for one dog might be a major hazard for another. Here is a breakdown of what chew toys would work for what type of chewer.
If your dog gobbles:
- Rubber toys
- Stuffed toys
If your dog bulldozes:
- Rubber toys
- Edible chews
If your dog is the delicate chewer:
- Rubber toys
- Stuffed toys
- Edible chews
Now that you have a general idea of what toy would be most indestructible for your dog, here are the finer points in evaluating and finding safe, quality toys.
Believe it or not, hard can be too hard. A toy that doesn’t give or that you can’t bend can break teeth.
If a toy is too soft, your dog may be able to break off and swallow pieces when he chews it.
Think choking hazard for small toys or toys that can break apart.
Toys need to be cleaned and sanitized regularly, so any toy you purchase should be washable.
Could your dog’s tongues get caught in the toy? Or could the toy get stuck in the back of his mouth? If you have a question, avoid the toy.
Besides observing how your dog behaves with a toy, there are other signs that can indicate a problem. Unfortunately, these signs may be difficult to correlate to the toy directly, but when in doubt, take it away and see if things improve. These include:
- Obvious indication that his mouth may hurt, such as blood in his food and avoiding hard food and treats.
- Intestinal upset
- Decrease in his usual energy level
Toys to be Wary Of
Indeed, some toys have been around for a long time that can be unsafe for dogs. Some of these include the following.
Believe it or not, the proverbial tennis ball is not as innocent as it appears. It works well enough as a throw toy for a backyard game of catch with your dog but avoid letting him chew it as it breaks up into very swallowable pieces.
Some rawhide toys are safe, while others are downright hazardous. Your vet can give you advice on which brands would be safe for your dog.
Some toys come with a squeaking device that delights some dogs but elevates the prey instincts in others who want to kill, kill, kill. These devices can be chewed out easily, and of course, swallowed by some rigorous chewers.
Most dogs lose their mind when handed a bully stick, and most owners welcome the quiet time afforded by a chewing dog. For the most part, bully sticks can be okay, but the possibility of choking or intestinal obstruction exists. In other words, watch your dog carefully if he’s chewing his way to bliss. Also, watch him for intestinal upset as bully sticks are rich in calories.
Antlers and Bones
These are both heavenly treats for dogs, but their hardness can damage their mouth and teeth.
The bottom line is that indestructibility in toys depends entirely on the dog. There is probably no such thing for some dogs, but for others, most toys are indestructible. The key to keeping your dog safely and happily chewing is recognizing his chewing style and buying the toys that will work best for him.
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