Merritt Milam | August 1, 2023

When it comes to pet toys, safety is essential. While toys offer entertainment, mental stimulation, and a way to keep your pet physically active, they can also pose potential risks if not carefully chosen. As responsible pet owners, it’s important to ensure the toys you choose for your pet are not only enjoyable but also safe for your furry friend.

This month we em-“bark” on a journey of pet-friendly toys, looking at various types, materials, and designs to ensure your pet has a fun, safe, and happy summer.

1. Understanding Your Pet’s Needs
Before choosing any pet toy, it’s important to understand your pet’s individual needs and preferences. Dogs may require toys that engage their natural instincts, such as interactive puzzle toys or chew toys, to prevent boredom and promote dental health. Cats, on the other hand, may benefit from toys that mimic hunting behaviors, like feather wands or laser pointers. By observing your pet’s behavior, you can tailor their toy selection to suit their personality and interests.

2. Prioritizing Safety
The safety of our pets should always be a top priority when selecting toys. Always pick products that are specifically designed for your pet’s breed and size, as toys meant for larger animals may pose choking hazards for smaller pets. Additionally, avoid toys with small parts that can be easily swallowed and those made from toxic materials. Checking for the “pet-safe” label and reading product reviews can provide insights into the toy’s safety and durability.

3. Choosing the Right Materials
Pet toys come in various materials, each accommodating different needs and preferences. For example, rubber and nylon toys are excellent choices for dogs who love to chew. They are durable and can help clean their teeth. For cats, toys made of soft fabric or natural materials like catnip-infused items can be appealing. Be careful with toys made of plastic or other synthetic materials. These can potentially harm your pet.

4. Benefits of Interactive Toys
Interactive toys offer many benefits for pets such as fostering mental stimulation and preventing behavioral issues resulting from boredom or loneliness. Puzzle toys will mentally challenge a pet and encourage problem-solving skills. Some interactive toys dispense treats, making playtime a rewarding experience.

5. Bonding through Play
Beyond physical and mental benefits, pet toys also help you bond with your furry companion. Interactive play sessions create a strong emotional connection, trust, and a deeper understanding of each other’s body language. Strengthening this bond can help lower anxiety and fear in pets, making them feel more secure and loved.

There are many pet-friendly toys available that will help keep your pet engaged and challenged. Here are some popular options:

Interactive/Puzzle Toys: Interactive toys often have built-in features like squeakers, ropes, or moving parts that capture a dog’s attention. Examples include treat-dispensing balls, interactive puzzle boards, and snuffle mats.

Chew Toys: Chew toys are great for keeping dogs entertained and engaged. Look for durable toys made from high-quality materials. Kong toys, for example, are popular choices as they can be stuffed with treats or peanut butter to provide additional mental stimulation.

Rope Toys: Rope toys are excellent for interactive play and can help keep a dog’s teeth clean. They are often made of durable ropes and come in various shapes and sizes, such as knots or tug-of-war toys.

Plush Toys: Plush toys provide comfort and entertainment for dogs. Look for toys that are specifically designed for dogs, with reinforced seams and no small parts that can be easily chewed off and swallowed.

Squeaky Toys: Many dogs enjoy the sound of squeaky toys. They provide mental stimulation and engage their natural hunting drive. These toys often have built-in squeakers that make noise when squeezed. Make sure you watch for torn or damaged areas where the squeaker can come out of the toy and become a choking hazard.

Ball Launchers: Ball launchers are great for dogs that love to chase and retrieve balls. They allow you to throw balls long distances without straining your arm, providing both physical exercise and mental stimulation for your dog.

Feather Wands for Cats: Cats are natural hunters, and feather wands mimic the movement of prey, stimulating their predatory instincts. Engaging your cat in interactive play with feather wands can keep them entertained and provide much-needed exercise.

Catnip Toys for Cats: Catnip-infused toys can be irresistible to many cats. The scent of catnip induces a temporary state of euphoria, providing a fun and enjoyable experience for your feline friend.

Interactive Laser Pointers: Both cats and some dogs can be captivated by the elusive red dot of a laser pointer. This interactive toy encourages physical activity and mental stimulation as your pet tries to catch the elusive light.

Remember to always supervise your pet while they are playing with toys and regularly inspect them for any signs of wear or damage. Choose toys appropriate for your pet’s size, age, and chewing habits to ensure their safety. Whether it’s a fun game of fetch, a challenging puzzle, or a simple feather wand, these toys can bring happiness to both pets and pet parents.