Sturdy, safe puppy teething toys are a must for growing puppies! Find out what makes a great chew toy, which ones are best choice for teething pups - and which ones to avoid.
If your little one is in the throes of losing baby teeth and growing in those big, shiny adult ones, then he's in the 'teething stage', and this can be a challenging time - for everyone.
Between about 8 weeks and 6 months (sometimes longer), your puppy will be absolutely determined to spend a LOT of time with his jaws clamped firmly around something.
The desire to chew is a natural canine instinct at any time, but during this developmental stage, it tends to peak because your pup needs to chew to relieve the discomfort in his gums, and to 'help' his baby teeth drop out and the big teeth come in.
Chewing also helps to develop strong jaw muscles, relieve stress and anxiety, use up excess energy and keep your little guy entertained.
Good puppy chew toys give you a lot of 'bang for your buck', and are multi-functional and long lasting.
It's definitely worth taking the time to understand which toys are the best choices for your
teething puppy. This will save you money, and the time spent replacing
the damaged/ignored toy, it will also keep your puppy safe because
cheap, poorly-made or inappropriate toys can be dangerous when you're
dealing with a tiny 'Jaws' impersonator!
If you don't give your pup safe and appropriate toys to play with and gnaw on, he'll decide for himself what should go in his mouth... and I can promise you that these choices won't be the ones you would make!
In our family we've raised a lot of puppies - and have probably bought almost every type of puppy toy known to man. My 'testers' have ranged from Miniature Dachshunds to Rottweilers (and lots of sizes in between), so I know what works and is worth buying.
Of course I don't know your puppy, and no two puppies are exactly the same, ever. Your little guy or girl is unique - with his (or her) own preferences, personality, size, strength, breed-characteristics etc. etc.
So, I can't guarantee that your pup will adore every single toy I recommend or showcase, but every one of them is made by a trusted manufacturer, is sturdy and safe, has the features and benefits a great teething toy and has been tried-and-tested.
But, you DO know your pup and if you keep his preferences, size, breed and personality in mind when choosing, you'll be very happy with the outcome - and so will your puppy.
The three brands of puppy teething toys that I thoroughly recommend are Nylabone, Kong and PetStages. They're well-made, quality toys which are safe, sturdy and tons of fun for your pup too.
There are TONS of toys in each selection, and you'll find some of them in your local Petstore - but the full ranges and the best prices are often found online.
To get you some idea of the variety of great chew toys I'm talking about visit these pages for photos, descriptions and more info (but don't forget to come back here for more tips and advice on picking out the right toy/s for your 'baby'!)
There are specific answers to these questions, so let's take a look at what types of products make the best, safest, and most cost-effective choices right here....
What you're looking for is a toy that's firm but flexible, perhaps with soft areas as well.
Good quality materials, well-constructed.
Not too hard and definitely not brittle
Your pup has the irresistible urge to chew, gnaw, bite and munch on everything because his gums are sore, itchy and uncomfortable.
The firm pressure he feels when chewing on something helps relieve that discomfort or even pain.
Something that's consistently too soft doesn't provide the pressure he needs, but something too hard, or with sharp edges/corners/angles causes more pain rather than less.
Puppies have short attention spans, and their tender little gums can get irritated by too much chomping on firm surfaces at times.
To address both these problems, many individual puppy teething toys are made up of different surfaces (smooth, ridged, knobbly), different materials (rubber, polymers, canvas, fleece, cotton) and different textures (soft, crinkly, crunchy, rough).
Cool Teething Stick
This variety keeps your little guy entertained for longer, and depending on how sore his gums are he can switch back and forth between the different areas of the toy and get enjoyment and relief from each one.
These types of toys are great for active, teething puppies and are excellent value for money because they have a LOT of play value and will become favorites over time.
Cold/Frozen Puppy Toys:
Some toys are specifically designed to be refrigerated or frozen before your pup plays with them. This is a wonderful idea, and the coolness of the toy helps reduce swelling and numb the discomfort - and puppies just seem to LOVE the feeling of playing with these types of products.
Puppy treat toys are usually hugely popular and the smell/taste of the treat (whether it's a paste, shaped treats, or biscuits) keeps your pup interested for a long time! Just make sure it's not too easy for your little guy to get access to the treat and eat it all quickly.
He could end up eating a lot of treats that way, which isn't good for his appetite, teeth or weight.
Well, it might sound glaringly obvious, but in general you want to match the size of toy to the size of your puppy!
Of course, a young pup is going to be small (or small-ish if an X-L or Giant breed), so the biggest toys designed for big adult dogs aren't going to be the best choice even for large breed puppies.
You're going to be looking at the small - medium size range.
Many manufacturers produce individual toy designs in variety of sizes, so that there's one to fit most pets. Not all do this, but many do.
Why Toy Size Is Important:
A toy that's too small for your puppy isn't going to last long and can be downright dangerous. This is because smaller toys are generally not designed to stand up the size of teeth, or strength of jaws, that belong to the pups of extra-large dog breeds .
This means they're likely to be ripped, shredded and even eaten in a relatively short space of time! Dog toys aren't meant to be eaten (apart from the edible-chew varieties of course), and your pup could get an upset stomach, or even an internal blockage from ingesting inappropriate stuff this way.
When it comes to balls, or small hard bones/toys, a large-breed pup could even choke on the XS or Small sizes.
Giving a small or toy breed puppy a puppy teething toy that's too big doesn't present the same dangers, but it also means that your little tiny guy won't get the same benefit or enjoyment from his playthings.
Firstly he probably won't be able to get his mouth comfortably around them and that means he won't get the benefits of consistent pressure on his gums which helps with the teething process.
If the toy has a squeaker,
he probably won't be able to exert enough pressure to produce any noise,
if it's a ball he won't be able to pick it up - maybe he won't even be
able to get any grip on it at all. If it's heavy he won't be able to
carry it around.... you get the picture!
Apart from the need to make sure puppy teething toys are size-appropriate, there really isn't much difference between what works best for small to medium dogs, or for large to giant ones.
The basic designs are a generally a good fit for all puppies in terms of meeting their needs, and keeping them happy and active.
Edible dental treats, bones and so on aren't dangerous in this way (as long as they're used sensibly and your pup doesn't get too many of them), but they don't usually last very long and can cause mild tummy upset in some puppies.
They're a good choice for the occasional treat, can help keep those pearly white teeth clean and even freshen breath. Giving your little one these tasty toys every now and then is a good way to keep him interested and busy, with some added dental benefits as well.
Natural antlers also make good teething toys for puppies. They're interesting shapes, have a variety of textures and surfaces on each antler, are easy for pups to carry around, and seem to have a lot of play value, often becoming a firm favorite.
not strictly-speaking 'edible' toys because they are incredibly strong
and don't break up or get eaten. But as your pup gnaws at them there is
some flavor/scent involved and that makes your little one feel as though
he's eating them!
Do be careful about choosing these though.
You want naturally-shed antlers that have been properly sterilized, to
prevent any health problems.
Lastly, there is one other point that's worth making. As 'mom' to several BIG dogs, I know how much they enjoy 'soft' or 'stuffed' toys, but unfortunately even fairly young puppies from the larger, stronger breeds can make short-shift of the majority of stuffed toys on the market.
There are some sort-of soft toys that can take the heat (see my Indestructable Dog Toys page for info. on the very best tough dog toys available), at least for a period of time, but they're usually not a long-term proposition.
I do let my 'big babies' have these sorts of playthings, but I always watch them while playing with them and take the toy away as soon as the seams rip, stuffing starts to show or there's any noticeable damage. You could do the same thing.
The first thing is to avoid toys that are the wrong size - as I've
covered in the previous paragraphs. After that there are a few other
things to think about. Here are my recommendations and suggestions for
toys that are NOT a good choice.....
Thin, Poor Quality or Cheaply-Made Toys:
Stay away from toys that are made from thin, brittle plastic or thin
rubber. These are often cheap (or cheaper) than the stronger,
better-made designs, mostly because they're made from inferior
materials, or made cheaply without proper attention to detail.
Puppy teeth (regardless of size) are razor-sharp and can puncture and tear thin rubber very easily. Then the toy gets ripped into pieces, which are often swallowed. Thin, brittle plastic can be cracked or broken without too much effort, and often results in lots of small, sharp pieces.
These can hurt your puppy's mouth, and if he swallows them they can do some serious internal damage.
Soft toys who's seams aren't reinforced, or who have loose or poorly anchored details such as eyes, ears, tails, paws etc. can be a choking hazard.
Certain Types of Ball:
Hard rubber or plastic balls need to be big enough that they can't be swallowed (or get stuck at the back of your dog's mouth). Stay away from soft rubber balls because chunks can get torn out of them.
Most tennis balls are a no-no too as your pup is likely to eat the fuzzy outside coating and then rip up the main body of the ball.
Rawhide, Chew-Flips, Bully Sticks:
Rawhide, chew-flips, bully sticks and so on CAN make good puppy chew toys, but you need to exercise caution here and use your knowledge of your own pup before deciding whether or not they're right for him.
Some pups will chew/tear large chunks off the main body of rawhide toys and chew-flips, and those can be dangerous - causing gagging, choking or internal obstruction.
Natural bones are often popular with adult dogs, and puppies love them too. But they are often very hard and can break or damage baby puppy teeth.
If you have an adolescent or adult power-chewer they can even break adult dog teeth, so bear that in mind.
It's really a personal decision as to whether or not you think they're a good fit for your teething puppy.
If you do get one, take a look inside
your little one's mouth regularly to make sure he's not doing any damage
to his teeth.