The holidays are upon us, and, if you are anything like me, your dogs will be receiving holiday gifts too. (It isn’t just me that does this, right??). But before you order that really cute squeaky toy for your pit bull, or that yummy meat bone fo

r your old lab, give some thought to what the best toys actually would be for your particular dog.

The type of toy you purchase must reflect your dog’s age, size, and breeding. The pressure from a dog’s jaw can be close to 450 pounds per square inch (depending on the size and breed of dog), so the toy you give your German Shepherd will be very different from what you give your little Yorkie. If you happen to have a multiple dog household and the dogs vary in size and weight, you need to be even more careful so that your large dog doesn’t get a hold of a toy meant for your small dog, which the large dog could easily swallow.

For all dogs, stay away from old shoes and socks. These items smell like you and your dog can’t be expected to know the difference between an old shoe and your new pair. Additionally, veterinarians will tell you how often they must surgically remove personal items from dogs’ gastrointestinal tract. Don’t encourage your dog to chew on any of your personal items.

Along the same lines, check out your yard and play areas for things that your dog might turn into a chew toy. Dogs often have a tendency to chew on things such as rocks, sticks, and plants and these can easily be swallowed too.

Many dogs love a squeaky toy. If you have a tiny little dog, you may get away with a latex toy, but larger dogs can easily rip these apart and ingest the parts. Fleece type squeak toys are also popular with many dogs, but again, if your dog tends to rip them apart within minutes, these might not be the best choice as your dog could swallow the squeaker and/or stuffing. There are some toys that crinkle instead of squeak and others that are made without filling, so options exist depending on your dog’s preference and play style.

A good choice in a toy is an indestructible one. Pick one that is big enough that your dog can’t swallow it. Many of the hard rubber toys are hollow or have a space that can be stuffed with dog food or treats, turning the toy into a “food puzzle”. The toy should also be resistant to your dog’s personal chewing habits and play style. Safe toys must also be void of any parts that can break off and be swallowed.

Whatever toys your dog may have, be sure to remove them once they crack, fray, or otherwise start to come apart. Also, pay attention to your dog. Older dogs may have bad teeth or gum disease and may have trouble grasping toys or chewing hard bones may hurt.

If your dog does ingest a toy, see your veterinarian immediately. Signs that your dog might have swallowed a foreign object include vomiting, lack of appetite, and belly pain or discomfort, as well as retching, or excessive salivation, especially if lodged in the esophagus. The sooner you get your dog to the vet, the greater the likelihood of a favorable outcome. Don’t let your dog become a statistic.