Dogs choke on things just like we humans do, but it’s not always nearly as obvious what’s risky and needs to be avoided. Even many common toys and items specifically made for dogs can be a choking hazard based on your dog’s size or chewing habits.
But today, we’ll hopefully clear up some of that confusion for you. Read through this list of items dogs choke on carefully, and be sure to pay attention to size/weight restrictions on toys and other things you buy for your dog.
And one final thing before we get into specific choking risks for your dog: always observe your dog when they play with something new, and frequently check toys and other things around you house your dogs play with for signs of wear. Replace immediately when you notice issues.
Now, let’s get into what you should be looking out for!
1. Balls: We’re certainly not going to tell you to deprive your doggy of balls to play with, but many pet owners do not practice proper care with the balls their dog plays with. Frequently check the balls your dog uses for signs of ripping, tearing, or other deterioration and replace immediately when you notice problems.
2. Chew Toys: While dog chew toys should be made safe, it’s important to know what type of toy is right for your dog. Dogs that aren’t big chewers might be fine with a tennis ball that’s not appropriate for dogs that love to chew aggressively on things.
For heavy chewers, look for a toy that is tough and made of rubber, with no pieces that can easily be ripped off. Be sure to observe any dog with their toys to see how they’re chewing on their toys before allowing them to play with it unsupervised.
3. Batteries: They’re about the size of many dog toys and frequently have shiny exteriors that could attract many dogs. Not only are they a big and rarely thought of dog choking risk, the chemicals could cause problems for your dog even if they are merely licked and not swallowed.
4. Rocks: It’s unusual but some dogs will try to eat rocks, especially if they are experiencing stomach discomfort. They can easily have these lodge in their throat and choke, so be sure to keep an eye out during walks (especially if your dog is a curious puppy).
5. Sticks: Dogs certainly do enjoy playing fetch with sticks, but this is something veterinarians recommend that you avoid. Sticks can and will easily splinter in your dog’s mouth, which could lead to serious intestinal problems. There’s also risk of poking themselves or playmates in the eye or mouth. Try stick-shaped dog toys instead.
6. Plastic Wrap: It’s unlikely your dog will go after these before you’ve used them, but once they’ve been used to cover food they’ll become very attractive to your dog. Their sticky, clumping nature makes them a big choking hazard for dogs so be very careful to place these only in trash cans that your dogs will not be able to get into.
7. Fabric Softener Sheets: It might sound crazy, but many dogs are attracted to the scent of fabric softener sheets. They remind them of us, and often find their way onto the floor where they’re easily snapped up by our dogs. While the risk for choking is small here, the chemicals in them could cause problems for your pup. Keep them out of reach!
8. Cooked Bones: Avoid giving your dogs these at all costs no matter how much they might desire them. Bones that are too small are obvious choking hazards, and all sizes of cooked bones could easily splinter which could cause your dog serious intestinal problems.
9. Bread: It sounds crazy, but bread is actually very easy for your dog to choke on. Why? Bread expands and clumps when eaten, which could cause problems given the way that most dogs like to gulp down their food.
10. Hard Candy: There’s a good chance that your pup will go after some human hard candy if given the opportunity, so make sure to keep it out of their reach. The small size and your dog’s lack of chewing could easily lead to it getting lodged in their throat.
11. Gristle: This popular table scrap may be a big treat for many dogs, but it can be difficult to chew which could cause problems with dogs who like to gulp things down. If you give gristle to your dog, make sure to cut it up into very small pieces first.
12. Children’s Toys: Everyone with children knows that their toys often are attractive to dogs as well. They’re squeaky and often found on the floor, after all. But just as you have to keep an eye on how your child plays with their toys, you should watch how your dog interacts with them also.
13. Rawhide: Be careful before allowing your dog to have these popular chews as they will become soft once they’re coated in your dog’s saliva. Watch your dog when they have a rawhide and take it away when it gets soft, then allow it time to harden again before giving it back.
14. Human Medication: Curious dogs may try to get at the medication they see you taking regularly, and the potential for it being toxic to your dog is high. Flavored medications, vitamins, and gummies can be especially tempting so ensure you are keeping these properly stored away from your dog.
15. String Items: Yarn, dental floss, and even hair bands can cause choking issues for dogs. Keep these and other stringy items out of the reach of your dog as they can cause intestinal problems.
Remember that in addition to paying close attention to the dog choking hazards on this list, you should always watch your dog carefully when introducing a new toy, and replace all items as soon as they begin to show ripping or other signs of wear.
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