There are approximately ninety-trillion pet toys out there to choose from, give or take. Whether something on the pet aisle at the grocery store catches your eye or you’re buying a pet toy for a close friend’s special furball, knowing how to choose safe pet toys can save an animal’s life.
Conversely, knowing what not to choose is half the battle.
What Qualifies a Pet Toy as “Safe?”
The concept of safety is a little ambiguous and it means different things to different pet parents. What you think is perfectly fine might be horrifying to your neighbor. In general, if you don’t think your vet would approve, it’s probably not safe.
A “safe” pet toy is one your pet can be left alone with. You shouldn’t have to supervise your pet’s play non-stop to ensure they don’t inadvertently hurt themselves. A toy shouldn’t pose risk of accidental injury, puncture, choking, or ingestion of foreign objects.
What to Avoid When Choosing a Pet Toy
- Avoid toys with long strings or ribbons. If your pet swallows them, they can become wrapped around their intestines.
- Avoid toys with stuffing that could be harmful if swallowed, such as polystyrene beads, foam, or cotton batting.
- Don’t choose toys your pet can easily chew through, even if they’re not a chewer! Select more durable toys than you think you need.
- Don’t buy toys with parts that can easily be swallowed such as bells, plastic “eyeballs,” or pieces of plastic.
- Avoid toys that could splinter, like those made out of wood; the splinters can perforate your pet’s intestines.
- If a toy has a squeaker inside, be sure it’s very durable! Squeaker “bulbs” are one of the most commonly swallowed objects by pets.
- Never give a pet a toy that’s battery-operated. The batteries can be swallowed or cause chemical burns.
Choosing the Safest Pet Toy
- Select toys that are the appropriate size. The pet should not be able to get the entire toy in their mouth to avoid swallowing risk!
- Great toys are easily cleaned. Be sure a toy is machine washable or can be disinfected with wipes or spray to avoid contamination.
- Choose a toy that provides some stimulation other than chewing if possible, such as puzzle solving or noise-making.
- Most pet toys list a “Safe for” human age on their packaging; the safest are approved for kids age 3 and up.
- Think twice about bones or rawhides which can pose their own health risks unless recommended by a veterinarian.