To all us dog folks who have ever wondered what to get to pacify and occupy our dogs, this post is to try to educate you on what NOT to give to your dog. We all look for fun toys and chews to treat our pet, and are unaware of some of the dangers these items impose.
To start off, I always tell people to stay away from raw hide chews, especially with larger breed dogs. There are at least 2 reasons I don't like rawhide. The first is that dogs see rawhide (which come in bones, rolls, bows, braids, candy canes, etc...) as a food item. As they consume the pieces of the hide, these pieces are NOT digestible, and they end up absorbing stomach fluids and swelling in the stomach and intestine, in many cases causing a blockage that can only be removed through surgery. The second issue with rawhide is that in many instances the manufacturer treats the hide with formaldehyde, or similar treatment, as a preservative. Do you really want your dog to consume this? I know I wouldn't.
Another popular chew is the Nylabone. I always promote the PLASTIC version of the Nylabone, however there is also an edible variety. The edible variety is NOT recommended. What I have seen happen with my own dogs is that they chew and crunch on these, and the little knobby ends of the bones come off in large round pieces, and end up sitting in the dogs stomach, until they later vomit the pieces back up. Not pleasant, and something that could also pose a blockage hazard.
On to toys now. A very common toy to see is most pups toy box is the ever popular rope toy. Who would ever think that these could actually KILL your dog. Rope toys are fun to play with, and O.K providing you are supervising the time with the toy. Here is a true story of why they can be bad... There was a person who had a Border Collie who was in love with rope toy, always carried it around in it's mouth, loved to play tug, etc. One day the owner of the dog came home and found the dog dead on the floor of their home. Beings that the dog was only 2-3 years of age the owners were convinced the neighbor poisoned the dog or something, so they had an autopsy done on the dog. What they found was a total shock. What had happened, was the dog had a habit of pulling and chewing off little end pieces of the rope, (the fringe on the end) and unraveled the rope and had swallowed the little pieces. Well, those pieces went into the stomach and passed through to the intestine, where some of the pieces lodged and got twisted up in the intestine, completely cutting through and severing the intestine. This is why I say if you ever see your dog chewing on rope toys and pulling the little strings off... TAKE IT AWAY!!
One other thing to be careful of is squeaky toys. Most are fine and good and safe, but if you have dogs that like to KILL squeakies, like mine do, you just have to be careful they don't eat all the stuffing (which causes blockage) or the squeaker itself...
Be Careful of any toy that your dog can tear, break and swallow pieces of. Sometimes we think we will just get the cheep fun rubber toy from the $1 bin at Walmart or something, but better to get a durable safe toy for a little (or a lot) more, than to pay a hefty vet surgery bill, or have to lose you pet over the item.