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Dangerous Toys for Pets

Posted in Client Service @ Mar 9th 2016 - By Dr Alex Hynes, BVSc (Hons) MVS MANZCVS (Emergency and Critical Care), Director, AES
Dangerous Toys For Pets

As you know, not all pet toys are equal - in fact some are just dangerous.

Dr Alex Hynes explains which toys are best and which should be avoided.

We adore our furry friends and want to give them treats and toys to keep them happy and occupied. However, you may be surprised to know some every day toys can actually be harmful to our beloved pets. Injuries from pet toys are a common presentation to an emergency veterinary hospital.

Here are some common toys to avoid and keep you out of the emergency room.


An old classic and very tempting to use, as it is free and also you don’t have to carry it home, however some of the most serious injuries we see come from sticks. The most serious dangers are dogs running at speed and impaling themselves through the back of the throat or parts of the stick snapping off inside and it needing to be surgically removed. You may not even notice at the time being caught up in the excitement of play, but if your dog is drooling heavily later and refusing to eat, you should seek help immediately.


They seem harmless enough but in dogs, the pharynx is the widest part of the gastrointestinal tract which means they can swallow objects far larger than they will ever be able to move through their gut. Small balls like the rubber bouncy ones can be swallowed easily and get stuck, especially by larger dogs. Even tennis balls can get stuck at the back of the throat if moving at speed, this can cut off their air supply and they could suffocate.


A cat playing with string is ageless, but it may not be such a perfect match after all. Cats being hunters love to chase a piece of string pretending it is prey but they can get carried away and swallow the entire length. If veterinary attention is not sought immediately this can cause a gut obstruction called a linear foreign body becomes a surgical emergency.

Soft Toys

Dogs love the comfort of a soft toy however they should only be given to them for short periods of time and only when supervised, as they tend to rip them to pieces which could result in items being swallowed. Especially watch out for the soft toys with a squeaker inside as dogs get the urge to find the noisemaker and eat it, often within seconds.

Don’t worry, it isn’t all doom and gloom, there are some toys that are perfectly safe and good for your dog. I would recommend distraction toys like Kongs and puzzle toys where food is hidden in compartments and also any tough rubber toy. 

About Alex

Dr Alex Hynes is a Veterinary Surgeon and Director at Animal Emergency Service who provide after hours emergency veterinary care for pets & wildlife. Dr Alex is a local public figure passionate about educating pet owners and dedicated to advancing emergency and critical care in veterinary medicine, so that sick and injured animals can have the care they need at any time of day or night.

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