Every pet outlet is taking advantage of the impulse buyer at this festive time of year. Pet stores and sites are tantalizing dog lovers with a vast array of “dog stuff”, and it is tough for dog lovers to resist with all the “hot buys” offered. Here a toy, there a toy, everywhere a toy, and your dog certainly needs a new toy (or two, or three!) for Christmas, right?
It is important to realize that there is NO agency overseeing the yearly $50 BILLION dollar dog toy market, and many of them are not good for your canine. With the market flooded with cheap imports, it’s BUYER BEWARE. Double check and then check again to make sure any toy is non-toxic and SAFE. Hazards can include anything from needles left inside stuffed toys to chemical laden paints and choking dangers, which are all too common with many of the toys. Although tennis balls are wonderful for some dogs, if the dog is an aggressive chewer, he can puncture the ball with his teeth and the ball is stuck in his mouth, or if he chews them in half, pieces can be swallowed…we have two dogs at the shelter right now that LOVE tennis balls, but cannot be left unattended with them. Squeaky toys are a favorite for almost all dogs, but again it is common for dogs to choke on them often causing a blockage that requires surgery. Dogs also love rawhides which can become soft when they are chewed and can lodge in the throat. I do not recommend ever giving raw hides to your dog!
Please choose products made in North America or Europe over those mass-produced and imported from other countries where safety standards are minimal. Inspect any toy for loose parts or pieces that might easily break off. Don’t give children’s toys to dogs, because they would probably chew off and choke on the eyes and noses of stuffed animals.
One of my very favorite commercial toy for dogs is the Kong. The Classic Kong has been around for more than 20 years, and is a “must have” staple for dog caregivers. Kong toys are uniquely shaped, extraordinarily strong, rubber toys with hollow centers, and they have an unpredictable bounce that lures most dogs into an ongoing game of catch, chase, and chew. (Sadly the Kong Company is now outsourcing some of their new products, but the Classic Kongs are made in the USA.) This amazing toy can be used for therapy, boredom, separation anxiety, other behavior problems, and just plain fun! Every dog should have several Kongs, especially if he is left alone for extended periods of time. A Kong can be stuffed with almost any kind of food your dog likes. Mix some of his meal with a little canned dog food, yogurt, peanut butter, cottage cheese…combinations are endless.
Another favorite toy is the CUZ, an ingeniously designed, natural rubber ball with feet….but that is not the only inventive thing about it. It squeaks…and the squeaker is built into the Cuz so that it won’t fall out. It has become a real favorite with the dogs at the shelter. It is a well-made toy made by JW Pets, a US based company that claims their ideas are l00% homegrown. They do their own inventing, designing, and creating in their facility in Texas…no outsourcing. They also have a big assortment of other creative, well made toys, with the latest addition being the Cuz Tails, which has a soft, squeaky tail that can be bounced, tugged and fetched …fun for both humans and canines. JW dog toys are better quality than most of the toys you find in dog toy departments. We encourage you to check out their website at www.jwpet.com. You’ll find some really fun dog stuff.
Remember that no toy is indestructible, and as long as the toy industry is an unsupervised playground, it is the responsibility of the caregivers to keep their eyes on the ball, stuffing, and squeaker.