Finding the perfect chew toy for your furry pal is tough when you are faced with aisle after aisle of products. To help, our team has put together a guide that outlines chew toy rules, and lists which toys and chews to avoid, and which ones are safe options.

#1: Avoid toxic chemicals and ingredients in your pet’s chew toys

Unfortunately, no regulatory body oversees the manufacturing of pet products, so no one ensures chew toys are free of harmful ingredients. As your pet’s caretaker, you must ensure they do not ingest toxic chemicals. Read product labels to ensure chew toys are free from polyvinyl chloride, arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, and phthalates.

#2: Choose the appropriate size and strength toy for your pet

When picking out the best chew toy for your pet, choose one that fits comfortably in their mouth, without being so small it’s easily swallowed. Also, avoid picking one that is too large for your pet’s mouth, which will be difficult and uncomfortable to chew. Choose softer rubber toys for a puppy, and more durable toys that can withstand the powerful chewing of an adult dog.

#3: Test the chew toy’s rigidity for your pet

Many popular chew toys are actually too hard for dogs to safely chew. When testing out your pet’s chew toys, hit the product against your knee. If that hurts your kneecap, it will hurt your dog’s teeth, and could fracture the teeth and require extraction. Also, check that you can dent a rubber chew toy with your fingernail to ensure the toy is not too tough.

#4: Monitor your pet while they have a chew toy

To ensure your pet’s safety, monitor them closely while they gnaw on toys, especially during their first encounter with a new toy type. Supervise your dog with an edible chew toy to prevent them from swallowing large chunks. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, they may destroy any toy they come across, so always watch them closely when they have a toy.

Pet chew toys to avoid

Many products marketed as great chew toys for dogs actually pose a substantial health risk. Avoid giving your dog the following items:

  • Bones, antlers, and hooves — While these items last a long while, they are much too hard and can easily fracture a tooth, no matter how aggressively your dog chews. They are also often flavored with artificial ingredients and laced with chemicals, and high in fat.
  • Sticks — When your dog crunches on a stick, the stick may splinter into sharp shards that can pierce their mouth and throat, and become lodged in their gastrointestinal tract.
  • Tennis balls — When tennis balls become wet, the felt becomes highly abrasive, especially if dirt or sand is trapped in the fibers, and your dog can wear away tooth enamel if they chew excessively on a tennis ball. These balls also pose a choking hazard, because they can be easily swallowed by large dogs. 
  • Rope toys and soft plush toys — Fabric toys can easily be shredded by a powerful chewing dog. If ingested, strings, stuffing, and fabric can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction that requires surgical removal.

Safe pet chew toys

Look for the following chew toys that are safe options for your pet:

  • Rubber Kong — A classic, the rubber Kong has two holes to prevent airway obstruction, and can easily be stuffed with your furry pal’s favorite snacks. Kongs also come in several varieties, ensuring you can find the perfect fit for your cat, puppy, or large power chewer.
  • Goughnuts toys — These chew toys made from 100% natural rubber come with a safety indicator so you know when to toss the toy. Better yet, Goughnuts toys come with a free replacement guarantee if your pup exposes the red safety indicator.
  • Dental chews — Give your pet a chew that doubles as entertainment and oral health care with chews approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Although you still have to monitor your pet while they are gnawing away, these treats are proven to slow plaque and tartar accumulation.
  • Fruit and veggies — Pet-safe fruits and veggies make excellent healthy chews for your furry pal—and pack a powerful nutrient-rich punch. Try dehydrating strips of sweet potato for a long-lasting chew, or freeze chunks of bananas and apples mixed with peanut butter in your pet’s Kong.

Safe chew toys that your four-legged friend enjoys can prevent fractured teeth, enamel erosion, and gastrointestinal obstructions. But, we know pets chew on things they shouldn’t and get into trouble, so our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Waller team is always ready to help. Give us a call if your pet gnaws on an inappropriate chew toy.