Broken Toys Minefield

March 31, 2017

Toys are a dog’s best friend right? While at the height of their squeaky, bouncy life there is no doubt about the importance of a good dog toy, however, did you know that lurking behind every tennis ball is the threat of serious sickens? We take a look at how to keep your pet safe from the broken toy minefield.

For most dogs, the sight of 10 or more half chewed toys strewn across the lawn is the common backyard spectacle. To be honest, most owners would only ever pick up their pets’ toys during a fun game of fetch or when the most pungent of rubber and rope makes its way inside and onto the couch!

However, did you know that hundreds of dogs have toys (and parts of toys) extracted from their intestinal tract on a daily basis? Yes, just like cooked bones, broken toys can wreak a huge amount of havoc for an unsuspecting a playful pooch. The scariest consideration is that rubber and plastic can be almost impossible to pick up on x-ray. Meaning for your veterinarian, finding the cause of their illness can be a very tricky procedure indeed. Ingested toys can cause serious illness in dogs that can lead to death from blockages or choking.

More worryingly, rubber and flexible plastic can also act as a valve. Meaning it will cause a blockage one minute, leading to illness, and then flip to release only to block up days later. This inconsistency in symptoms can leave you scratching your head over what is causing the problem.

But never fear, with some simple tips you can help prevent this event from occurring, which is a good thing when you consider that foreign body removals can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $12,000! OUCH!

  1. Daily Check – check your toys every day. Better still; get into the habit of rotating five of your dog’s toys on a daily basis. When you collect the toys at the end of each day (or before you throw out the next five), take a good look at each toy and assess if it needs to be tossed.
  2. BIN BIN BIN – if in doubt CHUCK IT OUT. Throw away any damaged toys or ones which have been chewed into pieces, regardless of their sentimental value. A dog should not be allowed access to chewed tennis balls or ripped rubber toys.
  3. Right Size – only purchase toys that are the correct size for your dog. If you have any puppy sized toys laying around, now is a good time to remove these toys from your dog’s collection.

EXPERT COMMENT: DR Merrin Hicks, BVSc (Hons) MVSc FANZCVS, Emergency and Critical Care Specialist, The Animal Referral Hospital

“Any small toys, especially rubber toys, broken toys, stuffed toys or small parts can pose a major risk to dogs (and sometimes cats). Pets will often play with, chew and swallow these items which can lead to life- threatening intestinal blockage.

“If a blockage occurs, vomiting and loss of appetite will usually be the first sign. X-rays, endoscopy, ultrasound and emergency surgery are commonly performed at our hospital in such cases.”

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