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? 🙂