Dog Toy Maintenance
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
Dog toys are not just a luxury for your dog, they are necessary. They help fight boredom and separation anxiety, they help your dog get the exercise he needs, they are a good replacement for improper behavior, and they are fun! However, you have to keep an eye on your dog’s toys so they do not become hazardous to your dog’s health.
Make it a habit to keep all your dog’s toys in one place, so you can periodically examine them for wear and cleanliness. You can even teach your dog a “put your toys away” command, which is a fun way for you and your dog to tidy the house together. A dog Toy Box is great for this.
Toys to Toss
Regularly inspect your dog’s toys for signs of excessive wear. Any toys which are significantly smaller than they were when they were new should be thrown out, as should any toys which your dog has been obviously eating. Stuffed toys that have been ripped apart should be thrown out, as should toys with dangling string or small parts. Toys with an especially foul odor, even after washing in hot water should be tossed as well.
Cleaning Nylon and Rubber Toys
You can use a Toy Cleaning Brush or old toothbrush to remove excess grime from nylon and rubber toys, and you can wash them by hand with dish soap and hot water. You can also throw these toys in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle with no detergent. The hot water and pressure will remove grime and sterilize the toy. Check the toy’s packaging, or contact the manufacturer to be sure it is safe to wash in the dishwasher.
Cleaning Stuffable Toys
Your dog’s Kongs and other stuffable toys should be washed after every time you stuff them with food. Food particles work their way in to all the nooks and crannies of these toys and can harbor tons of dangerous bacteria. Use dish soap, hot water and a toy cleaning brush or old toothbrush to de-grime your dog’s treat toys. Most of these toys can be washed on the top rack in your dishwasher as well, which will truly sanitize the toy. Check the toy’s packaging, or contact the manufacturer to be sure it is safe to wash in the dishwasher.
Cleaning Soft/Plush Toys
Soft toys, like rope toys can also be put in the dishwasher on the hot cycle. You can sterilize them even more thoroughly by wetting them and putting them in the microwave for a full minute. Be careful removing these toys from the microwave; they will be extremely hot. Again, check the toy’s packaging, or contact the manufacturer to be sure it is safe to wash in the dishwasher or microwave.
Most stuffed animal toys can be put in the washing machine, and some can even be put in the dryer. My personal principle for my dog’s stuffed toys is, if it’s not sturdy enough to hold up in the washer and dryer, it isn’t sturdy enough for my Beagle anyway.