Our pets provide us with countless hours of entertainment as well as a wealth of unconditional love and affection. They are members of the family with their own personalities, and as such we dote on them as if they were human children. Just like human children they tend to have an ever increasing collection of toys in order to keep them busy when we're away, or with which to have fun with us and other members of the family.
Pet toys have come a long way from the random fetching sticks and tennis balls used by previous generations of pet owners. Today's dogs have a variety of assorted toys to play with ranging from stuffies to cuddle with to active toys such as tug ropes, and even other toys to prevent boredom and keep them active when they're home alone.
The photo above is shows one of our canine clients, Jerry Lee, with his Kong, a chew-friendly rubber toy that holds treats (and we know how much dogs love treats). These are great toys to have as the dog has to work a little to get to the treat. Kong toys come in different shapes and sizes, though the Classic is the most popular.
If you put peanut butter inside the Kong, it can keep him or her busy for hours -- perfect for when you're headed out to work or plan to be away from home for a few hours. Just be sure to choose the right size Kong for your dog, it's important that it not be too big or too small. Like any other toy, if it's too small it could present a choking hazard for your dog; likewise, a toy this is too large could frustrate your dog or possibly even cause them to be injured.
Jerry Lee LOVES his Kong! He carries it around with him, and he's learned that if he pushes it off the couch, sometimes a treat will pop out!
Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs like to fetch. For dogs who do, it's a great bonding exercise that helps to work off excess energy. The photo just above shows our canine client Max and one of our favorite toys for active play, the Chuckit! ball launcher. The great thing about this low-tech gadget is that it allows you to throw farther, and then you don't have to pick up a dirty, slobbery ball with your hand when it's time to throw again. Also, we prefer rubber balls to fuzzy tennis balls; they throw and roll farther, and wash off easier, and come in different sizes. We also find that dogs prefer the rubber balls over tennis balls as well.
When it comes to play time and cats there's one tried and true item that never seems to fail - the laser pointer. For some reason cats just go crazy trying to catch that little red spot on the floor, and it's hilarious to watch them try. As most pet parents already know, cats will pounce on just about anything that moves, including a foot under the covers. As well, anything that dangles, from the cords to our electronics and appliances, to fringe on anything, or even stray shoe strings, to them is fair game.
While we want our kitties to have fun and keep themselves occupied, we also want them to be safe and healthy at play. As much as cats love any kind of string, balls of yarn (or rubber bands or anything that frays) are a bad idea. If swallowed, yarn can get stuck in their intestines, and if tangled in their claws... ouch!
Above is one of our kitty clients, Harold, with an assortment of cat toys for interactive and individual play. It's important to remember that not all cats will take to all toys; while kittens will play with practically anything, older cats tend to be more discerning. We find Feather Flips to be a real favorite; they are soft and throw well, and cats seem to like the feathers. Feather teasers are also popular. They allow you to play with your cat and avoid being accidentally scratched.
On some levels, when it comes to toys cats are easy to please. Many are happy pouncing on an empty paper towel tube and others will play with wadded up newspaper. Some cats will even play fetch if they have a favorite toy they can chase when rolled or tossed.
Playtime isn't just about keeping your pet (or yourself) entertained. It's an important part of keeping them fit and healthy and providing necessary daily stimulation.
Petit Pet Care Important Pet Toy Tips:
--There should be a variety of toys for solo play as well as for interacting.
--Always make sure toy size and texture are appropriate.
--Regularly inspect all toys to make sure there are no tears or loose parts your pet could swallow.
--Cats and yarn is a big no no.
Remember that ALL pets need toys to provide mental and physical stimulation and alleviate boredom, not just cats and dogs. Ferrets, rabbits, birds, turtles, hamsters...
Visit our Playtime Pinterest board for links to playtime ideas and pictures of some of our furry friends at play with their favorite toys.
More Pet Playtime Resources:
6 Steps to Teaching Your Dog to Fetch
Dog Toys: How to Pick the Best and Safest
Games to Play With Your Cat