Pets like toys for the same reason people do—they’re fun! Anyone who has ever entertained a cat with a laser pointer knows what we’re talking about. Beyond the pleasure of it all, play is also an important part of keeping them active and healthy. It will also provide mental stimulation, which can help avoid behavioural problems.
How to Choose the Right Toys to Keep Your Pets Safe
Selecting the right cat and dog toy is an important decision. Toys should be fun, durable, and most of all, safe. Keep in mind your pet’s preferences, but also remember to factor in your pet’s size, activity level, and personal preference. Here are a few things to consider.
Choose the right size toy for your pet. If the toy is too big, a small pet might get frustrated and lose interest. Dr. Chip Coombs, Pets Plus Us Chief Veterinary Officer, warns about the opposite problem, as well. “Toys that are too small can easily become lodged in your pet’s throat or be swallowed,” he cautions. “In theory, you might be able to resolve the problem by using the Heimlich Maneuver, but unfortunately, the more likely consequence is surgery, which also has risks.” Toys that are poorly made have the same risk if pieces are torn off and accidentally ingested.
Rawhide dog toys are readily available in many shapes and sizes, but they’re not the best choice for your dog. They soften when chewed and can easily become stuck in your dog’s throat.
Squeaky toys are captivating for many dogs, but use caution. Some might enjoy quietly chewing the toy and hearing it squeak, but others will feel the need to rip the toy apart. Don’t leave your dog unsupervised with this kind of toy until you know how your dog will react.
Both dogs and cats may enjoy stuffed toys. Keep an eye on these to make sure the stuffing doesn’t come out and become a choking hazard. Wash soft toys regularly in the washing machine to keep them fresh and clean.
Cats are just as prone to swallowing small items as dogs. They are often attracted to paper clips, rubber bands and bits of string, so be sure to keep these items in a safe place.
Several stuffing-free and extra-tough dog toys are also available. If you have pets that are hard on their playthings, you may want to give them a try.
Finally, don't ever use your hand as a toy. “You may inadvertently teach your dog or cat that it’s okay to play-bite, chase or paw at your hands,” warns Dr. Chip. “They won’t know that this is only allowed at playtime, and you may suddenly have a behavioural problem.” Instead, use a stuffed animal or toy which will keep your hands—and those of your family and guests—safe and sound.
Chew Toys -
rope toys, dental chew toys, kongs are all great choices. Dog toys made of rubber are durable and give your dog’s mouth a great workout. Softer latex toys are great for both young dogs and older dogs because they’re easier on the teeth and gums.
Chase Toys –
these are great for dogs and cats alike. Objects that bounce erratically will keep your pet guessing. Any ordinary ball will do the job too, just keep appropriate size in mind.
Retrieving Toys –
a flying disk like a frisbee can be a great workout for active dogs. A ball thrower can also help you get some distance and make fetch more fun for your dog.
Interactive Toys –
these provide both mental and physical stimulation. Many interactive toys have hollow areas that can be filled with treats. By rolling the toy, your dog or cat can release small morsels over an extended period of time, keeping your pet busy and entertained.
Cat Toys –
cats like many of the same things that dogs do, but feathers and furry mouse toys seem to occupy a special place in their hearts.
No matter what you choose, remember that pets can get tired of their toys if they see the same ones all the time. Have a selection of toys that your pets will enjoy and only leave out a couple of them at a time. That way, old toys can seem like new when it’s their turn to come out to play. Remember, your pet will get the most out of their toys if you use them to play together. After all, what they love most of all is spending time with you.