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Toys are fun but make sure they are pet-safe

Yulia Khouri / Khmer Times Share:
This needle with about 3 metres of thread attached to it was swallowed by a cat while she was playing with her owner’s sewing kit. It was later removed by Animal Mama’s surgeons. Lee Fox-Smith

It may not sound like a real concern for others. But for pet parents, finding safe toys for our pets remains one of our most important agenda.

Our pets are left alone at home or in the garden most of the time. When boredom strikes on them, our pets can be quite destructive. Cats scratch sofas, knock off our vases and break crystal glasses. Dogs dig large holes in the yard, chew up our best pair of shoes and uproot our precious flower beds. But more than these damages, these animals may harm themselves, too. They can swallow things that may eventually lead to more serious problems and complications.

We recently handled serious cases of foreign object obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract of two pets. One was a dog that swallowed a huge stone while playing fetch. The other one was a cat that swallowed a needle with about 3 metres of thread attached to it while she was playing with her owner’s sewing kit.

We were able to remove the objects successfully. But the needle just did too much damage while traveling down the digestive tract of the cat. She died five days after the surgery. The dog, Stella, survived and is now living happily with his owners.

Now here’s the problem: with us being normal people who also have other responsibilities other than being pet parents, how do we ensure that our loved animals do not destroy things and harm themselves in the process of “self-entertainment” while we are away?

First rule is to never assume that our pets are smart enough to decipher what toys are safe to play with. When they are bored, trust me, everything seems a good subject for playing and chewing.

Although it might be impossible to completely stop our pets from taking things into their mouths, we can keep an eye on what they are chewing. Avoid keeping too many pet toys lying around them, and try to keep kids’ toys, clothing and underwear away from the pets’ reach. Ensure, too, that fruit stones, corn on the cobs and cooked bones are disposed securely so that your pets won’t have access to them. Do not play ball with your pets using small balls and stones as they might see them as edible and safe.

Talking about bones, choosing a safe and good bone remains a hot subject for debate among pet owners until now. While cats and dogs instinctively enjoy a good chewy bone, their ability to properly digest becomes another major issue.

We had cases of dogs brought to the clinic after having bovine ribs for their dinners. The dogs suffered from severe constipations that it eventually had to be surgically resolved.

We also had plenty of cats with fish and splintered chicken bones stuck in their tongues and throats, which also required surgical intervention. The bones are natural source of calcium and phosphorous, but I prefer to cook the bones until they are completely soft, minced and palatable for the pets. This eradicates the risk of splinters and constipation, but retains all the health and nutritional benefits for our pets.

For our dog pack, I almost exclusively use Kong as a toy of choice. The original Kong is very hardy and is not easy to destroy. It also provides hours of chewy, bouncy entertainment for our dogs. Pet parents can use it as a fetch toy in the park. Stuffing it with chicken or peanut butter can also be good for the pets’ hours of tasty, chewy and safe distraction.

The safety levels of original Kong are impeccable and it lasts for a long time before needing a replacement. Kong is also soft enough so the dog is safe from any teeth damage while chewing it. Just a reminder, choose the right size for your pet dogs.

Luckily for cat owners, cats are easier to please as they prefer to spend much of their time lounging around and napping during the day. However, this does not mean you can be a lenient parent. Keep all the dangerous items – needles, threads, make-up, pieces of jewelry, plastic bags, small sharp objects and the likes – away from them. Keep your drawers locked as well. A cat tower, toy mice with feathers, a ball with a bell and a scratching post with catnip sprinkled on it can also provide your cats the entertainment they need when they are not sleeping.

But we understand that no matter how much effort and time we exert to keep our pets safe and sound all the time, there really are instances when they cause irreparable destruction or harm themselves gravely.

If serious things happen, always bring them to the vet and get X-rays done immediately. The things they have swallowed can be dangerous and hurtful for them. So let the experts check and resolve things. Do not ever wait for them to lose their appetite, vomit, constipate or suffer from painful tummies. In many cases, objects can be small enough to pass through their throats but get stuck inside their system. And as pet parents, the health, safety and happiness of our pets are all in our hands.

Stay vigilant!

Animal Mama® Animal Clinic & Welfare Centre provides a wide range of services for animals & pets: vet care, boarding, daycare, pet food & supplies, hydrotherapy, grooming and doggy play dates.
Please visit us at:
Villa #15, Street 500
Toul Tom Pong, Phnom Penh 12311
Clinic: +855888744411
Mobile: +85510500999
Mobile: +85510500888
[email protected]

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