Protect your Pet while Pampering with Toys

by Christia Gibbons

Leave an empty box on the floor. Turn away for 1 second. Turn back in another second. Oh, there’s the cat, doing what entertains it best: Sleeping. In. A. Box.

We’re all about pleasing our pets (our cats are somewhat better at amusing themselves), and we love to pamper them year-round. But we need to be thoughtful about which toys to give them.

Veterinarians want us to stay away from giving laser pointers, balls of yarn, tennis balls, and stuffed animals. Oops, many pet owners are guilty of plying their pets with these toys.

But the experts say that while you may be entertained watching your cat chase a laser point of light, you are frustrating them because they never are able to actually catch their “prey.”

As for that ball of yarn, you may be introducing your frolicking feline to a health hazard. Yarn string, thread, floss, rope, and similar items can be swallowed, looped around kitty’s tongue, or get bunched up in their intestines.

That fuzz on the tennis balls — you know the slobbering, slick feeling when you throw it — can actually act like sandpaper to a dog’s teeth, and that’s not a good thing. Go ahead and play fetch, but make sure to take the toy away once the game is over so no extra chewing is going on. Dogs have been known to rub their teeth down to their gums.

While ripping apart a stuffed toy is, well, really fun, don’t forget those stuffed creatures come with plastic eyes and other parts your dog could swallow. Swallowing a chunk of stuffing could lead to intestinal obstruction. Never leave your pet alone with such a toy; keep a vigilant eye.

Beware the ball that has a single hole.

Dogs can get their tongues stuck in those holes. So, closely examine any ball before buying one for your pet. Big dogs can swallow golf balls and small bouncy ones — stay away from those.

Also, the experts warn that the cheaper toys (and pet food and treats) from China are made with few, if any, safety regulations or government oversight. Be aware of the possibility they are contaminated with heavy metals, other toxins, and choking hazards.

While leashes aren’t toys, they are an everyday accouterment to your pet’s life. Stay away from retractable leashes that can cause friction burns and cuts to you and your pet. Consider a short bungee leash instead.

Do’s & Don’t’s for Your Furry Friend

Additionally, don’t let your cat play with:

  • Paper clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Feather toys
  • Plastic bags
  • Toys with small parts inside
  • Toys small enough for your cat to swallow (such as sparkle balls)

Do let them play with:

  • Chase and pounce toys
  • Treat dispensing toys
  • Cat water fountains
  • Cat tunnels
  • Cat exercise wheels
  • Cat climbing toys

For your canine friends, avoid:

  • Sticks
  • Synthetic stuffing
  • Kids’ toys
  • Squeaker toys when you can’t determine the durability of the actual squeaker
  • Human toys
  • Plastic “chew” bones

Do research the best:

  • Active toys (think tug-of-war)
  • Distraction toys
  • Comfort toys
  • Puzzle toys
  • Fetch toys

Now go play!