Home > Dog Safety > The Dangers of Interactive Dog Toys

The Dangers of Interactive Dog Toys

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 15 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Dog Toy Safety Danger Dangerous

Toys can be a wonderful source of fun and enjoyment for dogs – and can play an important role in keeping a dog entertained and preventing problem behaviour, such as destructive chewing and continuous crying and barking.

Interactive toys, in particular, can be particularly good in this respect as they stimulate your dog’s brain, encouraging them to use their problem-solving skills to figure out how to obtain rewards, such as food treats hidden inside them. They are a particular lifesaver for dogs that struggle to cope with being left alone in the house and either become destructive or anxious and noisy. However, interactive toys can also have a “dark side” so it pays to choose them wisely.

General Toy Safety

No matter what the manufacturer’s label says, no toy is 100% safe or indestructible. Different factors can contribute to how safe or dangerous a dog toy can be and they are further dependent on your dog’s personality, habits, energy level and size. Don’t simply go on size though – there are medium-sized breeds that are very powerful chewers and some giant breeds that have very soft mouths. Dogs with persistent personalities are also more likely to “attack” a toy until it comes apart under the onslaught and thus possibly presenting dangerous parts which may be swallowed.

In general, with any new toy, always watch and supervise the dog initially to see how he interacts with it. You can quickly get an idea of how fragile the toy is and whether it is suitable for prolonged, unsupervised play. Don’t take a chance – discard any toys which seem likely to pose a threat or at least save them only for supervised play.

Interactive Toys

In recent years, interactive toys for dogs have become very popular. As more and more people have to work and leave their dogs at home, they are finding these interactive toys an ideal way of keeping their dogs busy and preventing problem behaviours from developing. These toys range from the Kong to “treat balls” or “treat cubes” – the fundamental principle is the same: treats are hidden inside the toys and can either be slowly licked and chewed out, as in the case of the Kong, or fall out as the toy is pushed around, as in the case of the treat balls and cubes. Most dogs find these toys very entertaining, helping them expend both physical and mental energy as they play with them and seek the treats hidden inside. However, a few recent incidents have shown that these such dog toys are not without their risks – in particular, a particular type of treat ball which only has one hole for the treats to fall out of.

Chai’s Story

Perhaps the most well-known horror story connected with the dangers of these interactive treat balls is the story of Chai, a 10 year old Labrador-cross living in New York. Chai had been left alone at home and was playing with a rubber treat ball when his tongue became stuck. It was sucked inside the one hole in the ball and because of the vacuum that was created due to the lack of any other holes, it became impossible for him to pull his tongue back out again. The restricted circulation soon caused his tongue to swell up and although he was rushed to the veterinary clinic where the ball was finally cut away and removed, the tongue remained so swollen that it was unable to be saved and had to be amputated.

Following the surgery, Chai has had a hard time relearning how to eat and drink without a tongue and his cooling ability is severely hampered without a functional tongue to pant with. The surgery cost his owner thousands of dollars and there is further expense in the special diet Chai needs to be on post-surgery. Chai isn’t the first dog to suffer this accident with the same ball – a previous Labrador-cross lost his life when his tongue became stuck in the ball and several other owners have come forward since Chai’s story was made public to report similar incidences with their dogs.

While this toy has been recalled by the company and many dog owners have been warned by Chai’s story, it serves as a reminder. There can be other toys with a similar effect. Therefore, in general when considering treat dispensing toys, make sure there are at least 2 holes in the object, whether a ball or cube or any other shape – to avoid the ‘vacuum effect’.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Kgldsun - Your Question:
Can I bring your attention to our frightening experience after giving our dog one of the 'filled' hard bone like treats. He was 'licking/sucking' out the interior and lucky we were around. We heard a strange yelping noise and then he was frantic. The suction had his tongue inside the bone. It was a good long near two minutes before we could release it.

Our Response:
Thanks you for drawing our and our readers' attention to this. You may wish to inform the company directly as this could also affect other dogs.
SaferPets - 16-May-17 @ 11:41 AM
Can I bring your attention to our frightening experience after giving our dog one of the 'filled' hard bone like treats. He was 'licking/sucking' out the interior and lucky we were around. We heard a strange yelping noise and then he was frantic. The suction had his tongue inside the bone. It was a good long near two minutes before we could release it.
Kgldsun - 15-May-17 @ 4:34 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Kit
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Hi, I am just looking for a bit of advice with regards to how long the police can keep my dog. He is a maltipoo and was accused of biting my…
    10 January 2018
  • BecsB
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    @D - I feel the same. My rescue dog is a bit frisky and not very friendly with other dogs, so when other dogs come bouding up to him to play,…
    22 December 2017
  • SaferPets
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Cami - Your Question:I am rent a room and I am livibg with my landlady she got a dog.but for 3 months she is not coming home just sometimes to…
    13 November 2017
  • Cami
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    I am rent a room and i am livibg with my landlady she got a dog ..but for 3 months she is not coming home just sometimes to take some clothes…
    11 November 2017
  • saxonheidi
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Harleydog.. contact the police and don't take no for an answer...The other person did not have control of their dog and that is against the…
    5 November 2017
  • Harleydog
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Morning my dog was attacked yesterday by a off leash dog, mine was on lead. Resulting in my dog needing stitches , were do I stand with the new…
    1 November 2017
  • Junet55
    Re: Introducing a Puppy to Other Dogs
    Hi I'm getting a new puppy, can she go into my boyfriend's house (he has an unvaccinated dog) if I don't allow physical…
    29 September 2017
  • Gill.
    Re: Safe Dog Breeds for Elderly People
    @Karen - dog rescue centres do re-home dogs with the elderly and a dog that needed minimum exercise would be required, or…
    26 September 2017
  • Karen
    Re: Safe Dog Breeds for Elderly People
    My mother in law is 86 and has just had to have her alsatian put to sleep after being her companion for 15 years she is…
    25 September 2017
  • Vetnurse90
    Re: Pet Injuries That Can be Treated at Home
    @Dionne - You can clean the wound with a non-stinging antiseptic diluted in warm water. Only if you notice changes…
    15 September 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SaferPets website. Please read our Disclaimer.