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Humane Society of
Wayne County, New York

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This page was last modified on Sunday November 18, 2012

Pet Toys are a Necessity, Not a Luxury

Growing up we all had a favorite toy that gave us comfort and pleasure. Pet toys fulfill similar needs for our pets. Toys can provide the pet with comfort, as well as challenge the pet's mind and assist in correcting bad behaviors. By occupying a pet's mind, toys help to keep your pet mentally sharp and out of trouble. In addition to keeping your pet occupied and out of mischief, toys stimulate your pet's natural instincts. For example, a cat with a toy mouse plays with the toy as if it were hunting a real mouse in the backyard. There is very little difference to the cat between hunting a toy mouse and hunting a real mouse with one exception, a cat hunting a toy mouse is healthier for both the cat and a real mouse. Believe it or not pets get bored, and like any other being boredom can lead to trouble and destructive behavior. Grandma use to say, "An idol mind is the devil's playground." Toys can alleviate a pet's boredom and provide a new outlet in which to channel both mental and physical energy.

However, pet toys need to be chosen carefully. Old slippers and old shoes are not appropriate toys for a puppy. Unfortunately, the puppy will not be able to tell the difference between his/her old slipper or shoe and its owner's new slipper or shoe. Pet toys must be safe and appropriate for the pet, so choose toys wisely. Inappropriate toys can cause more harm than fun. A local veterinarian surgically removed a "Nerf" ball from the stomach of a lab puppy last year.

There are a wide variety of pet toys on the market and like some children's toys not all pet toys are safe and appropriate for your particular pet. There are obviously some pet toy manufactures who try to appeal more to the pet owner than to the pet. Talking stuffed dogs dressed up as tough guys that say things like, "Whats up!" probably won't appeal to your dog any more than a non talking stuffed toy. Keep your pet's manners, traits, and personality in mind when picking out a toy. For instance, if your dog enjoys tearing cloth and pulling out stuffing, you may want to stay away from plush toys with squeakers inside, and choose a toy made with heavier canvas material. Make sure that the toys you choose do not have any buttons or objects that can become unattached and easily swallowed. A pet can choke and suffer from an obstructed airway, or develop an intestinal obstruction by ingesting a foreign object from a toy. Check all your pet's toys periodically and discard all torn or broken toys to minimize health risks and hazards.

Toys not only provide mental stimulation to your pet when alone, but an interactive play session is a wonderful opportunity for you and your pet to spend some quality time. Your dog, a Frisbee (or a tennis ball) in a safe area out-of-doors can provide both you and your dog with a great deal of fun and exercise. Additionally, shining a flashlight beam, dragging a ribbon, yarn, or a string across the floor for your cat to chase will provide great fun for both of you. Just watching a cat play with a felt ball or toy mouse can provide great deal of entertainment for both you and your cat. A goldfish swimming in a bowl around a sunken ship, or a hamster on a wheel can provide entertainment for you and exercise for the pet.

Challenge your pet, with a new toy and let the fun begin!