Pet toy safety

I’ve had a few requests come in lately for topics, thank you everyone for helping and being a muse, it really helps. It can be tough to come up with new, topical and interesting takes on pets, every bit of assistance helps.

Tragically, one such request comes from the loss of a beloved pet through an accident that could happen to anyone.

Jenn Black, of Jenn’s Furry Friends Rescue recently lost one of the dogs she adopted permanently. You may recognize the name from some of my earlier columns, Jenn has a huge heart and was the one who sought us out to take in Leia, our Frenchie rescue. She sought us out, knowing we knew what Frenchies need in special care, having had one. She knew that, at that time, we had just lost our Stitch, and thought we’d be the perfect home for Leia. She was right, Leia, despite all of her health challenges, has been the perfect dog for Jackie, and a valuable member of our family.

Jenn does this with many animals, many of which regular rescues might not want, or couldn’t take. She has bunnies, kittens and dogs looking for homes, check her facebook page or website to see if there is anything you can currently help with. Right now they are fundraising for Gordon, who has bone cancer in his leg, requiring surgery and chemo.

Jenn had received a dog into rescue a while back that was a very special case. Bohdi was an English Bulldog that had suffered from “puppy swimmer syndrome” early on, and while the breeder had tried to fix the issue, they had done so improperly, causing the front legs to fuse. This made just walking an adventure, and Bohdi never made it to the adoption process, he became part of Jenn’s menagerie of misfits and a favourite of her kids.

From Jenn’s Facebook page: I am beyond devastated posting this but I want people to not make the same mistake we did. Bodhi died this evening after a rubber ball he was gifted became lodged in his throat. By the time I found him he was no longer breathing and limp. I tried so hard, for so long to get the ball out but it was lodged so far back a with his small jaw and the suction it made it impossible to get out. I had bought them all bones tonight and got him a brand new harness as they all had a vet appt tomorrow. I’m so sorry Bodhi. Me, your girls and your boy will miss you

It is something we try to emphasize with consumable items, like bones, that we size the item appropriately for the pet, to prevent an accidental choking incident, and that any consumable item is only enjoyed while the pet is supervised, in case an incident does happen, especially with puppies, who, like children, often do not know what is or is not a choking hazard, and will try to swallow inappropriately sized objects.

In this case, it was an unfortunate incident where a rubber ball was able to be collapsed and swallowed. Hollow rubber balls are lighter, cheaper, easier to throw and many dogs prefer the way they can grip them, so they are the most popular type of ball. Some are a softer texture than others, and some are more easily collapsed into a choking hazard sized item. So, when first introducing a new toy to your pet, watch how they interact with it. Make sure they don’t take it fully in their mouth and compress it. Sometimes the texture of the material it is made of just makes that enjoyable for the pet, but that is a clear sign that an accident could happen if the dog accidentally inhales at that moment, or should trip while running with it in that position in its mouth.

Other items can be chewed or gnawed to a point where they are hazardous. Once they are reduced to a dangerous size, they should be removed from the pet and either given to a pet who can play with it appropriately (I have many clients that “hand me down” chews) or disposed of. One exception is Himalayan Yak Cheese chews, which when they become too small for the dog to enjoy safely can be busted into shards and nuked in the microwave, much like a chicharron (bacon rind), to make delicious little puffed treats.

Selecting toys and treats for our pets is every bit as important as choosing toys for our children. It can be even harder, as baby toys are often rated and sized based on age, something that cannot be done for puppies. Every 6 month old baby is about the same size, but six month old puppies can range from one pound to a hundred pounds or more. It is up to us to be the safety lookout for our pets.

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