Unsafe Dog Toys: Tips to avoid breaking your dog’s face

My poor Brady has had a rough couple of months. I took him to the vet for something fairly routine, and lo and behold, the vet discovered that he had a fractured tooth.

“No he doesn’t,” was my immediate reaction. What she was telling me simply would not compute. When the hell would my dog have BROKEN a TOOTH? The vet then showed me his back molar and, sure enough, there was a little chipped, pink spot. It was right there, staring me in the face. How could I have missed it?

Now you have to understand something. I am a…let’s say “highly-involved dog owner.” Like, probably a little crazy. I brush my dog’s teeth every night. He goes to daycare when I travel so his mind is occupied. I socialize him regularly. I’ve taken him to multiple training classes. I feed him high-quality food. I think hard about everything regarding his health, physical, dental and mental. So how in the SWEET HELL did my dog BREAK A GODDAMN TOOTH on MY WATCH?

The vet’s response: “Does he chew on Nylabones?

Apparently, Nylabones are a definite source of cracked teeth. My vet (and the veterinary dentist we later saw) both say that they see countless numbers of broken teeth every year due to Nylabones. They advertise them as “safe and durable” but that unfortunately translates to “harder than teeth” in many instances. Needless to say, upon hearing this I broke down into a fit of tears and guilt, devastated that I had ruined my poor dog forever. That feeling only got intensified when the veterinary dentist found that he needed 3 more teeth extracted, two due to a severe malocclusion and another due to–you guessed it–gnawing on a Nylabone.

To get over the crushing guilt, I had several good conversations and read a friend’s valuable words of wisdom and got that I’m doing the best I can by this little pooch. He is no worse for wear, and now I know better having learned a few things along the way about what is safe and not safe for your dog.

What not to give your dog:
Nylabones (or nylon bones of any kind)
Real marrow bones
Ice cubes
Tennis balls
Bananas (the sugar rots their teeth)
Sticks or stones
Cow hooves or pig hooves

Safe toys for your dogs teeth:
Toys made out of rubber, such as Kong or Go Dog
Pig’s tails (called “Swirlies” or “twirlies”)
Rawhide (only easily digestible rawhide as it’s not the best for all dogs -if you’re not sure, ask your vet which brands are good)
Rope toys (as long as the cores aren’t too dense)
Soft toys like stuffed animals (preferably without the stuffing)

Save your dogs some pain and yourself some grief (and some money), dog owners, and do your research before your dog needs teeth removed! And watch your dog when they chew – no toy is truly 100% “safe.”

Also, if you are in the New England area, Veterinary Dental Services in Acton, MA were knowledgeable, friendly, and very capable when it came to Brady’s surgery. I always felt very taken care of, and Brady was, too. Even if he did come out of the whole ordeal slightly more toothless.


4 thoughts on “Unsafe Dog Toys: Tips to avoid breaking your dog’s face

  1. Aw, Shellie! Of your “don’t give these to your dog” list, the only thing Samus doesn’t get regularly is bananas (because *I’m* allergic), and after a super bad experience with a hoof (she basically swallowed it whole), she doesn’t get those either. Everything else she does get regularly, and the three months of mortgage payments (to date) that we’ve sunk into her have all been for other dog-generated stupidity. I guess we’re courting disaster. :-/ Have to say, though, that the BEST thing we’ve found for her (aside from rawhide (never pressed rawhide, btw; it splinters) which she can consume in about half a second although she cuts her gums to raw and bleeding…) are antlers. There’s a company (Lucky Buck) which sells them, sustainably harvested, all different sizes, and they’re great. They take a lot of chewing, but actually are soft enough to not break teeth – and they don’t reek (which was one of our hoof problems). And some of the things on your “do give your dog…” list would be deadly for Samus, like the soft toys, things. She chews them to larger-than-reasonable pieces and then eats them. And there’s another month’s worth of mortgage for yet another gastrotomy. When will the vet agree to install the zipper I keep begging for? Heck, cows get plexiglass window sides for vet students’ observational advantage. How hard would a stomach zipper be?

    • You know, someone should seriously look into doggy stomach zippers. It would be a worthwhile investment! (I remember when Samus ate something like a pound of grass? I would love to get into the head of dogs and see just what the hell goes on in their little brains when they go about doing these things.) Or maybe they need to start earning their keep so they can pay us back for the zillions of dollars it takes to get them all fixed up, hahah.

      And you’re totally right, not all toys are going to be safe for all dogs. Didn’t know anything about the antlers, though – thanks for passing that along!

    • I was surprised by the ice cubes – I mean, I chew them and I don’t break my teeth…but I guess I also don’t full on chew a solid cube, I let it melt down to a reasonable size and temperature. They can get pretty hard, I do suppose!

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