Chew on This, Not That: How to Choose the Safest Chew Toys for Your Dog


No matter how snuggly and domesticated your pooch is, he still has some of the same behaviors as his wild ancestors. Even the most laid back, couch potato of a dog has a natural desire to chew. And of course, as loving pet parents, we want to provide them with some fun toys to give them a safe outlet for their chewing. Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t realize what a hazard chew toys can be, and every year thousands of dogs become injured or ill by swallowing or chewing on dangerous toys offered by well-meaning owners. Here are some tips to help you distinguish between unsafe and safe chew toys for your dog.

Which Toys Are Unsafe, And Why

It’s likely that you already have a collection of toys for your dog, so let’s start by talking about which toys are unsafe, and why. These guidelines will help you decide which toys need to go before you start your search for safer chewing options.

  • Toys that are too hard: Hard, brittle toys, such as dried bones, hooves, or antlers are not a good choice because they can splinter. If pieces splinter off, they become a choking hazard, or they could be swallowed and lead to a potentially deadly bowel obstruction.
  • Rawhide chews: If you decide to give your dog rawhide, make sure it was made in the USA. Rawhides that come from other countries often contain toxic chemicals that could make your dog very sick. You should always oversee your dog when he’s chewing on rawhide. If he’s tearing off large chunks and swallowing them, take it away. Those chunks may not pass through the GI tract, which could once again lead to a potentially deadly bowel obstruction.
  • Toys that are too soft: Toys that are too soft may be fine for some dogs, but if your dog tears chunks off the toys, those chunks could become a choking hazard or bowel obstruction. Be on the lookout for small parts that could be chewed off or loose strings that could get wrapped around the tongue, too.
  • Toxic toys: Animal-based bone chews and rawhides have been a leading cause of toxic poisoning in dogs. Avoid any chew that contains artificial colors or flavors, and as mentioned above, only purchase rawhides that originated in the US.
  • Toys that are too small: Never give your dog a toy that can fit all the way inside his mouth. Once again, toys that are too small can lead to choking or obstruction.
  • Toys with only one hole in the end: There are many toys out there that have just one hole in the end, such as small balls. If your dog sticks his tongue in the hole, his tongue could end up suctioned inside the toy, leading to serious injury and possibly the need for surgery. Make sure toys with holes have one on each end.

So, Which Chew Toys Are Safest?

Always choose chew toys that are made in the USA, do not contain any toxic chemicals, and are made from hard rubber. Kong toys are the most durable and safest dog toys on the market. If you must give rawhides, make sure no part of the production process takes place in a foreign country.

The Takeaway

No matter what type of toy your dog has, he should always be supervised. If he’s tearing chunks off the toy, take it away immediately. Bowel obstructions will require emergency surgery, and they can be deadly. It’s just not worth the risk!

EPN