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Balls, Balls, and More Balls
So Many Dog Balls to Choose From!
My dogs love balls! For that reason, of all of my recommended dog toys, balls are my favorite. And, I purchased different types of balls for different purposes. I have summarized my best finds below to save you a lot of time and effort.
When I first adopted my dogs, I tried a lot of different balls–different sizes, textures, and ranges of durability. Some balls were smooth, others had a raised, textured design, and a few had holes in them for peanut butter or small treats. I also found balls that had squeakers or bells in them, which seemed more suited for small dogs or cats. There seemed to be an almost endless variety of balls! I found it to be a little overwhelming. But, through trial and error, I eventually found the best balls for my dogs.
My mixed breed dogs weigh about 35 pounds each and are considered to be medium size. They are sisters and both are a Pug/Cattle Dog mix. So, they both like to chew on things, and Pugs really love to eat! But they also like to chase around the yard and herd the birds like good Cattle Dogs do. So, first, I bought a large, bouncy type of ball for them to herd around the back yard.
I also tried a Frisbee, after I saw some dogs at the park chasing and catching them. But my dogs were not even the least bit interested in either and could not figure out what to do with them. So, that was a bust. Next, I tried two different sizes of balls–very small and medium. The medium-sized balls were the best fit for their mouths and easy for them to play chase and fetch. So, I stuck with those.
I then experimented with soft, medium, and hard rubber balls. The soft ones were too dangerous as they could too easily chew them up. The medium-soft ones lasted longer, but these balls required supervision because they could be broken apart over time. Ultimately, I discovered that the hard rubber ones were best, as they were pretty indestructible and did not require supervision.
At one point, I bought a couple of dog balls with squeakers inside, but this made my dogs really hyper. Additionally, they tried to chew the ball apart to get to the squeaker inside, and I was afraid they would swallow it. A trainer told me this was because of their hunt and killer instinct, and she was not a fan of any toy that squeaked.
1. Durable Balls
Wingpet and Snug balls are my favorite dog balls and my favorite recommended dog toys. The red-textured Wingpet balls are interesting and a bit smaller. Unfortunately, I cannot find this ball anymore. But I did find this great Ethcial Sensory Tough Chew Ball at Chewy which is similar and has bells inside. It is a great hit. It comes in multi-colors and keeps dogs intrigued
So my go-to favorite balls are the Snug balls which I usually buy at Amazon. I can easily throw them, and they bounce well. These balls are pretty indestructible due to the hard rubber. Yet, they are not too hard for my dog’s teeth and can be safely chewed on without supervision. I bought several of the Snug balls since they tend to end up outside or under the couch!
ChuckIt! balls from Amazon are great and my dogs love them! They come with launchers and my dogs really love them! They are lighter weight and a little more flexible, but very tough. They also come in various sizes and seem to be one of the most popular balls due to their durability and flexibility. You can also find them at Chewy if you want to compare prices. I usually get the medium-sized balls for my 35-pound dogs.
Note that, although these are my favorites, they are not my dog’s favorites. Since they can’t be chewed apart in five minutes and are not “squishy” they are a little less interesting. However, they do love to chase and fetch these balls and can safely chew on them when I am not around to supervise.
2. Chew King Balls
I love Chew King Balls! My next favorite recommended dog toy are these balls. I bought two types of Chew King balls. Hard rubber and medium soft rubber. They all have holes in the center, which is very handy for peanut butter or small treats. This helps to keep my dogs entertained for a while. One type is a larger, lime green, hard rubber ball. The dogs like this one well enough and it is plenty safe. But it tends to be a little big and harder for them to carry around.
I love the smaller purple and turquoise King Chew balls that I buy by the bag as they are a little smaller and fit their mouths better. These balls are their absolute favorites!! In fact, my dogs get a little obsessed with them and will carry them around for hours if I allow it, not even stopping for a drink of water. And, because they are a little softer, supervision is necessary. I never leave the dogs alone with these balls. Although, so far they have not broken them open.
I discovered, however, that if I take a bunch of them to the tennis court or park and throw them, they will fetch and bring them back to me. But this only works as long as they know I will keep throwing them and have more in my pocket. And, sometimes I have to fight to get these balls back when we are ready to leave but treat bribes usually work. There is also a handy, plastic thrower that comes with these balls to extend the throwing distance.
3. Tennis Balls
Of course, there is nothing like a good, old tennis ball for chasing and fetching! My dogs absolutely love to chase tennis balls. I often found old, discarded tennis balls at the park and would through them for the dogs. They would run their legs off! The local pet store used to sell tennis balls for $1 each, and I would always pick some up when I was there. But I did discover a brand online called Insum Tennis Balls for Dog. I also discovered the Frisco Tennis Balls by Chewy which have great prices and an autoship plan which saves money. My dogs go through a lot of tennis balls! They are durable and come in a large net bag in a variety of colors. Note that the colors dogs see best are yellow and blue. Other colors may look a little more like shades of gray or brown to them.
The only thing about tennis balls is that dogs can usually chew them apart pretty easily. So, do not leave your dog alone with tennis balls. If they swallow the pieces, it could cause a serious intestinal obstruction. Also, my dogs tend to get a little obsessive with these as well, since they are a little softer.
Dogs Love to Chew–But Safety Comes First! My Recommended Dog Chew Toys
As with balls and other toys, safety is always the first thing to consider. Dogs love to chew on a lot of things including stuff that is really bad for them like cooked chicken and beef bones that can splinter. They also like to chew and tear up softer, non-food stuff that could be bad for their digestive tracks and cause an obstruction.
Shortly after I adopted my rescue dogs, Georgia became very ill and started to vomit. She kept throwing up little small bits of some brown substance, and I could not figure out what it was. She started to lose her appetite and seemed really lethargic. So, I rushed her to the vet and then to the animal hospital for observation and hydration. After a couple of days, a few X-rays, and $1,700 later, the mysterious brown stuff passed and she recovered without surgery. I felt very relieved!
A couple of weeks later, I discovered what the brown mystery pieces were from when I caught her bounding downstairs with a small, rubber doorstop in her mouth! The small doorstop was the perfect size for her to chew on and soft enough to tear up and swallow. Needless to say, all of the rubber doorstops have been removed from my house!
Here is the key to safe chewing toys:
- Avoid really hard toys that can break teeth like hard nylon (vets hate nylon bones)
- Tug-of-war rope toys are not the best option as the fibers can get twisted around their intestines if swallowed
- Do not give your dog anything that can be chewed up and swallowed
- You should always check out whether or not a toy is made from non-toxic substances
- Resist the temptation to give your dogs bully sticks or rawhide chews which can upset their stomachs
- Do not give your dog cooked bones, especially chicken bones which can splinter or get caught in their throats or intestinal tracks
Fortunately, there are a lot of safer options that will give your dogs a lot of enjoyment, help keep tartar off of their teeth, and satisfy their chewing needs. I searched long and hard to find the best options and here are my recommendation dog toys for chewing:
1. Bones, Bones, and More Bones!
My dogs love to chew on bones, and I keep a constant stash in our home! At first, I had a hard time finding safe things that they liked. Some of the hard rubber bones which the Vet recommended were not that interesting to them. Initially, my dogs loved nylon curved bones infused with bacon or chicken flavors. They had ridges to help clean their teeth. But after my Vet told me about how many dogs break their teeth on these nylon bones, I searched for other options and discovered some better alternatives:
Currently, my dogs really love the Spot chew bones made from renewable bamboo fibers. It is a bit hard, but they can easily nibble away at it without hurting their teeth. They are able to break off and chew small pieces and ingest them, but it does not seem to bother their stomach or digestive tracks. However, I did see a couple of reviews that said it made their dogs sick, so please observe your dog. When they whittle them down more than halfway, I throw them out to make sure they don’t swallow the rest of it whole. They last for many weeks, have a bacon flavor the dogs love, and the manufacturer states they are non-toxic.
My dogs’ next favorite chew bone is the Petstages Dogwood Chewing Stick. This is slightly harder than the Spot Bamboo Chew and apparently does not taste quite as good. The chewing stick is made from natural wood and non-toxic synthetic material that can be chewed down but does not splinter. So far it has not broken any teeth or caused stomach problems. A USA company manufactures these sticks and advertises them as a safe alternative to hard chew toys made from Nylon or other hard products like bully sticks, elk antlers, or hooves which can all break teeth.
Since Georgia enjoyed her rubber doorstop so much, I thought she might really enjoy hard rubber bones made by Paw West and HAOPINSH . Both dogs do like them, especially if there are no other options. But they do not seem to have the same good flavor or chewy texture as the Spot and Petstage products. Since these are the healthiest and safest alternative bones, I periodically encourage them to chew on these instead of the bamboo and wood bones.
I really like the Paw West Zogoflex Hurley Dog featured above, as they are a nice size to stick in my purse or car. These sturdy rubber bones are made in the USA and are non-toxic, throwable, and floatable. So, they are great all-around dog bone alternatives. The large HAOPINSH is a great chew toy to help with good dental health, even if not as floatable, and it comes in beef flavor. These two rubber bones are pretty much indestructible and safe. My Vet recommends these rubber chewy toys due to safety. The toys are easy on the teeth but hard enough to avoid being chewed up and swallowed.
2. Other Chew Toy Options
I really appreciate the entire Kong line of hard rubber chew toys and these are my recommended dog toys for safe chewing. The Kong toys are made of natural rubber and they have an entire line of toys in a variety of shapes, sizes, firmness, and colors. Kong pretty much guarantees their products to be indestructible. However, the company notes that small bits may come off and swallow, so supervision is advised. My dogs have played with these for many months, and have not swallowed any pieces to my knowledge so they same pretty safe.
The Kong Classic Dog Chew Toy which is a cone-shaped toy with a hole in the middle can be thrown and used to hide peanut butter or treats inside. Your dog can be entertained for several minutes up to an hour. They also have a great line of rubber dental chew toys to help clean your dog’s teeth.
My Recommended Stuffed Animal Dog Toys
Again, safety is important. I spent hours searching for safe stuffed animals:
- Stuffed animals should be made of durable, non-toxic fabric and stuffing
- They should not have plastic parts such as plastic buttons for the eyes and nose
- Stuffed animals without squeakers or cellophane inside are the safest
Ideally, the best stuffed animal dog toy will be too tough to rip apart easily and will not include anything they can choke on or swallow. And, squeakers can make some dogs hyper. Your dog may eventually get to the stuffing, but as long as it is non-toxic and he does not eat a lot of it, the toy should be okay. Please be sure to supervise your dog with a stuffed animal until you feel comfortable that he will be safe with his new dog toy.
Here are my recommended stuffed animal dog toys:
My dogs love these squirrels!!! The Fluff & Tuff SQUEAKERLESS Red Squirrels are by far my favorite recommended dog toy!
Every morning my dogs run downstairs in anticipation of breakfast. They find their squirrels and toss them up into the air while I fix breakfast. They also love to play tug of war with them. I replace them every 12 months as they get dusty and are usually missing their nose and ears and some stuffing after a few months.
These squirrels are made of very durable, non-toxic fabric in the USA by a small family owned company. This company donates to charitable causes and appears to have great customer service. They do not have squeakers, which is a huge plus! When my dogs want to play, they will often bring me one of these squirrels. They are a little expensive but totally worth it! The eyes and nose are sewn in with fabric–no buttons or plastic parts. I just love these rather large 12″ squirrels.
My second favorite “squirrels” are West Paw Custer plush toys which come in yellow, purple, and pink and are adorable! They do have a squeaker, but it is not loud and does not seem to upset my dogs. These “squirrels” also have hard rubber feet which are very durable as is the fabric. My dogs love to play with these “squirrels” as we call them in my household almost as much as the Fluff and Tuff Red Squirrels. They are fun to step on and squeak to get my dogs in a playful mood. So far after several weeks of play, my dogs have not torn them up at all. Everything is still intact.
These “purple squirrels” are made in the USA, and are durable and great for tug-of-war. They are also smaller than the red squirrels and can be easily taken along on a trip. And, they are machine washable and dryer safe, which I always appreciate. They are a little less expensive than the red squirrels, but certainly not cheap. But, again, they are worth it!
I found this really cute rabbit —Smart Pet Love Tender Tuff Bottle Rabbit Squeaky Plush Dog Toy by Smart Pet Love and fell in love with it. It does not have a squeaker or stuffing. It allows you to place a plastic bottle inside to make a noise when your dog squeezes it, but I chose not to do that. The fabric is very durable and it is extremely safe since there is no stuffing or squeaker inside. My dogs loved this rabbit, but they tore it apart after a few weeks of tug-of-war, so it did not hold up quite as well as the squirrels.
My dogs have a lot of fun with this rabbit and it is a great alternative when they are tired of squirrels!