Dog Toys or Choking Hazards?!

It was a beautiful summer day as Dr. Katz traveled down Bellevue Avenue on his way to a house call.  As he passed by the park, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a young girl playing fetch with her Dalmatian.  Suddenly as the dog was on his way back to the girl, he dropped lifelessly to the ground.  Without hesitation, Dr. Katz pulled his vehicle off the road and ran to the dog’s side.  He immediately proceeded to administer the Heimlich maneuver and the dog expelled a racket ball!  Thanks to Dr. Katz, the dog survived his ordeal.

Unfortunately this gal learned a lesson the hard way.  Racket balls are not dog toys.  Racket balls are made of a smooth rubber product and once the dog’s saliva makes contact with a Racket ball, it can become a slimy choking hazard, depending on the size of the dog’s throat.

Today, there are numerous dog toys on the market, some toys are made for small dogs and some toys are made for larger breeds.  Always take your dog’s physical size into consideration before purchasing dogs toys, especially the size of his mouth and the power of his jaws!  Most dogs love to retrieve tennis balls, they are safe for the majority of dogs however, if you own a giant breed of dog, a tennis ball might become a choking hazard for that particular breed.

Dog toy manufacturers generally have warning labels posted on the toys that they sell.  Read the package before you purchase.  In the past several years, dog toy manufacturers have developed a smaller tennis ball for the toys breeds.  These very small tennis balls should never find their way into the mouth of a large breed dog!  If my clients own a small breed and also a large retrieving breed, who both love to play ball, I always suggest they purchase large tennis balls for both.  The small tennis balls would present too great of a choking hazard to the retriever if left in the dog's environment.

Chewing devices can pose a danger as well.  I will never forget my friend’s Pit Bull and the Cow Hoof incident!  One day she stopped by the Pet Store to purchase some new chewing devices for her pup.  She went home and gave him a Cow Hoof and he was in heaven.  She sat down to a cup of coffee and watched him enjoying his new chew when suddenly she heard a “snap”!  He broke the hoof in half lengthwise and swallowed the entire half!  He ended up at the veterinarian’s office. 

Brachycephalic breeds (flat faced dogs) have very wide jaws and inappropriate sized chews can become lodged in their mouth and/or throat.  It’s better to be safe than sorry, always purchase toys and chewing devices bigger than your dog’s mouth and throat.  If you purchase rawhides with knotted ends, supervise your dog while he chews.  If the dog's powerful jaws break off the knot, take the device away and chalk it up to experience.  It's a wise choice to supervise your dog when they are chewing rawhides.

Check your dog’s toys frequently for cracks, chips and wear and tear.  If in doubt, throw it out and buy new!

Betty's Toy Hints:  Dogs love those stuffed toys, they toss them, they retrieve them and they carry them around.  Once your dog seems to become bored of his/her old stuffies, simply toss them in the washer and dryer and bring them back to life again!

For those who sew:  Take a worn out stuffed toy that has lost it's stuffing and flatten one empty small spring water bottle with your foot.  Make sure that the bottle has no top/cap.  After flattening the bottle as well as possible, slide the bottle into the worn out stuffed toy.  You may have to cut the hole open a bit larger to fit the flattened bottle inside.  Sew up the toy and toss it to your dog.  Pups love the crackling sound of this new toy.  Total cost:  $0.   Time to make:  Approximately 15 minutes.