Letting your dog play with toys is important for their development and general wellbeing. But choosing the wrong sized toys, even tennis or lacrosse balls for larger breeds, can lead to chocking.

It is also important to remember that the dog toy industry is not regulated. This means the wrong type of toy could contain toxic materials or have unsuitable coatings that maybe harmful to your dog.

Some toxic heavy metals found in imports from China have contained cadmium, lead and chromium in the past. Veterinarians have disagreed if the toxic levels found in these toys posed potential harm to pets. However, many pet owners would prefer if the toys they bought were completely free from any of these materials in the first place.

Reputable and dedicated pet retailers usually only stock toys that are free from harmful materials. A good rule of thumb is if the toy has a label advising it is unsafe for children, then it may contain toxic materials and should be avoided.

All dog toys sold by Julius K9 are completely safe for dogs and are trusted by professional trainers.

Toy size and safety

Although it is tempting to simply buy a cheap pack of tennis balls, sports balls are not recommended for many dog breeds. Larger breeds such as German Shepherds, Labradors, and Rottweilers can easily swallow tennis balls and choke. Lacrosse balls are also very hazards to medium or smaller breeds.

It is recommended that dogs should only play with balls with multiple air holes, so if they do manage to swallow them, they do not obstruct the wind pipe. Balls with only a single air hole should also be avoided, as this can create a suction trap; allowing them to be more easily lodged in the throat.

Any toy with detachable parts, or could be chewed into small, easily ingested pieces, should be avoided. This includes stuffed toys, or objects with ribbons or string. These can be swallowed and can be very uncomfortable for your dog or can even lead to more serious stomach issues. In general, you should only let your dog play with dedicated dog toys as these have been designed to be durable and withstand chewing, ripping and general rough play.

But you should always supervise any toy your dog plays with to be on the safe side and only let them play with toys suitable for their size.

Stopping your dog getting bored

On average, UK pet owners spend £184 a year on toys and treats. That is a lot of squeaky burgers! One simple way of keeping your dog interested in their toys longer is rotation. Not playing with all of the toys at once and only letting them play with one or two at a time also helps prolong the dogs’ interest.

Toys should not be used as a substitute to interaction. Leaving a dog to continually entertain itself is a sure-fire way of it growing bored with its toys very quickly. This can also lead to behavioural issues as the dog starts to seek out attention.

Playing fetch with training dummies and balls are important for bonding, exercise and mental wellbeing. Using tug toys also helps strengthen teeth, jaws and grip, and can curb a dog’s desire to nipple on other objects when left alone.