Whether you just adopted a new puppy or you want to buy your dog a fun new toy as a special treat, you may be wondering: are rope toys safe for dogs? You’ve seen them on display in pet supply stores, but you might have heard mixed opinions regarding their safety. Learn the truth about rope toys and why it might be better to choose a different plaything for your pup.
Why Rope Toys Are Hazardous for Dogs
If your dog loves to disembowel stuffed animals and decimate Frisbee, he isn’t just ripping these toys apart—he’s eating a portion of them. A majority of the time, foreign objects pass through your dog’s digestive system without a problem. In fact, you might not even know your pet ate something he shouldn’t have. However, in rare instances, swallowing foreign objects can cause serious, even life-threatening problems to your dog’s digestive system.
If your dog is chewing on a rope toy, he’s likely eating parts of that rope toy, too. Swallowing strands of rope is much more dangerous than eating chunks of rubber, plastic, or cotton stuffing. Vets describe these strands as “linear foreign bodies,” which are the most harmful objects an animal can swallow.
If your dog has eaten part of a rope toy, schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian as soon as possible.
What Happens if My Dog Eats a Rope Toy?
If your dog slurps down a long piece of spaghetti-like rope, one end may travel as far as the upper intestines, while the other end remains caught in the stomach. As your dog’s digestive system attempts to move the object through the body, the strand tightens and the intestines cinch like a drawstring on sweatpants.
As you might guess, this is very painful for your dog. Left untreated, the strand may draw the intestines into a tight ball, and lacerations may develop where the rope digs into the intestinal wall.
Even if your dog doesn’t completely destroy his toys, he may sit and chew happily on a tug-of-war rope, shredding off and eating tiny strands at a time. This isn’t as dangerous as swallowing long strings, but it can still cause blockages in your dog’s intestines, like hairs clogging a shower drain.
What to Do if Your Dog Has Eaten Strings from a Rope Toy
If you think your dog has eaten strings from a rope toy, you should call your veterinarian right away. Dogs must often undergo surgery if their intestines become cinched or blocked by strands from a rope toy.
Tragically, many pet owners don’t recognize the problem until it’s too late to save the animal. So if you think there’s a chance your dog may have eaten part of a rope toy, you should make an appointment right away.
Dogs that do undergo surgery must cope with the ordeal of an hours-long operation required to remove the obstruction. The recovery period can also be arduous, especially when it comes to feeding your dog while his digestive system heals.
Avoid the Dangers of Rope Toys
You might assume rope toys aren’t as dangerous if you only allow supervised play with a rope toy. This is certainly better than leaving your dog alone with a rope toy, but it’s still impossible to tell how much he might be stripping off and eating from it.
Ultimately, it’s not worth risking your dog’s health and well-being to let him play with rope toys, even if these are his favorite. Your job as a responsible pet owner is to find safe toys for your dog to enjoy. You’re sure to find another type of plaything your pooch loves just as much without the hazards of possibly swallowing strands of rope.