How to pick a good safe Dog Toy

Dog Toys

  1. SIZE

The first rule of buying any toy for your pet is that the toy must fit the size of the animal you have.

  • Don’t give a large dog a small dog’s toy to play with as choking is a real risk.
  • Equally, don’t give your small dog an edible treat that is made for a large dog. We often see severe pancreatitis from small dogs eating a large fatty treat. Equally we see broken teeth, sore throats  or just painful jaws from small dogs chewing on too big a solid toy for too long.

We believe that toys are something to be given to pets while the owners are still around so that if anything does go wrong, then you are there to fix the problem quickly.

If you do have to go out and leave your dog with a toy, then pick one of the higher end tough and durable toys from: Kong Extreme Black Range of Toys appropriate for the size of your dog.


            Aussie Dog Products such as their (tested on Polar Bears) Staffie Balls.

These 2 products above are great for Giant Breeds like Mastiffs, tough Staffie and Bulldog breeds and small dogs like Dachshunds (who truly believe they are a Great Dane most days).

The Nylabone Durabone : we prefer owners to always be around when dogs chewing any bone of any type so this one is also best kept for when you are home.


Some of the Kong toys allow you to fill with food treats. Dry food, liver treats etc. are fine to go in there. We don’t like the pastes that get squeezed into the toy. A dog’s tongue can get trapped in some toys and the paste really encourages the dog to push their tongue deep inside the toy and do so many times- this is a recipe for a sore tongue and possibly a trapped tongue, the latter can be fatal.  Since 2017, many peanut butters now have xylitol in them, which is toxic to dogs so please now avoid peanut butters as a treat for your dog.

  • Please Do Not give to Boxers and snub-nosed dogs as these breeds can choke on the balls.

The Veterinary Dentists Hate tennis balls as the material collects grit with the end effect is like sandpaper on the enamel of the teeth.

If your dog likes tennis balls, make sure you regularly rinse them well in vinegar and water to stop the grit building up.

  • Don’t use the Supersized extra-large tennis balls. We see dogs who end up with the front of their lips, nose, and chin worn raw from the material rubbing away at their face.

In summary: Tennis balls under supervision, kept clean and not for Boxer-like breeds.

For more information on toxic toys for these breeds, read our Dangerous Toys article on our website under Dr Aine’s Blog


Dogs love chasing thrown sticks. However, vets see some very nasty and very expensive injuries, especially in the larger dogs where the dog has run onto the stick as it pounces to retrieve the stick. The stick stabs the dog and leaves a major wound at the back of the throat, the wood also snaps off into hundreds of splinters that may track around inside the dog’s mouth and neck causing major problems for many weeks.

Please use one of the many new styles of throwing sticks from Kong; these sticks vary from, rope-like safety stick throws or the harder chewable floatable squeeze sticks.


Thumb-pressure test any chew toy you buy for your dog.

This is to see if you can get the toy to give ever so slightly, as it will be less likely to break a tooth if there is some give in the material. Goat horn, deer antler and calf hooves are too hard and crack teeth.


The only exception to that hard thumb test rule would probably be making super-sized ice block balls for your dog to play with on a hot Aussie summer.  Old large ice-cream containers or other cylinders filled with water and frozen overnight make a great cheap cooling chew treat for dogs when tipped out onto the grass.

Most dogs are smart enough not to crack down on the ball or block when first tipped out of the container onto the grass, they usually lap the square blocks or roll the round frozen balls around until they start to melt. If your dog however only wants to try and crack the block, then this toy is not for them.

I prefer not to put edible treats into the block to freeze overnight, as this just encourages the dog to persist in trying to crack the block open to get at the food.

My Favourite Toy in recent years has been the almost indestructible Aussie Staffie Ball.  Our Nurse’s dog is featured below playing with his ball. The Aussie Staffie Ball is tested on zoo animals like Bears etc. and is well worth the money.                

tyson-ball2 tyson-ball3

Dangerous Toys

This pink pig is an example of a dangerous toy as it has the potential to choke a dog.

Examples of Toys that can trap jaws/tongue etc in photo below and in link provided