Something that has always concerned me came to the forefront recently. Pamela at Something Wagging This Way Comes mentioned that her Golden Retriever Honey had once had surgery to have a squeaker from a stuffed dog toy removed from her intestines. I searched back on her blog to find the original story to find out the details. Honey got through her surgery fine, but it doesn’t work out that way for every dog. Another blog I enjoy, No Dog About It, posted a story just this week of a rescued dog who was in foster care, who tragically died after complications from two surgeries to remove a squeaker from his intestines.
My fear with my dogs, especially Sheba, who lives to tear apart plush toys, was that she would try to swallow a squeaker and choke on it. Now all this has brought to my attention the fact that choking is not the only concern. Often dogs, especially puppies, will ingest inappropriate things. One time my sister’s dog Bear swallowed a whole young man’s sock at a family party. Someone went to take it away from him, and down it went! Luckily for them, even though it took a while, that sock eventually came back up. It is very hard to believe that he did not choke on that. It is totally believable then that a squeaker could go down a dog’s throat without getting stuck. Most dogs would probably vomit it back up, or it would pass through, but that is not always the case.
When Sheba and the other dogs were younger, destroying and unstuffing toys and other things, such as bed comforters, was a pastime for them. We always tried to keep a close eye on them, so that when a toy started to come apart, it got taken away. We thought they would outgrow this habit, but they did not. So for a time we stopped buying stuffed toys. We had tried every supposed tough, indestructible toy we could find. We finally settled on the Zogoflex toys from West Paw Design, which seemed to hold up the best. But we knew that Moses especially still missed having stuffed toys to carry around, and he was missing out because of his sister. West Paw also makes stuffed toys, they are a bit more expensive, but they are made in the USA of all safe materials. But they do have a squeaker, so we continue to have to monitor them closely. We also found some less expensive stuffed toys from Drs. Foster & Smith, which are of good quality, but also have squeakers.
I’m sure a lot of you know that even with good intentions, sometimes you just aren’t watching your dogs every minute, and things happen. Our Sheba is a silly girl and when she has something in her mouth that she knows she shouldn’t, she likes to prance around and act foolish. I can take one look at her wiggling butt, and the funny way her mouth looks and know that she has something she shouldn’t. On at least one occasion that thing was a squeaker. Again, luckily for us, Sheba listens to the “give” command most of the time, or I just hauled her mouth open and stuck my hand in there to get it out (I honestly don’t remember which way it went that time). Thank goodness she didn’t defiantly swallow the item before I could get it out.
It has come to my attention lately, that when Sheba chews on a stuffed toy, she is trying her hardest to get that squeaker out. She will actually work at maneuvering the squeaker into a position right by a seam where she can then chew a hole and get it! So now I inspect the toys often and if I know she’s getting close to being able to get it out, I cut it open and take the squeaker out myself. I let them have it back and they still work on destuffing it for a bit; since they don’t eat the stuffing. But once they get to that point, they usually get thrown away soon after.
In light of these new stories I have now read, I am even more concerned about the stuffed toys. As diligent as we might be, my husband and I are both getting older and our memories aren’t all they used to be. My concern is that we forget to pick up the stuffed toys when we leave the house, or we get distracted by company, or the computer, or whatever else, and something gets by us. The scary thing in the stories I mentioned in the beginning is that if you don’t realize they’ve swallowed a squeaker, they can seem fine for some time before the symptoms of an obstruction show up.
I have often wondered over the years why every stuffed dog toy I have ever had has a squeaker in it. I understand that the squeakers make these toys more attractive to dogs, and I also understand that not all dogs destroy their toys as ours do. But certainly a lot of them do. I’m not going to get up on my soapbox and demand that we now try to outlaw squeakers in toys, but I would like more people to be aware of the serious problems they can cause for some dogs. I know that most toys give warnings that your dog should be supervised when playing with them. I just wonder why the manufacturers of dog toys aren’t more aware of the problems for some dogs, and don’t make more non-squeaker options? I also read that there are some dogs that don’t even like squeakers! Many companies are now making unstuffed plush toys, but they still have squeakers in them. I believe that West Paw Design at least sews in the squeaker, in a little pouch, but I still don’t think that deters a determined dog such as Sheba, even though it may slow her down a bit. It at least gives me more time to catch her and get it taken away.
My hubby likes to tease me and suggested that I remove the squeakers when I buy the toy and then sew them back up. He knows how much I hate sewing, and how bad I am at it. So I will continue to search for the elusive squeaker-less stuffed toy, and would appreciate it if anyone knows of any, to please share! I am somewhat picky also and I only buy toys/treats made in the USA, and I need to know that they are made with safe materials (yes, I know that does not make things easier!). In the meantime, do I take away all the toys they now have and love, or do I trust hubby and myself to keep a close eye on things? Or am I going to have to bite the bullet and take up the dreaded sewing? 🙂
Paula Warke says
I have only found this blog. It is very frustrating trying to find a squeakless toy. One of our collies is terrified of squeaks but gentle with toys, however his sister destroys everything and will eat the stuffing. We need more soft, durable squeakless toys.
We sure do! I really should update this post, but other than no longer having Sheba to destroy toys, not much has changed since I originally wrote it. I still have not found a good squeaker-less toy that dogs really enjoy. I have tried some different rope toys, Luke seems to like the squirrel from Jax and Bones pretty well. With just one dog now it is a little easier to keep an eye on him. I have found with him (and it was the same with Sheba) that if they can’t make headway into destroying the toy, they lose interest quickly! While West Paw’s Zogoflex would still be my first choice, he just doesn’t love them.
Thanks for finding us and commenting!
I’m so happy to hear I’m not the only one looking for squeakless, unstuffed dog toys. My golden is 13 months and has yet not to destroy every single toy (except for deer horns). I tried killing the squeakers but she still tore the toy up to get it out. She doesn’t get any soft toys anymore until I find the ones that aren’t going to possibly hurt her. Will keep posted for information.
We did find some kong toys that squeak but I don’t think they have the actual squeakers in them. But when I got them home I realized they were made China, which was disappointing. I have yet to try the unstuffed stuffies, which someone mentioned in comments, but I’m not sure where they’re made either. I wish I could tell you that your Golden would outgrow it….she might, but that just wasn’t our experience! Although lately Sheba hasn’t been as destructive, so maybe there is hope!
I’m still always on the lookout!
Thanks for coming by and commenting, Pam!
My solution is to buy the Kong unstuffed stuffies where the squeakers are in little velcro pockets and are totally removable…Gizmo has two of their snakes and loves them..
Thank you so much! I am going to look for those!
Roxy the traveling dog says
Torrey did that as a puppy, and I have sewed up many stuffed toys. Thankfully, she gave that up, and now just likes to squeak them.
Oh, I am glad that Torrey outgrew it, I really wish my goldens had (they are 8 now so I don’t see much hope). I know they love the squeak….because if one of them squeaks the toy the others will come running from the other room to see who’s squeaking!
After what happened to Matt, I have become worried about squeakers too. Jasper and Cupcake love to tear apart their stuffed toys as well, but they always leave the squeaker on the floor. But, then I have to worry about Daisy, who loves to pick up things like that and chew on them. I haven’t decided what to do, but maybe what some of my other friends are doing is best. They’re going to the local Goodwill and getting the stuffed toys that don’t have squeakers. Many of them are made for children so they don’t have squeakers.
I’m glad I’m not the only one to be worried. So sad that Matt’s death had to be the cause for my new knowledge. 🙁
BTW – I had no idea Honey had suffered the same thing. I am so glad she is okay. How scary.
At least if we try to share Matt’s story, some good will come of it if it helps to save the same thing from happening to other dogs.
Our other dogs also like to de-stuff the toys, though Sheba is the worst, but I have never caught the other dogs with a squeaker either. Goodwill is a good idea too.
For a while all we did was give Moses some old hand towels to chew on, since it gave him something to carry around, but then we had to worry about all the threads when he started to really chew on them!
Sometimes it’s so hard to find the balance between keeping our pets safe, and keeping them happy also.
At our house mom usually kills the squeakers. She forgets and washes them and then they squeak no more. Us dogs have never removed a squeaker.
That is funny, Emma. You are good dogs that you have never removed any!
You could try giving them stuffed toys that are made for human infants (only fabric eyes, etc.)…nothing to be swallowed. I’m sure they’ll destroy them in seconds, but maybe as a fun (short-lived) gift on special occasions, that could help? I know my dogs have ALWAYS gone after every stuffed animal my son ever had. They’re a lot less expensive, too. I also don’t buy anything made in China these days (and that’s getting harder to find for infants as well).
That’s a good idea, Sheryl, I will have to look at some of those infant toys. I would hope if they are safe for babies, they would be safe for dogs….though they probably wouldn’t anticipate a baby pulling the stuffing out and possibly eating it! LOL
I keep trying to teach my dogs that there are consequences for their action. Tear up a favorite toy and you no longer have it. So far my logic eludes them, but I’ll let you know if I have a breakthrough.
Yes, please do, Jan! Ours don’t really seem to understand that if they start tearing a toy apart we are going to take it away. It’s the same thing if they start to fight over one…yet, both things still happen!