Best Toys for Dogs and Cats

Cat with Chew Toy
Happy Cat with Chew Toy

When purchasing a toy for your dog or cat, you want to find something they will enjoy, but also something that can provide certain health benefits without endangering the animal in any way. There are tons of toys on the market, and some of them don’t fit into any of these categories. But if you look closely at what’s on the shelf, you can find some high-quality toys that are both safe and beneficial for your pet.

While it may seem natural to give your cat or dog real bones to chew on, there are some dangers associated with this. According to Dr. Paul Sedlacek of Animal Clinic of Morris Plains (ACMP), “Real bones can be dangerous for a dog due to the splintering of material which can damage the animal’s digestive tract.” This is especially true of cooked bones, although raw bones can be unsafe as well. To make sure you’re not giving your animal something that could hurt them, it’s best to stay away from any type of real bone you have at home.

Of course, you want your dog or cat to have something to chew on because they do receive some real and lasting benefits from this type of activity. For instance, chewing is the only method dogs have for keeping their teeth clean. While many people also brush their dog’s teeth or bring them in for periodic dental cleanings from a professional, there’s no replacement for chewing as far as a dog’s oral health is concerned.

And the truth is that most dogs are going to chew on something anyway, whether you willingly provide it for them or not. So giving your dog a chew toy may be the best way to keep them from chewing up something much more valuable, like your shoes or the legs of your dining room table.

Cats benefit from chew toys for many of the same reasons dogs do, although your cat is not likely to gnaw the leg off a table or chair. But chewing does help keep a cat’s teeth clean, and it can also contribute to healthier gums, which means better overall oral hygiene as well as better breath. And that’s a benefit for both you and your cat.

So, what kinds of toys are safe for your dog or cat to chew on? Many types of hard plastic toys can be a good choice, especially Kong toys. These are sturdy and will provide hours of healthy entertainment for your pet. And when they do finally break down into small enough pieces to swallow, you won’t have to worry about sharp edges or digestive tract damage. Kong toys are available in all shapes and sizes, so you should have no trouble finding one that’s the appropriate size for your dog or cat.

Dog with safe chew toy
Golden Retriever with Safe Chew Toy

Another good choice when it comes to chew toys for dogs is a Nylabone. These are durable and take a very long time for even the most intense chewers to wear down. They are edible, so you don’t have to worry about your dog swallowing pieces of their Nylabone, although you should buy one that’s the right size for your dog. Just as a chew that’s too large won’t be much fun for a small dog to work on, a chew that’s too small could be potentially hazardous to a larger dog.

All of the above information is in reference to full grown dogs and cats. If you’re interested in getting chew toys for your kitten or puppy, it’s best to consult your vet to find out exactly what would be appropriate for them. Younger animals often don’t have fully developed teeth or digestive systems, and what an older dog or cat may handle with no problem, a younger animal might not be able to.

Whatever you choose, though, it’s definitely a great idea to get your pet something to chew on, whether they’re tending towards destructive behavior or not. Chewing is the most basic way dogs and cats developed to manage their own oral health, and it’s still an excellent option today despite the other options that have come into existence.