• June 10th, 2021
    Written by: Kimberly

    While almost everyone agrees that your tennis shoe or the couch leg is not a good chew toy for your dog, there are many other popular chew toys on the market that have potential risks as well. These toys are aimed specifically at dogs, but are not always safe for them.

    Not all of these treats are harmful for every dog and there is much debate as to which chew toys are good or bad. You may have even given your dog some of these chew toys before without any ill effects, and that’s fine. You and your vet are the best people to make healthy choices for your dog. However, being aware of the potential risks of some chew toys can help you avoid a scary or painful situation later on.

    Treats That Can Be Dangerous for Dogs

    When it comes to chew toys, there can seem like there are as many restrictions as there are options. Toys can be too hard, too small, at risk for splintering, or just plain unhealthy. Some that most often cause problems are:

    • Rawhide - Chews made from rawhide are one of the most common treats to cause choking or a blockage as little pieces break off. Many rawhides are also treated with chemicals prior to preparation. If you give your dog raw hide, make sure you're watching them as they enjoy it.
    • Animal Bones - A raw bone can contain many of the same bacteria as raw meat. Cooked bones become brittle and could splinter, posing a choking hazard or puncturing internal tissue.
    • Pig Ears - With pigs ears, the coating causes most of the problems. Some dogs experience stomach upset after ingesting it.
    • Antlers or Hooves - In addition to the risk of splintering off, antlers and hooves are hard enough to break a dog’s tooth.
    • Sugary Treats - More than the most limited amounts of sugar can cause weight gain, dental problems, and conditions like diabetes.
    • Ice Cubes - While it might seem like a free treat, ice cubes can break teeth if your pet chews on them, and your dog may not know how to swallow it correctly.
    • Sticks - Another seemingly free chew toy, sticks can splinter and cause internal or external puncture wounds. It's okay to let your dog play and retrieve sticks, but always make sure you're watching them.

    So what should you give your dog to keep him entertained? There are many durable chew toys made of soft materials, like rubber, that are soft enough for your dog’s teeth. Others can be filled with treats to offer mental stimulation as well while your pup tries to puzzle out how to get to the food inside.

    When choosing chew toys, try a few tests. Press your thumbnail into the toy. If it gives, it’s soft enough for your dog to chew. You will also want to make sure the toy is easily washable and won’t break apart easily.

    With any treat or toy, even those not listed here, it is important to supervise your dog while they’re playing or eating. Almost any small object could become a choking hazard. Well trained or non-destructive dogs can accidentally ingest something. Watching your dog helps prevent emergencies and costly vet visits. If your dog loves any of the toys above, that's okay! We have given them to our dogs too. But at least be aware that these toys do carry risks so that you can monitor your dog as they're playing and know what could happen so you know how to respond.