Stuffed toys are fun for dogs, but swallowed stuffing can cause intestinal blockage. Is the fun of playing with a stuffed toy worth the risk of surgery or death if stuffing is swallowed? Squeaky stuffed animals present a double hazard, as squeakers can either be swallowed or could become lodged in a dog’s throat, causing choking.
Soft stuffed animals made of a single layer of fabric, filled with stuffing, with squeakers inside are the most hazardous stuffed toys. Even a small dog can easily chew through a single layer of fabric and remove the stuffing, which could then be swallowed. If stuffing is swallowed and causes blockage, most dogs will need surgery, and the blockage or complications associated with it could be fatal.
Most dogs, when given a squeaky stuffed animal, will attempt to tear the stuffed animal open and remove the squeaker. Dogs that chew or toss squeakers once removed risk choking on them. These small plastic devices are not intended to be chewed unless they are still inside a stuffed toy.
I don’t recommend allowing most dogs to have these soft stuffed toys, even with supervision. A very few dogs are consistently gentle enough with their toys to be permitted to play with soft plush squeaky toys with constant supervision.
Less Dangerous Stuffed Toys
A variety of manufacturers offer stuffed toys designed for greater durability and safety. Bamboo has a “battle tested” line of stuffed toys which put multiple layers of an extra-tough nylon between the dog and the toy’s stuffing and squeaker. The Tuffies company specializes in durable stuffed toys, and offers tougher stuffies in various shapes and sizes, from lobsters to dinosaurs.
If you’d like to give your dog a stuffed toy but are concerned about safety, I suggest looking into one of the various extra-durable stuffed toy lines available, with as many layers of a tough fabric between the dog’s teeth and the toy’s insides as possible.
However, even the toughest stuffed toy won’t stand up to a power chewer for long. Always supervise dogs with any stuffed toy, and if the toy is torn enough to reveal stuffing, either discard both the toy and the stuffing, or remove the stuffing and any squeakers completely.