I’m not a fear based type person and I normally shy away from titles like that but I wanted to send a very strong signal. Make no mistake about it, chew toys can kill…it happened to my girl Ginger.
I lost her to a chew toy.
3 year old Ginger was a healthy, vibrant, intelligent Lab who, like all Labs do, loved to chew on things. We mistakenly bought her one of those heavy rope chew toys so she could play tug-o-war with the other dogs. She’d had them before. All of our dogs had. We never had a problem.
One night, sitting on the couch watching TV, Ginger in her customary position (sitting next to me, taller than I am while sitting) she looked over at me and got that smile on her face…the universal “I’m about to puke” doggy smile and sure enough, vomited all over me.
Dogs puke, we know that, but after they usually feel better. Ginger didn’t and I could tell something was bothering her. She just wasn’t quite herself so I took her to the emergency vet. X-rays showed some constriction in her guts but nothing really visible as to what was causing it. We stayed there that night and took her to our normal vet the next day.
Dr. “G” is quite familiar with all of our pets and she recognized the problem with Ginger right away. She recommended immediate surgery and also said it would be a delicate situation so recommended the top-rated pet care place in the Atlanta area. We took Ginger there that day, she had the emergency surgery and the folks there confirmed that they removed several lengths of ropey chew toy material that had bound up in her guts. They said the prognosis was fair but that Ginger would require close supervision for at least a couple of days. My wife and I got to visit with her – she was druggy and sleepy but we know that she knew it was us. She was glad to see us and even in the midst of the pain and drugs she managed to do that tail wag thing she did. She just kind of collapsed in our laps – the drugs were pretty strong. Looking back on that, I feel like the staff had given us our final chance to love up on her…we didn’t know it at the time though. Our hopes were high.
My wife and I had been up for two days straight so elected to go home to get some sleep and return first thing in the morning. We got a call about 3am and were told that Ginger had passed away in her sleep. The damage the toy had done had been too great and the amount of repairs they had been able to do was not enough. Zero blame to the vets…I know they did all they could.
So, my point, be very careful what kind of chew toys you buy for your four legged friends. We now stay away from anything with rope or fiber that may “string out” when ripped. We run a dog rescue and have dogs ranging from a small dachshund to very large pit bulls so there are a lot of toys around our place…all of them now hard rubber or other material.
We’ve been rescuing dogs for many years and during that time, they always played with the rope toys and we never had a problem. You may fall into this category. But it’s a bit of a ticking time bomb and as the saying goes, it’s not “if” but “when” so please, if your dogs are chewing on ropey type chew toys, give strong consideration to replacing them. Our hearts were broken when we lost Ginger…she was only 3 and I had been looking forward to seeing her grow into an old dog. So just…be careful and think carefully about the kind of toys you give your dogs and think long and hard about any toy that will become stringy after it’s been chewed on. “My dogs have been chewing on them for years and there’s never been a problem” is not a good enough reason…trust me, I know…I was there as well.
These days, about the only toys we leave our dogs alone with are Kong and Nylabone toys. We have had some literally for years and keep in mind that we have large dogs…Rotties, Pit Bulls, Boxers…that chew relentlessly and these toys have stood the test of time. I highly recommend them. We do have the kinds of toys where we can play tug-o-war, but we play and when we’re done, we take those toys away and give them their favorite Kong or Nylabone. They don’t get to chew on the tug-o-war toys when we’re not around.
So, what to do? Kong and Nylabone…you can’t go wrong. They offer toys in all shapes and sizes. I link to them here and it’ll take you to Amazon but you can also walk into Walmart or Target and buy them as well. A nice mention here is that these are both specifically recommended by the human society as being good chew toys for dogs. You can read more about that here: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/safe-dog-toys
One thing I have noticed about Kong (but not Nylabone) is that when one of the dogs do manage to get a tear or a crack in a Kong, it will then be able to be chewed into small, rubber pieces that, we think, are harmless. It’s actually kind of funny as these Kongs, as I’ve said, can last for years so when one finally does show signs of vulnerability, it becomes a favorite of all the dogs. It’s like they’d been trying and trying to chew it up and never could…and now they go at it with renewed focus.
Here’s a bit about both of these along with some comments regarding our experience.
You’ll find a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors of Kong toys. Obviously, given the intent of this article, the main benefit here is there’s nothing stringy about this toy. It’s hard rubber. Very, very hard rubber and as I’ve mentioned, they have stood the test of time and teeth against some very aggressive chewers.
Notice they have a hole in them…so they aren’t solid rubber through and through. This is a great place to hide treats or, our dogs favorite, peanut butter. Nothing like seeing your friend with that Kong between his paws, trying to lick peanut butter out of there…it’ll keep him busy for quite awhile.
I’m pretty sure Kong started out with the standard…thing…that is shown the the left and it evolved into various sizes and colors. These days Kong also offers a host of other well made products such as frisbees, tennis balls, and squeeky toys, all of which we have used and are happy with.
For bone shaped chew toys, you can’t go wrong with Nylabone. These are some of the longest lasting, durable, and apparently good tasting chew toys you can find. It’s kind of amazing that given the chewing power of our dogs, these things just last and last. They’ll whittle down over the years (and I do mean years) but they just never seem to break down – I don’t think we’ve had a single Nylabone that we have ever had to just throw away. Not once. Now I’m talking about the hard bone toys, not the other ones that Nylabone offers. I’m talking about the chew toys of the type that is pictures to the left.
Like Kong, Nylabone is now offering different types of chew toys so you’ll find more than just the bone shaped one although that is still our favorite. As a side note, along with the Rottie and Pit Bulls…and Boxers…and Labs, we also have a Dachshund and it is nothing short of hilarious to see him (Baron is his name) carrying this huge Nylabone into what we call his Bar-Lair. Baron is a thief at heart and routinely steals these from the other dogs.
A fun “enhancement” to some of these Nylabones is the introduction of the bones with a large knot on one end…I have no idea why, but the dogs love the knots!
The only bad thing I’ll say about these large Nylabones is that when Rusty is on the couch chewing on it, and he drops it on the hardwood floor, it makes a terrible noise. Very loud. It’ll wake you up.
Well that’s about it. Again, I started this article off with a warning and I’ll finish it the same way…chew toys can kill. I’ve seen it happen and it is truly heartbreaking so give a lot of thought and do a lot of research into the types of chew toys you give you dog.