How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Dog

June 9, 2014

By Laurie Darroch

Although dogs will play with just about anything, not every dog toy is safe or appropriate for each individual dog. Choose the toys for your dog as carefully as you would for a human child, to keep them entertained and safe.


Many dog toys are made specifically for a certain size of dog. Read the labels when looking for toys, and purchase the size range that is appropriate for your dog. A toy that is too big and unwieldy for a small dog or puppy may just frustrate the dog and they won’t play with it. A toy that is made for a small dog may be dangerous for a larger dog. It can even pose a choking hazard. Choose a toy that is the right size for your dog. If you have a puppy, replace his toys as he grows to keep the toys age and size appropriate.


Dog toys are made of every kind of material, from soft fabric to hard plastic or rubber and everything in between. A heavy or aggressive chewer may instantly destroy a toy that a smaller or less aggressive chewer plays with for a long time.

Always pay attention to labels. Check for toys that are non-toxic. If it is a homemade toy, be sure to use materials that are dog safe. It may look like a cute dog toy, but unless you are secure in the manufacturer or creator’s experience, it is better not to take a chance with an iffy toy.

Human toys are often not safe for use as a dog toy. Use toys that are specifically made for dogs or that you are sure are dog safe.


Toys are created for different uses. Activity toys such as balls, throwing discs, tugging toys or bubbles give your active dog a way to burn off energy and help to keep them fit and healthy.

Chew toys are for more restrained or calm times when your dog still needs something to do to stay entertained and out of mischief.

Security or comfort toys provide a dog with a favorite stuffed toy that they like to cuddle with or even carry from place to place. There is nothing cuter than watching a dog carry a favorite stuffed toy around.

Reviews and Recommendations

If you are not sure about specific toys, read reviews. Ask friends, your vet, people who work in pet shops or even trainers what their recommendations are. They already have some experience which makes them a good resource when you are choosing toys for your dog. They can also save you time and money.

Common Sense

Even though many toys do come with recommendations on the labels, those are general guidelines. Every dog is an individual. There is no way a company can predict the personal behavior or usage of every single canine customer. Sometimes common sense has to prevail over labeling. Watch how your dog plays with each type of toy. For instance, an aggressive chewer may instantly shred a soft toy that is supposedly safe for their size, age or breed and that type of toy may turn out to be something your dog should not have, even when labeling says it should  be safe.

Learning the habits of your dog is important in choosing appropriate toys that they can play with safely.  It may take some trial and error to find what works for your individual dog. Keep an eye on your dog while they are playing with their toys until you know what works for them.


Check your dog’s toys periodically for signs of extreme wear or breakage. Ingesting broken bits of toys or stuffing can be a hazard for the dog. Throw away old toys that are broken, chewed through or worn.

Over time, your dog will clue you in to what toys interest them. Some dogs like security toys, others like activity toys and some prefer chew toys, or they may prefer a different toy for different moods. Pay attention to what they prefer and what is safest for them to play with, and buy accordingly. Reward good play time behavior with a CANIDAE dog treat to round out a fun experience.

Top photo by Pixel Theif
Middle photo by Taro the Shiba Inu
Bottom photo by Randy Robertson

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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