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How to choose the perfect dog or cat chew toy

How to choose the perfect dog or cat chew toy

Although our trusted companions are like us in many ways, some of their habits and needs are slightly different from our own. They may love to play and socialize like us humans, but unlike us, it’s also normal for dogs and cats to have the desire to chew.

So how can we pet parents help them fulfill this natural behaviour?

With the perfect dog or cat chew toy of course!

In this article we’ll explain how to choose the perfect chew toy for your trusted companion by covering the points below:

  • Why chew toys are important.
  • Factors affecting the choice of toy.
  • Safety issues surrounding chew toys for dogs and cats.
  • Veterinary professional recommendations regarding chew toys.
  • Examples of suitable chew toys for dogs and cats for specific purposes.

So, let’s get started!

Please note, this article is just intended to help you choose the perfect chew toy for your trusted companion’s physiological chewing. This means we won’t explore unwanted chewing behaviour for example related to separation anxiety, boredom, pica, or hunger.

How to pick the best chew toy for my dog or cat

Aside from providing enrichment, and stimulation for your pet, chew toys can be helpful for pet parents too. For example, some chew toys are specially designed to help clean your trusted companion’s teeth and reduce the risk of dental disease. On a less serious note, the perfect chew toy can be a distraction from your trusted companion chewing on your favorite shoes!

With so many different chew toys to choose from, it could be difficult to know how to make the right choice. In this section, we’ll go through some points it could be helpful to think about when you’re making your choice.

Safety vs durability: what’s the best chew toy for dogs or cats

The size of your trusted companion and the strength of their jaw and teeth, influence the type of chew toy that’s suitable for them.

The idea is to provide something that’s firm enough to give satisfaction when chewed without damaging their mouth, but not too soft as to break into small pieces which could then be swallowed and cause gastrointestinal problems later on.

Below, we’ve listed a few points regarding safety and chew toys:

  • Give species-specific toys to chew - avoid giving toys designed for human babies to your pets to chew with, as they could be an inappropriate size, or contain materials, chemicals, or small pieces which are unsafe for dogs or cats.
  • Chew toys and treats – some chew toys are made so that pet parents can hide treats inside. Rewarding your pet with treats in their chew toy is especially nice, just make sure it doesn’t distract them from their mealtimes or give too many extra calories.
  • Replace chew toys before they break or become too worn - although you can expect a chew toy to be durable to a certain extent, it won’t last forever. Frequent replacement helps decrease the risk of accidental ingestion of broken pieces and resulting damage to your pet’s gastrointestinal system.
  • Be aware that chew toys can be a choking hazard – according to the pet food manufacturer Hills, anything which can fit behind your dog’s back teeth could be a choking hazard.
  • Supervise your pets whilst they’re chewing – not only is it nice to watch your trusted companion enjoying their chew toy, but it’s also good to be around in case you need to step in.
  • Quality over price – chew toys are items that are worth investing in. Be sure to buy good quality toys over cheaper ones to decrease the risk of them breaking or containing harmful materials.
  • Don’t leave chew toys outside – exposure to sunlight can make toys softer and more easily broken. This can lead to the ingestion of small pieces and gastrointestinal problems later on.

Usually, the durability of a chew toy also relates to your trusted companion’s age, we’ll talk about this in the next section.

Age: are there different chew toys for puppies vs dogs and kittens vs cats

As our trusted companions age, their needs in terms of chew toys also change. A puppy or kitten’s mouth is more sensitive than an adult dog’s or cat’s. This means that they need softer and smaller chew toys to avoid damaging their mouth.

Between the age of 4 to 6 months, adult teeth replace a puppy’s baby teeth. This strange new feeling means a puppy is particularly keen on chewing during this time.

Similarly, kittens lose their baby teeth around 3 months but compared to puppies, they’re probably less likely to go on a chewing rampage! There is a range of chew toys designed specifically for puppies and kittens.

Similarly, kitten or puppy toys most likely won’t be tough or stimulating enough for older dogs or cats. This means they can become broken easily and be a risk to your pet.

Many pet toy brands even provide size and age guides for their chew toys. This is great news because it means these toys have been specially designed with your trusted companion’s age and size in mind and makes your job a little easier.

Your pet’s age most likely influences their personality and activity level. Let’s have a look at how personality can influence your trusted companion’s perfect chew toy.

Personality: what’s the most interesting chew toy for your dog or cat

It can be pretty frustrating when you give your trusted companion a toy and they are completely uninterested in it. Our pets are a little different from us in this way, they won’t pretend to like a gift in the same way we humans do sometimes!

When it comes to your dog or cat’s personality and choosing their perfect chew toy think about:

  • Do they enjoy toys that make a sound or are they more the quiet type?
  • Would they prefer a completely edible chew toy or one that gives a treat as a reward?
  • Would they prefer a toy that can involve human interaction, or do they like to play alone?
  • Is your pet cooperative when it comes to brushing their teeth or do you want to give them a chew toy that helps clean their teeth?

Remember, chewing is usually a natural and healthy behaviour that pet parents can facilitate to help keep their trusted companion happy. There are always risks for any product you give to your pet, the important thing is to minimize risks by making informed decisions.

What are veterinary recommendations regarding chew toys?

Dogs often enjoy chewing on bones and rawhide. But is it safe for them?

It might break your dog’s heart, but comprressed rawhide, bones, and antlers are probably more of a risk to dogs than a benefit. These materials are often too tough and can cause broken teeth, injuries to the gums, or even get stuck and damage the gastrointestinal tract.

In general, it’s good to remember that any chew that can’t be bent in your hands, or comfortably slapped against your kneecap, is hard enough to break your pet’s teeth.

Chew toys for cats might be a lesser well-known topic, but it doesn’t mean that cat chew toys are risk-free.  Chew toys involving string can be particularly problematic and are known for causing life-threatening gastrointestinal problems in cats.

Aside from our pet’s health, chew toys can be a risk to human health, too. Bones, rawhide, and other edible chews are both a perfect source of harmful bacteria. To reduce the chances of becoming unwell, give your pet non-biological chew toys and always wash your hands after touching your pet or any of their belongings.

Chew toys for dogs

Below we’ve given some examples of different chew toys according to some of the points we discussed earlier:

Chew toys for cats

Here are some examples of chew toys for cats taking into consideration some of the factors we discussed earlier:

Conclusion: How to choose the perfect dog or cat chew toy

Now you’ve read this article, you know everything you need to know to choose the perfect chew toy for your trusted companion.

Does your cat or dog love to chew everything?

With our Lifetime Protection Membership, you can access veterinary professionals anytime by phone, email or live chat so if your cat or dog chews something potentially harmful, you can get the advice you need to make a quick decision.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, look at our other articles about pet toys:


The information provided and contained herein are the opinions of Pethealth Services Inc. which are based on external publication. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Pethealth Services Inc. assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss, claims or damages arising out of the within content.

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