We’ve all been there. You give your pup a brand new toy, expecting it to become his best friend for years to come… but then he loves the toy a little too much.
And within split seconds, there’s stuffing flying everywhere.
While the “crime scene” may look hilarious, the possible consequences are anything but that. If consumed, stuffing can be incredibly harmful for dogs and even put their lives at risk.
Below, we’ll explain the dangers animal toy stuffing presents, highlight some of the reasons why dogs do this, and detail what you should do if you catch your dog nomming on stuffing.
We’ll also point out a few ways you can prevent your pup from doing so again in the future.
Key Takeaways: Can Dogs Eat Animal Toy Stuffing?
- Dogs should not be allowed to eat animal toy stuffing. Stuffed toys are generally safe for dogs to enjoy under supervision, but always take these toys away once the stuffing becomes accessible.
- You’ll need to watch your pup carefully if he does consume any animal toy stuffing. Some dogs will pass the filling, but others may suffer serious health problems that’ll require your vet’s help.
- For safety’s sake, you may want to consider stuffed toy alternatives. However, there are also a few things you can do to help keep your dog safe if you do choose to give him a stuffed toy.
Can Dogs Eat Animal Toy Stuffing?
Dogs should never be allowed to eat animal toy stuffing — or any other form of stuffing for that matter — and you should do everything possible to prevent it from happening.
Stuffing is typically made from materials that can’t be digested properly (or safely), which can lead to blockages and other health issues.
What Will Happen if a Dog Eats Animal Toy Stuffing?
It’s not necessarily a cause for panic if your dog eats animal toy stuffing; some four-footers manage to pass small amounts of stuffing without issue, typically within 10 to 24 hours.
However, for other pups it can lead to complications like an upset stomach, choking, abdominal pain, or even life-threatening bowel obstructions.
The risk can vary depending on your dog’s size and the amount of stuffing ingested.
For example, if a small Chihuahua eats a whole load of stuffing, he’s much more likely to experience problems than a Great Dane who consumes the same amount.
Some animal toy stuffings are also treated with toxic chemicals during production, which can cause additional complications. This is especially the case in cheap imported toys (many companies based overseas fail to follow strict manufacturing and safety policies).
What Should You Do if Your Dog Eats Animal Toy Stuffing?
Before anything else, you need to stop your dog from eating more stuffing.
There’s a few ways you can achieve this, though the best method will ultimately depend on what your dog responds to and tolerates:
- Gain his attention and use his “leave it” or “drop it” command.
- If you have high-value treats, try to make a trade.
- Gently open your pup’s mouth and try to remove any stuffing stuck at the front (use your thumb and finger). Only do this if you feel safe to do so and are certain he won’t lash out. Don’t try to remove any stuffing at the back of his mouth or throat, as this may push it further down. It can also startle him and cause him to jerk abruptly, potentially leading to injuries.
- Avoid running after your pooch if he has stuffing in his mouth. Doing so will simply make him feel like it’s a game of chase, and he’ll likely run away from you. It’ll also encourage him to swallow the stuffing quicker.
When your dog drops the stuffing — or unfortunately swallows it — quickly collect any other stuffing and toy remnants laying around.
But don’t throw away any of the remnants you pick up; they’ll help you assess the exact amount of stuffing your dog has ingested.
It’ll also help you determine whether he may have eaten any other parts, like the animal eyes or zippers.
Once you’re certain your dog isn’t able to consume more stuffing, immediately contact your vet and explain the situation.
Make sure to mention the size of your dog, and how much stuffing (or toy parts) you believe he has consumed.
Follow the advice provided — the vet may encourage you to visit the office immediately, or to monitor your dog carefully over the next two to three days.
No matter what your vet advises, you should keep a close watch on your dog and immediately contact your vet again if he exhibits any of these troubling signs:
- Severe diarrhea
- Straining/inability to poop
- Blood in the stool
- Panicked behavior
- Loss of appetite
- Pawing at his mouth
- Excessive drooling
If your dog is choking (signs like retching and hacking) and you’re unable to remove the stuffing from his mouth, perform a heimlich maneuver and get a family member to contact a vet immediately.
Do your best to remain calm.
While it can be tempting, never try to induce vomiting at home without first consulting a veterinarian. Certain parts of toys, like zippers and sharp cords, can potentially cause internal injuries when vomited.
Unless otherwise directed by your vet, you should also avoid giving your dog any food until he passes the stuffing.
Why Do Dogs Eat Animal Toy Stuffing?
Dogs love to chew.
To them, stuffing isn’t something dangerous, but rather a “fun” texture they can nom on to relieve their chewing urges. Animal toys in particular also trigger their prey drive.
In the past, dogs had to hunt for their food, often including small animals. While they no longer need to hunt, they still have that instinctual desire to.
Aside from chasing after squirrels, ripping apart and “killing” animal plush toys (which resemble prey) is the next best thing to satisfy that desire.
Unfortunately, this in turn causes them to pull out (and nom) on a toy’s stuffing!
Other reasons why your canine might eat animal toy stuffing include:
- Boredom: Left to their own devices, our doggos turn to various ways to keep themselves entertained and mentally stimulated. Some tend to be more destructive than others (like those who enjoy ripping up animal toys…).
- Catch your attention: Your dog might’ve learned that chewing on stuffing gains your attention, especially if you’ve chased after him in the past (he likely thinks it’s a game). This is a form of reinforced behavior, and to prevent it you’ll need to show your dog alternative, healthier ways to gain your attention.
- Anxiety: Dogs suffering from anxiety may rip apart toys as a means to self-soothe and relieve distress.
- Prey drive: Dogs with a high prey drive may be more liable to rip open and eat the stuffing of a toy, as dissecting is an essential part of the predatory sequence for dogs.
Are Stuffed Toys Safe for Dogs?
Some dogs can safely enjoy stuffed toys under supervision, but others cannot.
It ultimately depends on how your pooch interacts with stuffed toys.
They’re generally safe for light chewers who don’t have a history of shredding things to pieces, and also for dogs who respond well to the “drop it” and “leave it” commands.
On the other hand, you don’t want to give an aggressive chewer a stuffed toy, as he’ll likely tear it apart (and devour the stuffing) within minutes.
Stuffed toys also aren’t safe for dogs who play rough, love to thrash, or pull apart stitching.
Another consideration is your dog’s size.
Small dogs are more likely to choke on stuffing and experience intestinal blockages than large dogs. So, stuffed toys are better suited to big breeds, like golden retrievers, Labradors, and poodles.
Of course, if you have a small dog that chews lightly, a stuffed toy can still be perfectly safe as long as you keep our safety tips in mind (see below).
Stuffed Dog Toy Alternatives
If you want to avoid the risks associated with stuffing, there are plenty of dog toy alternatives you can try. You’re sure to find an option that suits your pup’s chewing habits, needs, and playstyle.
- Puzzle toys: These toys put your dog’s brain to work. They come in a whole range of styles and difficulties, meaning you can find a toy that’s challenging for your pup, but not so challenging it becomes frustrating.
- Lickimat: LickiMats are great for curbing boredom and can even help slow down fast eaters.
- Rope toys: When properly used, these versatile toys will keep your pooch entertained for hours on end. They’re also fun to shake, thrash, and pull – all qualities that make them great for tug of war.
- Bully sticks: These chews are digestible, long-lasting, and won’t splinter when chewed (just don’t think about the fact that they’re made out of dried bull penis…).
- Treat-dispensing balls: This is technically a type of puzzle toy, but we feel it deserves its own spot on this list. After all, it combines your dog’s two favorite things: fetch and treats!
- Flirt poles: If your doggo is a bundle of energy, he’ll definitely appreciate a flirt pole toy. It’s basically like a cat feather teaser, but designed with a dog’s size, mouth, and agility in mind.
- Teething toys: These toys are specially designed to relieve sore gums, teething pains, and irritation, but they are also awesome for typical chompin’..
- Water toys: If your dog has a natural affinity for the water, why not honor his passion with a water-friendly toy?
Just note that a lot of the toys featured above aren’t suitable for aggressive chewers.
But don’t worry, if your doggo is a fluffy shredder, you won’t have to (and shouldn’t) cut toys out of his life. We’ve tried to help you by compiling a list of toys designed to withstand tough chewing and heavy thrashing.
Be aware that while every toy comes with its own advantages, toys also come with their own risks. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the possible dangers — and decide if the toy is going to be safe for your dog — before committing.
Stuffed Animal Dog Toy Safety Tips
While it’s not always possible to prevent your dog from nomming on stuffing, there are some steps you can take to minimize the chances of it happening:
- Always supervise your dog. You should always keep a close eye on your pooch whenever he’s chewing on a stuffed animal toy, even if he has never torn through a toy before.
- Keep high-value treats on hand. If your dog does manage to rip apart his toy, you can use the treats to divert his attention, or as a “trade” if he has stuffing in his mouth.
- Teach your pup the “leave it” and “drop it” commands. These commands are truly lifesaving, as they enable you to quickly redirect your dog’s attention and ignore whatever he has his eye on.
- Ensure toys are size appropriate. Don’t give your dog toys that are too small for him — if the toy can fit fully inside his mouth, it can pose a choking hazard.
- Inspect the stuffed animal toy. Check for signs of wear and tear after each play session. Replace the toy if you notice any rips, peeling, weak stitching, or loose parts.
- Wash toys regularly. Look: It’s an understatement that dog toys get messy. They accumulate a whole load of saliva, dirt, and debris over time. It’s good practice to wash toys regularly, ideally once a week, to keep things hygienic and prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria.
- Buy from reputable dog toy brands. Cheap toys might be affordable, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. They’re often flimsy, made from poor quality materials, and don’t go through stringent safety protocols. Some cheap toys also contain stuffing that’s treated with toxic chemicals.
Can Dogs Eat Animal Toy Stuffing: FAQ
Stuffed animal toys can be a great source of entertainment and help your dog relieve his chewing urges. However, they also come with potential risks, especially if your pup is an aggressive chewer.
Below, we’ve answered some common questions owners have about animal toy stuffing. We’ll also unpack some of the safety concerns of these types of toys.
Is the stuffing from stuffed animals safe for dogs?
Stuffing can’t be digested and isn’t safe. If your dog happens to consume it, he may experience stomach issues, abdominal pain, and even a bowel obstruction (blockage). Stuffing can also pose a choking hazard if it gets stuck in your dog’s throat.
With that said, the stuffing will only be accessible to your dog if he manages to chew through the toy. Always supervise your pup during his play sessions.
What toy stuffing is safe for dogs?
Stuffing in its usual form isn’t safe for dogs. You can find plenty of “stuffing” alternatives on the market though. A popular option is to buy a hollowed-out toy, and stuff it with treats, kibble, or dog-friendly food pastes.
Is toy stuffing toxic or poisonous to dogs?
Almost all dog toys contain non-toxic stuffing. However, cheap imported dog toys sometimes contain stuffing which has been treated with toxic chemicals during the manufacturing process. Always try to buy from reputable, high-quality brands.
What should you do if your dog eats toy stuffing?
If your dog eats toy stuffing, you should immediately tell him to “drop it”, pick up any other toy remnants, and contact your local veterinarian. If safe to do so, you should also remove stuffing stuck at the front of your dog’s mouth.
Animal toy stuffing can be dangerous if ingested, but taking necessary safety precautions, and teaching your dog critical commands like “leave it” and “drop it,” can help minimize the risks.
Has your dog ever had a bad experience with toy stuffing? How did you prevent it from happening again in the future? Let us (and fellow pup parents) know in the comments down below! We’d love to hear about it.