Pug playing tug with a rope toy

Safe chew toys for dogs

By Team Walmart Pets

April 21, 2021


min read

Chew toys for dogs are a great way to keep your dog stimulated. It’s worth having a variety of interactive, engaging and fun dog toys

Chew toys for dogs help keep their teeth and gums healthy and strengthen their jaw muscles. Chew toys also provide essential mental stimulation.

What makes a safe dog chew toy?

What it’s made of

Try to avoid rubbery plastics made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or vinyl. Many vets are concerned that these materials can release harmful phthalates as a dog chews on them.

Most of the better and safer chew toys have "phthalate-free" on their label. It’s also good to keep an eye out for toys made with FDA-certified non-toxic dyes. In general, chews made from natural rubber are a smart choice. It’s also smart to avoid any hard plastics that can potentially damage your pet’s teeth, which is especially important for senior dogs.

Rawhide is another material to avoid. First, many rawhide chews can present a choking or intestinal obstruction risk. Second, many rawhides are byproducts of the international fur and leather trade. Finally, rawhides are sometimes coated with potentially toxic chemicals and manufactured in foreign countries with little, if any, oversight or inspection.

Edible chew toys

Bones, hooves, pig ears, pizzles, antlers and more are often tempting choices for dog chews, but there are some things to look out for: 

1. Broken teeth. It can happen with all varieties of hooves, antlers and chew bones, even those advertised as “safe for teeth.” Especially with older pups.

2. Choking. It happens, especially if a dog chomps one in half or gnaws off a fragment. 

3. Splintering. Despite many claims to the contrary, any bone can splinter, resulting in serious, even fatal, injury. 

4. Contamination. Pig ears, bully sticks (a polite way to describe a bull’s penis bone in chew toy form), puzzles and even certain antlers have been recalled for bacterial contamination, chemical treatments as well as other production and packaging hazards.

Chew toys can be an important enrichment tool for your dog. Plus, they’re fun. Consider rotating your dog’s toys every couple of days to keep them fresh. Also regularly wash and rinse them to keep them sanitary and clean, and consider replacing them at the first sign of wear, breaking or cracking.

Pet Health



Chew Toys

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Photo by Darinka Kievskaya on Unsplash