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Unsafe Dog Toys
4 Tips to Help You Keep Your Dog Safe

There are a few dog toy hazards you should know about to help keep your canine companion safe and sound.

1. Beware hollow hard rubber toys with only one opening

My vet had to remove part of a dog's tongue because the dog got it caught in a toy stuffed with peanut butter.

The trapped tongue swelled which cut off circulation and essentially 'killed' part of the tongue. Fortunately, the dog still had enough tongue left to lap water, but some dogs have suffered even worse injuries.

The problem results from a design deficiency when a toy has only one opening which creates a vacuum effect and traps the tongue.

Make certain any toy you stuff with food has openings at both ends.

2. Stick to toys made in the USA, Canada or the United Kingdom

Remember the dog food recall of couple years ago? Dog food made in China contained dangerous levels of toxins. The same situation, according to a Consumer Reports article, has existed in dog toys.

When China and other Asian or Middle East countries have the same manufacturing and safety standards that we do, I'll withdraw this warning.

3. Limit rawhide and sticks

It's not that the rawhide itself is dangerous, it's that dog saliva makes it soft enough that a dog may try to swallow it. That doesn't turn out well especially for small dogs.

Throw out any rawhide chew once it becomes small enough that your dog might try to gulp it down or even better, only give a dog a rawhide chew when you're there to supervise.

A similar problem exists with sticks. Dogs usually love to chew on them although few try to swallow them. The problem is created by splinters.

Those can get caught in a dog's tongue, mouth, cheeks or throat and require veterinary intervention. Splinters can be difficult to find and remove even for a vet. I've known a few cases where the splinter wasn't discovered until an infection set in caused by a puncture from a small splinter.

Much better to give a dog a hard rubber chew.

4. Periodically inspect and clean your dog's toys

Don't let your dog play with toys that have stuffing come out or loose parts that could choke him or get caught in his stomach or intestines. Throw out damaged and worn out toys.

Don't neglect cleaning them. I like Kong toys because I can put them in the top rack of my dishwasher. If your toy won't stand that, use a Clorox wipe or something similar to disinfect it. Think of how much bacteria a dog toy can collect after being thrown on the ground or floor a hundred times!

Also, be aware that homemade toys are rarely as strong as commercially made ones. Inspect them more frequently.

Remember, your dog has to count on you to keep him safe.

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