10 Unsafe Dog Toys to Avoid

dog playing with unsafe small ball

Toys are more than just playthings for our dogs. They provide mental stimulation, help control destructive behavior, and are an integral part of bonding with our pets. But, not all toys are created equal, and some can even pose a danger to your pooch.

As pet parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure the toys we offer our dogs are not only engaging but also safe. Here are 10 toys that should never make their way into your dog’s paws.

1. Small Balls

While it might seem like a no-brainer, small balls are a common culprit in canine choking incidents. A ball that fits perfectly into your dog’s mouth can easily be swallowed or lodged in their throat. This is particularly true for breeds with wider jaws like Bulldogs or Boxers.

It’s not just tennis balls or rubber balls you need to watch out for. Small, hard plastic balls from children’s toys can also pose a risk. They can splinter into sharp pieces that may injure your dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive system.

A safer alternative is a larger, indestructible ball made specifically for dogs. These balls are designed to withstand vigorous chewing without breaking apart. They’re also too big to swallow, reducing the risk of choking.

2. Stuffed Animals with Plastic Eyes and Noses

Stuffed animals can be a comforting toy for many dogs. However, the ones with plastic eyes and noses can be dangerous. Dogs can easily chew off these small, hard parts and swallow them, leading to choking or intestinal blockage.

Additionally, cheaply made stuffed toys can tear apart easily. This can result in a mess of stuffing that your dog might be tempted to eat, which can also lead to digestive issues.

Instead, opt for durable stuffed toys designed for dogs. These toys often have safety features like reinforced stitching and no small parts. Some even have replaceable squeakers to keep your dog entertained without the risk.

3. Toys with Squeakers

Squeaky toys can provide hours of entertainment for your dog. However, the risk arises when your dog manages to extract the squeaker, which can be a choking hazard. Dogs who are aggressive chewers are particularly at risk.

Moreover, some dogs may become overly obsessed with the squeaking sound, which can lead to anxiety and destructive behavior.

As an alternative, consider toys with hidden or secure squeakers that are more difficult for your dog to remove. You can also opt for toys that make crinkle sounds instead of squeaks to keep your dog entertained safely.

4. Thin, Plastic Toys

Thin, plastic toys can break easily under the pressure of a dog’s bite. When broken, they can produce sharp edges that can cut your dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive tract.

These types of toys can also pose a choking hazard if your dog swallows large pieces. This is especially true for puppies and small breeds who have smaller airways.

Opt for toys made from durable, non-toxic rubber instead. These toys are designed to withstand a dog’s bite and provide safe, long-lasting fun.

5. Rawhide Chews

Rawhide chews might seem like a great way to satisfy your dog’s natural urge to chew. However, they can pose several risks. They can break into large, indigestible pieces that can cause choking or intestinal blockage. Plus, they can be treated with harmful chemicals.

A better alternative would be dental chews specifically designed for dogs. These are made to be digestible, so even if your dog swallows a piece, it won’t pose a blockage risk. Plus, they help clean your dog’s teeth as they chew.

6. Sticks from Trees

Playing fetch with a stick might seem like a classic dog-owner activity, but it’s one that can quickly turn dangerous. Sharp pieces of wood can splinter and become lodged in your dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines, causing serious harm.

Not only are sticks a choking hazard, but they can also cause dental damage. Dogs have strong jaws and love to chew, but gnawing on a hard stick can lead to broken teeth or injuries to the gums. Lastly, if your dog swallows a piece of the stick, it could get stuck in their digestive system, leading to a blockage.

Instead of a stick, consider a toy made from durable rubber or nylon, a tug toy, or a ball or frisbee if they like to fetch.

7. Corn Cobs

Corn cobs might seem like a fun, natural chew toy for your dog, but they can be incredibly dangerous. Like sticks, corn cobs can splinter and become lodged in your dog’s throat or intestines. Corn cobs can quickly become a choking hazard, especially for smaller dogs. Not to mention, corn cobs are not easy for dogs to digest. If your dog swallows a large piece of a corn cob, it could cause a blockage in their digestive system.

Instead of a corn cob, consider a treat-dispensing toy. These toys are designed to hold your dog’s favorite treats, providing them with a fun and engaging challenge.

8. Pig Ears

Pig ears might seem like a tasty treat for your dog, but they can pose several health risks. First, pig ears can be a choking hazard. They’re often too large for small dogs to swallow whole, and if your dog tries to swallow a large piece, it could get stuck in their throat. Additionally, pig ears are high in fat, which can lead to obesity and other health problems if consumed in large quantities. They can also cause digestive upset in some dogs, leading to diarrhea or vomiting.

Pig ears can carry harmful bacteria like Salmonella, which can make both you and your pet sick. Even if the pig ears are labeled as being treated to kill bacteria, there’s still a risk of contamination. Instead of pig ears, consider a dental chew toy.

9. Cooked Bones

While it might seem natural to give a dog a bone, cooked bones are a definite no-no. Cooked bones can easily splinter when chewed, leading to sharp pieces that can injure your dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines.

Like sticks and corn cobs, cooked bones can cause blockages in your dog’s digestive system if swallowed. Cooked bones can also cause dental damage.

Instead of a cooked bone, consider a dental chew toy or a toy made from durable rubber or nylon designed to withstand a dog’s powerful jaws without breaking apart.

10. Childrens Toys

Only give your dog toys designed specifically for dogs. Kids toys are not designed with dogs in mind and can easily break apart when chewed, leading to small pieces that your dog could choke on or swallow.

Many kids toys also have small parts like buttons or batteries that can be very dangerous if swallowed. These parts can cause blockages in your dog’s digestive system, which can be life-threatening and often require surgery to resolve.

Kids toys often have paints or coatings that can be toxic if ingested. Even if the toy is labeled as non-toxic, it’s best to avoid letting your dog play with it.


Choosing safe toys for your dog isn’t just about avoiding a trip to the vet—it’s about ensuring your dog’s happiness and wellbeing. By avoiding dangerous toys and choosing safe alternatives, we can provide our pets with the stimulation and fun they crave, without the risk.

The best toy for your dog will depend on their size, breed, and chewing habits. Always supervise your dog while they’re playing with toys, especially new ones, and regularly inspect toys for any signs of wear and tear. With careful selection and supervision, playtime can be a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and your pet.

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