There are many choices of pet toys on the market today. The choice can be overwhelming for most pet parents. Most pet stores offer hundreds of possibilities, generally priced from a dollar or two up to as much as twenty dollars. Almost all pet toys are made overseas, often in China. There are even “organically” made pet toys available these days.
Millions of pet parents purchase new pet toys each year, and many of these are purchased as gifts for the holidays. Pet parents love to include their pets in their family holiday traditions and many people give gifts to pets that belong to friends, neighbors, relatives and even co-workers. Before making those purchases this year, please consider the “Art and Science” of Buying a Pet Toy!
First of all, consider the size of your pet. Too many people purchase pet toys without thinking about size. If you buy a dog toy that is too large, your pet will find it too cumbersome to play with and soon become bored. If the toy is too small, it could become a choking hazard. With any new toy, always supervise your pet and watch to make sure they play in a responsible and safe manner. When in doubt, throw it out!
Second consideration involves your pet’s chewing habits. This is especially true with dogs, but cats and small animals can chew things that they shouldn’t as well. Ask yourself “What type of chewer is my pet?” Dogs that love to chew can destroy a stuffed fabric toy in just seconds. Not only can this become dangerous, but it certainly does not give you any value for your money. It is important to select toys that are matched to a pet’s level of “chew”. Many toys are available that can withstand a stronger chewer, and even though they cost more money, if you replace them less often, they still present a value to the purchaser. Some dogs can chew through almost anything, so keep a realistic approach when considering this type of dog.
Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and other small animals can benefit greatly by having having chew toys and treats to help overcome cage boredom. Their teeth also benefit from this chewing. Make sure the toys or treats are made for small animals, and dispose of them if you suspect that they could present a risk, such as if a toy becomes ‘un-wound”
The third major consideration is to ask yourself what type of “play” that your pet enjoys. If you have a dog that enjoys a “tug of war” type of play, then choosing a rope toy with a ball attached or a large rubber loop might work best. Make sure that you purchase a toy that provides some “finger insurance” which means that there is sufficient room for you to hold on, but safely far enough from your pet’s mouth to avoid any mishaps!
For dogs that prefer to “fetch”, a ball or flying disc type toy might be best. If a ball is part of this type toy, it can offer the “bounce factor’, making it more fun when the ball lands and bounces until your pet catches it.
Some dogs prefer to carry their “prey” around, making squeezable rubber or latex toys that can be held in their mouth into a better choice. Make sure the correct size is chosen. Many dogs love to squeeze and squeak, so consider the “squeeze-ability” of a latex toy that makes sounds. Avoid buying any toy that can easily be chewed through and allow the squeaker to become a choke hazard.
Cats love to hunt and bat their “prey”. Climbing and stalking are natural instincts, as is scratching. Take your cat’s favorite activities into account when purchasing a new toy. A cat that loves to hide and then pounce would prefer a toy that you move, such as a toy on a string that you can pull along or lift.
Some experts believe that there is a gene that determines how a cat will react to catnip. Some cats get crazy and display an almost “drunken” demeanor when playing with catnip toys. Other cats can pay no mind and just take a nap. Either way, both reactions can be normal depending on genetics!
As a final thought on pet toys, pet parents can help eliminate boredom and enhance their pets quality of life by their choice of toys. Always remember that it is cheaper to replace a toy than to replace your furniture! By introducing new styles, colors and action features, toys can offer great levels of Pet Appeal! This holiday season, in addition to adding some new, well thought out toys for your pet, why not “experiment’ with a tug toy for your dog that likes to fetch, or some other variation from your norm – you may have to show them how to play a new game, but you can teach an older dog new tricks with a little effort, a new toy and a little love!