20 Dog Toys You Should Always Avoid

Your dog needs to have toys to play with, chew on and stay entertained with. When choosing the best possible dog toys, it’s important to think about safety and function. Not all dog toys on the market are durable or safe.

In fact, just like children’s toys come with warnings and safety labels, so should the toys made for pups, but sadly, they don’t. If you don’t have experience with dogs or with which play items could be bad for your pooch, then you’re in the right place. These are twenty of the worst dog toys that should be strictly avoided:

1. Stuffed animals (particularly with Poly-Fil)

You should avoid any dog toy that has Poly-Fil or other kinds of stuffing. The reason for this is that your pup will probably chew the toy and eat the filling. The first danger is the choking hazard. Many pets have chewed the filling out of stuffed toys only to have it get hung up in their teeth and prevent them from fully swallowing the string.

It can get lodged in the throat and cause choking or death. If they are able to swallow it, other problems just as serious can arise. It could lead to intestinal or other types of internal blockages.

While some animals can safely pass polyfilling, others are not so fortunate. It can stop the digestive process and create the need for expensive surgery to remove the blockage. If not attended to, come cases of blockage can result in death, so it’s best not to buy dog toys that contain stuffing or synthetic fillers.

2. Nylabone Plaque Attackers

This particular brand and type of chew bone is intended to promote healthy gums and teeth, but it can also cause damage. By no means are we knocking Nylabone’s brand.  They make good products however there is a tendency for this style of Nylabone product to fracture into tiny pieces that become shards with more aggressive chewers.

In fact, the company has recently issued a warning on the item. The shards could easily cause perforations in the intestines, causing harm to the dog. In some cases, surgery is required to repair the damages, but this type of medical intervention is not always successful, when the damage is extreme. The other Nylabone products are still considered to be safe dog toys and no reports of fracture have come in on them.

3. Squeaky toys

Rubber toys that have small plastic mechanisms inside to make them squeak can also pose a health risk to your pet. It is the natural instinct of the dog to chew on the toy and try to get the squeaker out.

The noisemaker could be swallowed. The biggest health threat with squeaky toys is the choking hazard. While some owners will allow their dogs to play with them under supervision, it’s not really worth the risk if someone doesn’t know that they are dangerous leaves it down for your pet to play with unsupervised. Puppies are at especially high risk for choking.

4. Toys with bells inside

This is another popular style of dog toy. Many come with bells that are sewn inside the interior. As the dog shakes the toy, the bell rings and although they may have fun with the item, it’s not a good idea to let them play with these toys.

The dog will attempt to chew the toy up in order to get to the noisy little bell. This is definitely a choking hazard. In addition, it could become lodged somewhere in the digestive tract leading to intestinal blockages.

5. Latex toys

Latex is a popular material that is used for making a variety of dog and other pet toys. Just as people can have allergic reactions to latex, so can your pet. If you’ve ever seen an allergic reaction to latex on a human, then you’ll know what to look for in your pet. The skin will become covered with a rash that has a tendency to blister and weep. In dogs, hair loss is also possible.

Make sure to check the label if you are buying the toy at a local retailer. You could also get online before you make your purchase to find out what kind of materials are used to make the toy. It’s far better to be cautious and safe, than to have a sick dog on your hands.

6. Vinyl toys with Phthalate

Phthalate is a compound that is found in vinyl. You know that heavy smell that some vinyl products come with? The more it has the smell, the greater the amount of Phthalates in the product and this is a very bad thing. There are quite a few dog toys that contain Phthalates and they can be deadly to dogs as well as other pets.

They can cause danger to the kidneys, liver, and other cell structures within the animal. They are so risky because dogs use their mouths when they play with a toy. They slobber on it and they breathe in the fumes that are put out by the item and this means that it gets into the bloodstream where high concentrations over a period of time can cause damage. Dogs are also likely to chew on the toy and bit off pieces, swallowing them. Vinyl toys should be strictly avoided.

7. Dog toys made outside of the United States

The sad truth is not all manufacturers are truthful about the materials that are used in the products that they make. There is a greater risk of the toy that you purchase coming with unsafe materials if it is made outside of the United States. There really are few regulations in place to ensure that dog toys are manufactured with safe materials.

Some dog toys may come laced with different potentially harmful chemicals included fire retardants or formaldehyde. This is why you should avoid buying any toy for your dog that has not been made in the U.S.A. In addition to this, you should only shop with manufacturers who are transparent about the manufacturing process.

There aren’t too many out there, but if you look, you’ll be able to find some that clearly label their products with information about the materials used, and some even go so far as to ensure that the manufacturing process is completely safe. Companies that are concerned about going Green to save the planet are the ones that are the most likely to avoid generating toxins from the manufacturing process. They toys are more likely to be safer for your pet to play with.

8. Tug ropes

Tug ropes made specifically for dogs may seem like a harmless enough toy, but there are several reasons why you should avoid them for your pooch. The first is that they can cause damage to the teeth. When owners choose to play tug of war with their dogs, it creates a sense of competition. Vigorous play can be dangerous for the front and side teeth.

In addition to this, some dogs become aggressive and have bitten their owners in a bid to gain control over the tug rope. When dog owners surrender control of the rope to the dog, the pooches feel that they have won the contest and they have a tendency to begin challenging the owners’ authority. Play with tug ropes can result in disobedience or owner injury.

On a final note, some tug ropes are made of materials that splinter off and become lodged in the dog’s mouth. If swallowed, they can cause internal damages, particularly if the materials splinter off into shard like shapes which are sharp and may penetrate delicate tissues. It’s best to avoid tug ropes for your pet.

9. The Shoe made of hide or latex

This is a very popular dog toy, but it’s not a good idea at all. Some dog toy shoes are made of rawhide and this material can become softened and torn off into pieces that present a choking hazard. They can also lodge in the intestines and cause blockages. The latex or vinyl shoe toys contain potentially harmful chemicals that can be hard on the liver or kidneys of your pet, so it’s best to avoid them totally.

There is one more reason that you shouldn’t ever buy a shoe toy for your dog. It encourages them to chew on shoes. Who in their right mind would want to give their dog the idea that it is ever okay to chew on a shoe? It’s not fair to the dog to let them chew on a toy shoe, then punish them for chewing on one of yours. Regardless of the materials they are made out of, shoes do not make good dog toys.

10. Pig Ears

Pig ears are another dog toy that you can pick up at several pet supply retailers. They were once considered to be ideal because they are chewy and help teething puppies to satisfy the chewing instinct. It has since been discovered that pig ears are frequently swallowed. This presents a serious choking hazard for dogs of all sizes. In addition, if they do manage to wolf it down, they are very hard to digest.

In all likelihood, a swallowed pig ear is likely to be thrown up and the dog can either choke on it or you will have a really nasty mess to clean up. When pig ears are regurgitated by your dog, they are very slimy and smelly. There are lots of very good reasons not to give your dog pig ears as a toy.

11. The Tennis Ball

Most pet owners who have tennis balls lying around donate them to their dogs. While the surface is ideal for getting a good grip with the teeth, there is a danger in larger dogs for choking. Small dogs may not have this issue so it’s probably fine to let them chew on the ball under supervision. Remember that dogs have a chewing instinct. If the top layer of the tennis ball is chewed off in pieces, they can present a choking hazard. This is why it’s recommended that you avoid giving your dog a tennis ball as a toy.

12. Kong Beast Ball Toy

This is an attractive dog toy that has been popular with pet owners up until recently. You can check on social media and see that there are quite a few complaints about the Kong Beast Ball toy because of the danger that it poses. There are several pictures posted that show how the ball that is placed at the end of this once popular tug toy can become stuck on the dog’s tongue. Some animals have experienced damage to their tongues when the owners have not been able to remove them quickly enough. This can cause some serious health risks so put this one on your list of the most dangerous toys for dogs and avoid buying it for your pooch.

13. Rawhide

There are countless types of dog toys that are made out of rawhide material. This was once considered to be the ultimate material for making dog toys. The most popular types are chew bones and chew sticks. You can check the statistics and you will find that there are large numbers of dogs showing up to veterinary clinics on a daily basis for complications due to swallowing rawhide pieces torn from chew toys. The most common procedure used for treatment is removal of the pieces from the stomach. They can cause blockages or even make the dog sick.

Rawhide is really just a piece of leather that has been treated with chemicals. They can contain formaldehyde, ethoxyquin, arsenic or other potentially harmful compounds. BHA and BHT are preservatives that are commonly used in the creation of rawhide, and they are known cancer causing agents. The truth of the matter is that dogs who routinely chew rawhide over long periods of time have an increased likelihood for developing cancers, or acute pancreatitis. It’s best to avoid any rawhide toy for your dog altogether.

14. Dog Balls

These are different than tennis balls. There are several manufacturing companies throughout the world, that make a wide variety of balls for dogs in different sizes and materials. The foam rubber ones are among the worst because they are easily chewed apart and your dog is likely to swallow the pieces. If he doesn’t choke on them, he may develop an intestinal blockage and require surgery.

Another concern with any type of dog ball toy is the size. If you can find a dog ball that is made of perfectly safe materials and it is fairly durable, you might have something worth owning for your pet, but the size must be right in order for it to be safe. Balls that are too small could be swallowed or cause choking. Balls with squeakers pose an additional chocking hazard. Balls that have slick outer coatings are among the worst for becoming choking hazards. As dogs carry them in their mouths, or chew on them, the ball becomes slimy with the saliva. This makes it easier for them to slide right down the throat and become lodged. We say no to most dog balls unless it meets perfect requirements for the safety of your pet.

15. Painted dog toys

Usually, painted toys for dogs are the ones that you can find on clearance or at a budget price. This is because most dog owners know that they are unsafe for their pets. The paint could easily be chewed and swallowed. In some cases, the paint may be toxic as is seen the most often in toys manufactured in China as well as in several other countries from the outside of the United States.

Lead has even been found in some of the toys that are labelled as being specifically made for pets. Some experts on dog safety also recommend that pet owners should avoid ceramic painted bows that are intended for use as water and food dishes, because it is difficult in most cases to discern whether or not they are made of safe materials.

16. Chew toys with bumps on them

Some special chew toys have been manufactured with higher bumps that act as dental aids. While the concept is a good idea, what can really happen is not so good. The bumps that are intended to stimulate and massage gums can actually be chewed off of the main base of the toy quickly as easily. This is especially true if your dog is an aggressive chewer. The small pieces can lodge in the throat or cause problems in the digestive system in the form of blockages. Most materials used to make these toys is not readily digestible so they should be avoided. It’s no fun for your pet to go through the agony of a blockage or avoidable medical procedures. It’s not very pleasant for you to pay the vet bill either.

17. Rubber chew toys

Even the hardest rubber based chew toy will break down over time. As the rubber begins t age, it gets crumbly. The pieces can cause choking or be swallowed and lodge in the digestive tract. This could mean a trip to the vet to have the pieces removed. Time and dog slobber help to erode the integrity of any rubber product. Even the hardest formulations of rubber will break down every time. Never give your dog softer rubber toys. Not even if they are heavily promoted by the manufacturer. Go with the hardest rubber and replace when it shows signs of wear.

18. Cow Hooves

Cow Hooves are believed to be a safe and natural toy for dogs, and some are even sold in pet stores. There are a few different reasons by Cow Hooves dog toys should be strictly avoided. The first is that there have been multiple cases of dogs fracturing their teeth when chewing on them. In addition to this, some animals have also experienced a splintering of the jaw bone, particularly when they chew very hard and damage their teeth. The injury can go much further than just the teeth. They can lead to extreme dental issues in canines and the need for expensive dental work, not to mention to pain and discomfort as well as difficulty eating.

19. Pull toys

Pull toys are never recommended as a good choice for a dog toy. Just because they have them for sale in the pet store, doesn’t make them the best option for dogs. There are three major problems associated with pull toys for dogs. Number one, is that there have been far too many reports of owners being accidentally bitten because their dogs were playing hard and trying to get the pull toy away from them. The second issue is that when a pull toy is used for play, the owner will often give up and let the dog have the toy.

This teaches your dog to think that he can become dominant over you. It can result in a dog that will be disobedient and may challenge your authority more often. The third reason why you should always avoid pull toys is that your dog could damage his teeth in rough play. Another issue with the pull style toy is that your dog is likely to chew the string or cord off of it and swallow it. Choking is one of the possibilities and so is swallowing the string and getting a blockage.

20. Chew toys with a hole in the center

There are quite a few dog toys out there that have a hole in the center. It’s not a laughing matter the toy forms a suction in your dog’s mouth. Dogs have lost their lives because of these types of toys. They can suction themselves into your dogs throat and change shape so they are nearly impossible for you to remove, let alone for your dog to do it with no hands.

These toys should be strictly avoided because they are so dangerous. When giving your dog any kind of toy it is important to think about what kind of toy would be suitable and safe for your pet. Take into considerations the shape, materials and whether or not it could become a hazard for your beloved pet.



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