Can I Give My Puppy Human Toys?

One thing I love doing is buying new toys for my dogs. Like children, dogs and puppies tend to get super happy when you give them something new and fun to play with.

At my local big-box pet store the other day, I looked at the huge variety of dog toys on display and wondered what to get my furry friend. Another woman was also there and said something to me that I’ve heard before: “why are dog toys more expensive than toys for children?”

That got me thinking about the differences between toys for puppies and toys for small children and the fact that, in some cases, they are quite similar. I was also reminded of a question I frequently hear from readers: Can I give my puppy human toys?

The answer, in my opinion, and the opinion of many dog experts and vets, is that no, you shouldn’t give your puppy any human toys. Human toys aren’t made to withstand the rough chewing they will endure from puppies, and many are made from toxic ingredients.

Frankly, there are so many toys on the market made specifically for puppies that you shouldn’t need to give them human toys to play with. The risks are simply too high, especially for choking.

If you’d like to know more about which toys you should and shouldn’t give to your puppy, read on. I’ve got some of the best and worst below to help prevent any problems when your pup is happily playing with their toys.

Risks of Human Toys for Puppies

There are more than a few risks when giving human toys to puppies, even with toys that have been given to them for decades. Below are a few of the worst risks and the toys that can cause them, including:

Choking

Human toys aren’t durable enough to withstand rough play and chewing. Tennis balls, for example, have been given to puppies since they were invented. However, a large-breed puppy can easily chew them into small chunks, which can cause a choking hazard. Some of the other toys that your puppy could choke on include:

  • Superballs 
  • Frisbees
  • The eyes and other small, plastic parts on stuffed animals.
  • The stuffing in stuffed animals.
  • Any small, plastic or rubber toy.

Cancer

Many human toys are made with toxic materials that, if ingested, can cause cancer in your puppy once they become an adult dog. Frisbees, for example, a human toy that thousands of puppies are given for play, contain PVC, phthalates, and BPA, all highly toxic. 

Problems for Your Puppy’s Digestive and Reproductive System and their Hormone Balance

Some of the same ingredients that can cause cancer in dogs can also cause problems for their body’s hormone regulation and digestive system. 

Indeed, even frisbees made specifically for dogs often have toxic ingredients that can cause hormone imbalances. These imbalances, if left unchecked, can cause other health problems for your pup, including allergies, asthma, and infertility.

The stuffing in stuffed animals can also be problematic for a puppy if they tear one open, which is possible if they get a hold of a stuffed animal for a prolonged period. The stuffing, if swallowed, can build up inside their intestines and cause a serious and sometimes deadly intestinal blockage. 

Tooth Injuries

While many human toys can’t withstand a puppy’s incessant chewing, some are so hard that they can actually break or otherwise damage their immature (and still weak) teeth. For example, a solid plastic toy made for children, like an action figure.

How to Choose Safe Toys for your Dog

Choosing safe toys for your dog isn’t extremely difficult, but it helps to know what to look for (and look out for). Below are a few excellent tips to help you choose toys that your pup will love and stay safe with when playing:

  • Make sure the toy is specifically made for puppies, not dogs. Conscientious manufacturers know the extra risks associated with puppies and make their puppy toys accordingly. 
  • Toys made from natural rubber are the best as they don’t contain any toxic ingredients. While you’re at it, look for puppy toys made from latex-free plastic.
  • Give your puppy rope toys made from hemp or bamboo. They’re more durable, but if pieces break off, they’re also non-toxic.
  • Avoid soft toys. Here’s the thing; puppies don’t know when to quit. They will chew and tear and chew some more until they tear a soft toy to bits, and those bits can cause the problems I mentioned above.
  • Choose the correct size. If you give a Chihuahua puppy a large toy, the chance they will swallow it is very low. However, if you give a Great Dane puppy a super ball, the chance of swallowing it and choking is incredibly high.
  • Avoid anything stuffed with straw or hay. Straw and hay are sharp and coarse and can lacerate your pup’s mouth, gums, and palate.

What Toys Should you Not Give a Puppy?

There are quite a few toys that shouldn’t be given to puppies, even though you might find them on the shelf at your local big-box pet store. Below is a list of the worst of them, including:

  • Any toy with beads or beans inside, especially plastic beads.
  • Toys with batteries. If your pup tears into a toy and gets to the battery, it could cause them serious harm.
  • Toys made for adult dogs can often be too hard for a puppy’s softer, immature teeth.
  • Any toy so small it will fit completely in your puppy’s mouth.
  • Toys with plastic bits can become detached and cause a choking hazard.

How to Keep my Puppy Away from my Kids’ Toys

Keeping your puppy away from your children’s toys sounds much easier than it is in reality. Like children, puppies are relentless, especially when they lock onto something they want. If that’s your kids’ toy, that toy had better be somewhere they definitely can’t reach it. 

Here are a few methods to prevent your pup from accidentally playing (and hurting itself) with one of your child’s toys:

  • Use a baby gate to keep them out of your child’s room.
  • Crate your puppy at night or when you’re not home so they can’t get to any toys lying around your home.
  • Give your puppy plenty of their own safe toys so that they won’t have the desire to choose human toys.
  • Train your pup to recognize the difference between their toys and your child’s toys.
  • Put your child’s toys away and teach your kids to do the same.
  • Never give your puppy an old toy your kid doesn’t play with anymore, as it sets a bad precedent.
  • Make sure your pup gets plenty of playtime with their toys.
  • Don’t mix puppy and human toys, and keep play areas as separate as possible.
  • Keep human toys stored in your child’s playpen, toy chest, etc.

Final Thoughts

The answer to the question “can I give my puppy human toys” should be a firm “no.” There are so many good toys out there for puppies and dogs that it simply shouldn’t be necessary. Plus, many human toys are dangerous for puppies and could cause them great harm.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog and that it answered all of your questions. Please see my other blogs if you have more or would like to learn more about being a good pet parent. (There are a lot of them!) I try to fill every blog with useful, real-world info and advice to help you and your pup have a wonderful life together!