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Buying toys for your puppy is one of the most fun things about being a puppy owner, but there are some things to keep in mind, especially when it comes to safety. Dogs love squeaker toys! They deliver mass excitement and squeaker toys are generally inexpensive. But are they safe or are squeaker toys dangerous?

Are dog toys with squeakers safe for dogs?

The safety of squeaker toys varies from one toy to the next. However, you need to consider a couple of factors when considering the safety of a squeaker toy. 

Squeaker toys should be purpose-made for dogs

When shopping for a squeaker toy for your puppy, it’s important that you only purchase those specifically designed for dogs, and not for babies or some other purpose.

One reason for this is that the squeaker mechanism inside the toy may be a choking risk – which is the highest concern when it comes to any squeaker toy.

In fact, a badly designed squeaker toy presents several dangers to your dog. Puppies, especially teething puppies, are more likely to chew them to bits and swallow what they chew.

Broken shards of plastic can cause puncture wounds and, if swallowed, can cause impaction, tummy upset, or get stuck in their throat.

In addition, the rubber or plastics used in the rest of the toy could present additional risks. While there is a clear choking hazard when your dog tears up a toy, they can also ingest large quantities of microplastics.

These tiny particles have a very nasty way of mimicking hormones. Dogs can ingest them through fish-based foods, but also through items in their environment.

There is limited research regarding dog exposure to plastic particles, but some cases correlate with the symptoms seen in humans. 

Too many microplastics on the endocrine system can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and reproductive health in humans.

dog chewing squeaking toy

Squeaker toys should be the right size for your dog 

Buying the right-sized squeaker toy online is a challenge, and many sellers don’t provide detailed specifications for their products.

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In general, look for products that specify the material the squeaker toy is made from as well as the size. 

As a general rule, the toy should not be so big your puppy can’t pick it up and it should not be so small it could be swallowed.

This means getting an idea for the size of a toy that can fit in your puppy’s mouth, but not all the way. So they should be able to carry and hold the toy, without their entire mouth being able to close over it. 

The quality and density of the squeaker toy material

Quality and material is an essential consideration when shopping for dog squeaky toys. Even when the toy is purpose-made, a toy that your dog can rip to bits is still a choking hazard and presents a risk to the gastrointestinal system.

It can be difficult to judge an item’s quality without seeing it in person, but as a rule of thumb, a pricier squeaker with good reviews is your best bet. Beware of cheap and nasty products, as these will likely be less safe for your dog.

It’s also vital to consider the size and power of your puppy’s jaws before getting a squeaky toy.

The high-pitched sound of the squeak typically gets most dogs’ attention, and for many breeds, it can trigger their prey drive. This means that some puppies are more inclined to grab it, gnaw on it, chase it, or generally tear it apart. 

This can be a tool for an experienced trainer to engage their puppy’s attention. However, jaw strength and tenacity can play a huge role here in the squeaker toy’s safety.

A breed with a strong prey drive and powerful jaws such as a Rottweiler or American Pit Bull Terrier can make short work of the average squeaky tennis ball, and they often swallow a large chunk of it before you get it back from them (if you get anything back at all). 

On the other hand, a more laid-back puppy with little prey drive, like a Shih Tzu, may have limited interest in the squeaking and lack the jaw strength to destroy the same toy. So the average squeaker ball simply won’t present the same problems.

dog squeakers choking hazard

Are dog squeakers a choking hazard?

If your dog can fit the entire squeaker toy in its mouth, then it is a choking hazard. Indeed, that is true of any dog toy, however, squeaker toys are arguably riskier than most other toys as the squeaker inside can also become a choking hazard.

Therefore, supervision is the best way to protect your dog from choking on a squeaker.

For information on stuffing dog toys and the hazards that owners should be aware of, you can read that article here.

Are squeak toys bad for dogs?

Aside from problems related to ingesting squeaker toys, there is no reason to think that squeaker toys are inherently bad for dogs. That said, dogs can respond differently to squeakers, which can sometimes be negative.

Some dogs become hyperactive when they hear squeaker toys, leading to behavioral problems if left unchecked. They may also become aggressive at the sound, which can cause more serious and more immediate problems.

For the most part, dog squeaking toys are only bad if your dog can chew them apart or swallow them whole. 

What are dog squeakers made of?

Most inexpensive dog squeak toys consist of flexible plastics such as vinyl, more commonly known as PVC. Some are made of rubber, although these are also synthetic polymers. 

That means that they fall into the same broader category as plastics and carry many of the same risks. 

The ‘best’ dog squeakers contain only natural rubber. 

Natural rubber is made of plants and falls under natural polymers called isoprenes. We non-scientists know natural rubber as latex. 

As long as your dog isn’t allergic to latex (latex allergy is rare in dogs), this is the safest material for making dog toys. 

It is important to know that there is no regulatory oversight for the production of dog toys. Unfortunately, that means that an unscrupulous manufacturer can use any material they choose, no matter the potential health risks.

dog squeaker hurt ears

Do squeaky toys hurt dogs’ ears?

Squeaky toys are generally safe for dogs’ ears. Naturally, canine ears are far more sensitive to ours, as they can hear up to between 47,000 to 65,000 H while humans can only hear up 20 kHz.

This is why dog whistles are often outside a human range of hearing. However, in general, even if the high-pitched noise is irritating to us, squeaky toys are not dangerous to dogs, as they can hear sounds at much higher frequencies.

What may happen is that squeaky toys can mimic the sound of dying or crying young animals, and this causes excitement for most dogs. High-pitched noises, in general, can cause varying degrees of hyperarousal.

Most of the time, this simply means a dog becomes curious or wants to play. In some cases, this excitement can lead to a fear or even an aggressive response, although this is extremely rare.

Anxious or fear aggressive dogs can have noise phobias. However, this is usually caused by overwhelming sounds such as thunder or firecrackers.

Theoretically, dog squeakers spark a noise phobia, but this is highly unusual

Why do dogs like squeaky sounds?

We can’t say for certain, but there is a consensus that it is instinctive. Squeaky toys make a noise that arguably sounds like the prey consumed by dogs’ ancestors. Dogs tend to respond to high-pitched noises with curiosity and excitement. Even speaking to dogs in a higher pitch can lead to more excitement. 

For most dogs, the sound is an attention grabber. Chewing, playing tug, or running after the squeaky toy can also connect the sound with the action of playing or attention, making the squeaky sounds positive for them. 

What to do when your dog eats a squeaker

Squeaker toys are more dangerous toys for a dog to swallow. If you suspect your dog swallowed a squeaker, you should take your dog to the vet immediately. 

Depending on the size, age, and breed of your dog, your vet has only about one to two hours to intervene before the squeaker reaches their intestinal tract. If your dog is big and the squeaker was very small, your vet might recommend allowing them to pass it naturally.

Will a dog pass a squeaker?

A large dog could pass a small squeaker, but you should consult your vet before going this route. 

Medium and small breeds might not be able to pass a squeaker naturally. 

Best dog squeaky toys

There are squeaky toys that offer a lot of precautions in the materials they use, the size they make, or the toy’s durability.

Here are our top three picks of quality, squeaky toys made for dogs, which we chose not only for the quality, but also size, and the likelihood of the squeaker being torn out:

ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz No Stuffing Squeaky Plush Dog Toys, 3-pack, Large

ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz have been around for a while now and have excellent reviews. They are also very affordable.
Shop Now

Frisco Latex Squeaky Alligator Dog Toy

This alligator is a good size and at only a tad of $6 is a value buy.
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Outward Hound Invincibles Snakes Blue/Green Squeaky Stuffing-Free Plush Dog Toy

These are made well and make it tough for your dog to get to the squeaker. A good size and a good brand ensures a certain level of quality.
Shop Now

Final Word

Squeaky dog toys have long been a favorite dog toy. However, several factors make them a potential health risk. 

While squeaky toys designed for humans present the biggest risk to dogs, even purpose-designed versions can still be risky. 

There is no regulatory oversight for the dog toy industry. Therefore, one has to be cautious when buying squeakers online.

The main factors are size, durability, and purpose. Quality dog squeaker toys use natural rubber (latex). Some dogs are allergic to natural rubber, but it is uncommon, and it is easy usually easy to treat before it becomes too serious.

Sources

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/safe-dog-toys#:~:text=Toys%20that%20are%20too%20small,ingest%20it%20if%20left%20unwatched.&text=Soft%20toys%20should%20be%20machine%20washable.

https://www.petplusvet.com/5117/dog-toys-to-avoid/#:~:text=The%20safest%20dog%20toys%20are,they%20can%20be%20choking%20hazards.

https://www.britannica.com/science/rubber-chemical-compound 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/synthetic-rubber

https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/why-do-dogs-squeaky-toys