Playtime for your pet is not just fun and games. It is also important to the animal’s overall well-being. There are plenty of pet toys to choose from so your four-legged friend—and you—can experience hours of enjoyment.
There are basically two pet toy categories: interactive toys that you use to play together with your pet, and pet-driven toys that are safe enough to leave your fur baby alone with.
For dogs, good interactive toys are sturdy rubber balls, soft Frisbees, rope toys with knotted ends, and tennis balls for playing fetch. However, don’t let your dog chew on tennis balls! Most importantly, pet-driven toys are especially important if your dog is left alone a large part of the day, but before you do, always watch the dog play with a new toy for a while first so you can check for any dangers that might arise. Food-dispensing toys are good choices, as long as you’re sure your dog can play safely with them.
Kong-type toys that can be filled with treats, peanut butter, or cheese will keep a dog busy since the most persistent dog will get only small bits of the food at a time. Busy-box toys are also good pet-driven choices. The toy dispenses a piece of food as the dog pushes it around the floor. You can also make your own toys; for example, use an old muffin tin and put one small treat in each cup. Then cover each one with a small ball or another toy. Your dog will lift out each ball to take a treat. This game is over fast, but it seems to delight most dogs.
Some dogs like soft stuffed toys to carry around or shake as if they were attacking prey. But if your dog is a persistent chewer who likes to pull the stuffing out of his toys, make sure you choose brands that are especially tough and use “chew-guard technology” or just choose the ones without stuffing. On the home front, items like an old t-shirt, pillowcase, towel, or blanket that hasn’t been washed can offer comfort to a dog since it smells like you and his family. Just know that your dog might love that piece of clothing so much that it gets ruined.
There are three different kinds of toys for felines:
These toys don’t have to be expensive or complicated. Interactive toy ideas include sticking one end of a bathrobe sash in your pocket and dragging the other end around behind you as you fix dinner. Wadded-up pieces of paper that they chase around the floor can also be very entertaining. Or try throwing a small ball up a flight of stairs so your cat can chase it and bat it back to you at the bottom.
When you are not around, there are food-dispensing toys for cats as well. Other good choices are a ping pong ball in a dry bath tub; a plastic shower curtain ring either left on the floor to bat around or linked together and hung in an engaging play area; and paper bags without handles.
Just as with young children, it’s a good idea to rotate all pets’ toys so they are not playing with the same ones every day. It doesn’t mean you have to buy them tons of toys. It’s just a matter of putting some away for a while and then reintroducing them. Then it’s like a whole new toy.
What to Avoid
Stay away from toys that are easily chewed-up and swallowed, or that can develop sharp corners when chewed. Also, don’t leave string toys around when a cat is left alone since the string can be ingested.
Some other potential hazards for both cats and dogs include:
Sticks and bones—they can splinter and cause choking or puncture the mouth, throat, or intestine. Also, hard bones are damaging to teeth.
Strings, ribbons, rubber bands, small children’s toys, socks and other small clothing, plastic milk-jug rings, paper clips, pins, needles, dental floss—anything that can be ingested.
Toys with glued-on or easily removed eyes, nose, wings, and other features that can be ingested. Decorations should be sown on.
Head on over to Lebanon Feed & Supply for all your pet present needs!