Pet gifts: The safety edition

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Pet gifts: The safety edition - Vetster

With the holiday season upon us, we’ve all been working on our shopping list for purr-fect gift ideas for our pets. Many pet parents put their beloved fur babies at the top of their list when searching for the perfect gift.

While gift-givers have good intentions, sometimes, we inadvertently buy gifts that could be detrimental to our pet's health. With such a wide range of awesome gift ideas, animal lovers will have lots to choose from when it comes to finding the perfect gifts for pets. Whether shopping in-store or online, it is crucial to be sure your pet’s toys are 100% safe. For peace of mind, follow our gift guide and safety tips for the perfect gift for your furry friends!

Pet toys and gift safety

Supervising your pet with any toy is critical. Once the toy is destroyed or torn apart, take it away. Use the same rule of thumb with your pets and their toys that you would with a baby. If a toy is too small or is attached to a small object that can come off and become lodged in your pet’s throat, opt for something safer and always supervise.

Ensure the toy or object for your pet is the appropriate size. If the toy is too large for your small dog, it may be difficult to play with or too heavy to carry and run with. Also, for large dogs, a small toy or bone may be a choking hazard. This also applies to cat trees and toys. Keep climbing towers at a reasonable height suitable for your kitten and home.

Here are some guidelines to follow to keep your pets safe with the amazing gifts and toys you’re giving them this holiday season.

A dog’s holiday gift guide: Bones vs. chew toys

When it comes to gifts for dogs, giant bones may come to mind, but they can be too tough on your dog’s teeth and not ideal for safe play. Opt for a gentler, safer dental chew toy. Bones can potentially get stuck around a dog’s jaw or between their teeth, break teeth, or cause life-threatening damage to the intestinal tract. “Bones are one of the most common causes of broken teeth,” says Vetster Medical Consultant Dr. Jo Meyers, which are painful and expensive to fix. Go for softer toys designed specifically for safe dental chewing to keep playtime safe. The same goes for cats and kittens. Be careful of any chewable toy that causes more harm than joy and stimulation.

Are pet gifts with ribbons, buttons, batteries, and zips a good idea?

Plush animal dog toys are a go-to for many pet owners. When purchasing toys for your dogs, ensure you choose something that doesn't pose a choking hazard or include items that are potentially dangerous when swallowed. Ingesting fabric, stuffing, plastic, buttons, batteries, zippers, or ribbons etc. can lead to intestinal blockages and a host of other issues. GI obstruction is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in younger pets. Even though they’re small and flexible, strings and ribbons also pose a serious threat for GI obstruction because of the way the intestines tend to bunch up around them while trying to pass them through. Cats are especially at risk for swallowing strings, because the backwards facing barbs on their tongues push string down even when the cat is trying to spit it out.

Beware of battery-operated pet toys, especially if your pet is unsupervised. In addition to a choking hazard, alkaline batteries can leak if fractured and burn your pet's mouth, esophagus, or stomach. Toys with magnets are also potentially dangerous because of the way multiple magnets will stick to each other when swallowed, even through the intestinal or stomach wall.

Pet look-a-likes are not ideal

Sure, you might love a toy twin of your pet, but it might not be the ideal gift. Your pet might not be too thrilled about it. Giving an iguana look-alike toy to your lizard or gecko pet might just lead to anxiety and aggression. Try soft toys, perches, and drapes, which lizards love to hang off of. Many different types of pets may find realistic-looking toys threatening or alarming.

Holiday precautions

The holidays are a time for generosity and generosity of spirit. Keeping our pets safe is always top of mind. Check out our post on holiday table scraps when deciding whether to share your holiday feast with your favorite fur baby.

Whether you’re at home or traveling this holiday season, if you think your pet may require veterinary care, book an online virtual care appointment with Vetster, to ensure your pet’s safety over the holidays.

We wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!

FAQ - Holiday gifts and toys for your pets

Should I be concerned that my dog swallowed part of a chew toy?

When animals cannot digest what they have swallowed, health issues can occur. Sometimes nothing happens, but an upset stomach with mild, temporary vomiting and/or diarrhea can result any time a pet eats something unusual. It’s common for pets (especially dogs) to spontaneously throw up a part of a chew toy that’s been swallowed. Large foreign bodies can cause a gastrointestinal blockage. Other toy parts can be hazardous if they contain toxins like zinc or battery acid.

Are laser toys safe for pets?

With proper use, laser toys can help cats exercise and stay healthy. However, if you shine the laser directly in your pet’s eye, you can harm your cat’s vision. This can be a great gift if used correctly.

Laser Toy Tips

  • Use low-wattage lights with a maximum power output of 5 milliwatts
  • Never shine the laser directly in your cat's eye
  • Store this toy in a secure spot where your pets can't reach it

Are synthetic dog bones or chews safe for my dog?

Synthetic dog bones or chews are safe for dogs if they are flexible and soft. Supervise your pet during chewing so you can make sure they’re not actually ingesting the plastic, and remember that hard chew toys are more likely to break teeth. Knotted rope bones can be a safe option, but throw them away once they become stringy. Smaller strings present entanglement hazards as well as a potential for GI obstruction if swallowed. As a pet lover, keep an eye on your pet’s toys, so you know when they wear and are ready to be replaced.