A Safe Toy or A Lump of Coal?

If you’re a regular reader at Paws n’ Think, you probably give your pet toys at Christmas (and lots of other times too!)  We’ve all heard about regulations and recalls for children’s toys, but there are unfortunately no regulations in place for the toys sold for pets.  Once again, it is up to you to read the labels and decide whether a toy is safe for your pet

I’ve found that the country of origin is one indicator that a toy may or may not be safe.  A certain cat toy sold in a pet store chain is a small fuzzy ball with metallic threads that my Buddy loved to chew on.  Then I found some of the metallic threads in the waste as I was scooping out the cat box!  I went back to the store, and sure enough the package said “materials may be harmful if ingested,”  and sure enough it was made in a large country in Asia.  On the positive side, many U.S. companies take great pride and care in ensuring that their toys are safe.  These toys tend to be more expensive (but not as expensive as a visit to the vet) but they also tend to last longer.  Several U.S. companies also comply voluntarily with the guidelines for child safe toys, banning designs and ingredients that could be harmful, and a few companies even subscribe themselves to organic standards.  There are several websites which can refer you to manufacturers who care about your pet’s safety.

Once you’ve determined that the toy is safe, the next question is, will it be used?  Pets’ reactions to toys are as individual as the pets.  Buddy loves the green and brown Chick-A-Dee chirping bird that has an opening for catnip (in fact, he throws it around the bed in the early morning as alarm for lazy humans!).  Little John likes that toy when it has fresh catnip but otherwise prefers his own blue birdie with motion-activated flashing blue lights and electronic sound.  Your pet may not react immediately to the new toy; don’t throw it out.  Leave it around for a while; when it smells like the rest of the things in the house he may become interested.  If it is a cat toy, try initiating the fun by rubbing some fresh catnip on it.  Dogs have preferred toys too, and may not be interested in sharing them with other pets in the house or even with you!  But having a stash of toys and rotating them keeps your pet interested and active.

There are two kinds of interactive toys: toys that operate on batteries and interact with the animal, and toys which are for you to interact with your pet.  At first glance it may seem like laziness to use a battery operated toy, but it is a good thing to have if you work long shifts or must be away for a whole day.  The people-pet interactive toys are not only good exercise, they promote bonding.  After all, you have a cat or dog for companionship; the enjoyment of the relationship shouldn’t all be in one direction!

So shop away for Rex of Fluffy’s Christmas present, but as always, READ THE LABELS!   Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

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