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    How to Wash, Clean & Repair Dog Toys

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    Once you own a dog, you need to take care of your pet, and good care is more than just food and water. For a dog to be happy, it needs exercise and play. Choosing and maintaining the right dog toys for your puppy or adult dog can make a huge difference in the health and happiness of your pet.

    You might not think that you need to maintain a dog toy at first. Wouldn’t you just give the toy to the dog and let the dog play with it? This is a misconception. Dog toys should be cleaned to keep them somewhat sanitary, as well as checked out periodically for breakage.

    The importance of maintaining your dog’s toys

    A pet parent knows the importance of maintaining the well-being of a dog. For pet owners wanting to take good care of their canine pets, it is important to know everything there is to know about dog toys and pet products.

    Dog toys can come in soft and hard versions, as well as different sizes. Choose dog toys that are easy to pick up and clean. If you are thinking about dog toys, you might also choose a dog bed for your pup that they can play with. Try to look for something like dog chew toys and products like KONG or Nylabone (which comes in peanut butter flavor), as well as other pet products.

    For an adult dog, you can choose a plush toy or an interactive dog toy. For puppies or older pets, you can purchase a good quality rope toy.

    An interactive toy is a type of toy or puzzle toy that most dogs love to play with. Interactive dog toys are often ideal because they may pack a treat inside. Some play a noise created by the dog’s teeth. Generally, they are popular among many dog breeds, such as border collies, border terriers, pit bulls, and Rottweilers. There are many options for interactive dog toys, including tug toys, chew toys, and squeakers.

    A chew toy is an appropriate plaything for puppies. Puppies enjoy chewing on chew toys a lot, and some puppies will take to destroying other objects if a chew toy isn’t available, even using a finger. Try to get the best dog toys for your puppy to avoid your hand becoming the chew toy!

    A treat toy can be a very useful toy for a dog. This type of toy is favored by many dogs because it enables the dog to get the variety of treats it provides. 

    Interacting with your dog, such as through play, a dog walk, or the dog park, is very important for the pet. A dog needs to be social and free of untrustworthy or stressful situations. Dog toys can help, but always supervise the dog when you first give it a new toy. Without the direct supervision of owners, animals can go overboard on a new toy, so check in on them. Dog toys should be nice and durable and should not crack, easily break, or show damage inside or outside. Dog toys should be safe for pets.

    Dog toys that aren’t maintained can build up harmful bacteria. They can also break and become a danger to your pets. A dog toy that is never cleaned can harbor germs that can get tracked around your home and potentially infect your family members. Therefore, it is very important to maintain and clean your dog toys.

    Deciding when to clean or throw away a dog toy

    Dog toys that get dirty but are otherwise in good shape can usually be cleaned. Yet, eventually, pet toys will reach their end of life, and it will be more prudent to throw them out instead of cleaning them or repairing them.

    Why is this important? Because an old dog toy that is dirty and torn can potentially be a hazard to your pet and even your family members, especially children.

    For example, a stuffed toy could be dislodged from your dog’s teeth and rip. Or a dog could bite a broken squeaker that punctures the gum or causes choking. This is especially dangerous for an active dog or a canine who chews excessively because of separation anxiety. Small pieces of broken dog toys could also potentially be picked up by small children and eaten.

    If your pet toy is a stuffed animal that can easily lose an arm or leg while your dog is playing with it, you should remove it quickly if the toy breaks while in your pet’s mouth. Either repair or get rid of torn stuffed toys. Checking dog toys periodically for rips and tears is the most important thing that dog owners should do for toys in addition to regular cleaning.

    Ideally, you will clean your dog’s toys at least once per week. When you collect your dog’s toys for cleaning, inspect them. Are there any rips, holes, tears, or jagged edges? Is the specific problem with the toy simply cosmetic, or could it potentially cause a problem for your dog? Remember, a toy that breaks apart can turn into large pieces of plastic that could potentially choke your dog if accidentally swallowed.

    Whether a broken pet toy is potentially dangerous depends on many factors, including the type of dog toy, the size of your dog, and your dog’s aggressiveness in chewing toys. For example, a tennis ball is a common, cheap toy given to dogs for playing fetch. Sometimes a tennis ball can get a small hole or puncture in it. If you have a dog that isn’t a chewer, then they might be fine using this slightly damaged tennis ball. However, if you have a large dog that tears up tennis balls easily, you might need to just throw out the tennis ball once it becomes punctured.

    For a toy such as a plastic chew toy or fake bone that is cracked or torn significantly because of wear and tear or old age, it is probably best to just throw the dog toy out and purchase a new one. You do not want to risk the possibility that the dog rips the toy into pieces that can be swallowed. Plastic may seem like it lasts forever, but it can become brittle as it ages. Plastic is usually pretty easy to clean, however, so there is no need to toss out a dirty plastic toy when it can be made “like new” with a little detergent.

    Plush toys and stuffed animals are often favorites of dogs, but they are also easily torn and ripped. These can possibly be repaired, but what about dirt and grime? These soft toys can often be easily cleaned, but at a certain point, they will simply become too ratty and tattered. At that point, it is probably best to get a new toy. If the old toy was your dog’s favorite, consider easing in the new toy during a transition period before throwing out the old one.

    How to clean a dog toy

    The following paragraphs will save you from buying a new dog toy when you can perform deep cleaning on the toy instead.

    For a soft plush object, you could wash the dog toy in laundry detergent. Certain plastic toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher. You can sterilize toys by setting the dishwasher or washing machine to “hot,” but please check the toy instructions first to be sure it is safe for the toy. Wash dog toys with mild soap and water once or twice a week.

    When it comes to cleaning dog toys, should you wash dog toys in laundry detergent in the washing machine or use something like vinegar and disinfecting bleach? While laundry detergent, dish soap, and vinegar are probably safe to use, never use bleach on your dog’s toys.

    Wash cloth dog toys, such as stuffed animals, with laundry detergent in the washing machine. But if you are willing and able to spend some time, you should be prepared to manually clean certain dog toys, such as squeakers.

    Before washing a dog toy in a washing machine, first clean excess dirt and grime off your pup’s toys. Wash the toys by placing them in soapy water at a deep depth in a container. You can also sponge clean the wet spots.

    To clean a plush toy, place it in a basket with a few liters of water and some laundry detergent or vinegar. You can’t dry the plush toy in the container but you may be able to put it in the dryer on low heat (check the instructions). 

    To clean dog sweaters, specialized dog towels, and soft toys, you can put them in the wash. When it comes to doggie tennis balls, you can put each one in a sock and wash with water and cleaning detergent in the washer. To clean dog toys such as stuffed animals, wash them in cleaning detergent and squeeze out the water before letting them air-dry or putting them in the dryer.

    Chew toys can get hair stuck to them because of their sticky texture. These plastic toys can be washed by rinsing them with dish soap. Periodically disinfect the dog toy, because bacteria that can cause sickness can grow on the toy. Dogs can get sick from chewing infected toys. To keep their toys clean, you need to spot clean frequently with soap, baking soda, or rubbing alcohol before giving them to your dog.

    Repair tips for dog toys

    If you cannot pay for new dog toys on a regular basis, purchase some durable hard toys for your pet. Then, clean your dog toys regularly, and check your squeakers because chewing can lead to tearing. Your dog can stay occupied for hours because of the hard feel of the squeaky toy and the noise it makes when they move it around. 

    Sometimes the impact of your dog toy breaking can cause separation anxiety in your furry friend. But a broken squeaker could potentially choke the dog, so don’t let your dog continue to use a torn-up plastic toy. Your furry friend might vomit as a result of swallowing the squeaker. Thus, keep pet toys maintained, repair the ones you can, and throw out the ones you cannot repair.

    Interactive dog toys are usually toys that your dog has to play with to get a treat or reward. It could be a tug toy, a sliding disk, or a ball that releases some scrumptious treat for your dog. 

    It is common for a dog to get bored and use its favorite toy to escape from the stress of a demanding family. At the dog park, if your dog is not allowed off the leash, you might use the chew toy to train it. You can teach your pup to sit while you are holding a treat or let the dog gnaw on the toy. The toy must be strong enough that your pet cannot choke on it during chewing and gnawing.

    To keep your dog from being so aggressive with chewing and gnawing a teddy bear or other chew toy, you can squirt the toy and your pet with a water gun. You can try hiding the stuffed toy so your dog does not see it until the dog calms down.

    Dogs are “dangerous” for their stuffed animals, but these toys can be easily repaired with a sewing needle and some thread. You need to be aware it is not possible to make an indestructible dog toy. Some toy models can help to calm the dog down, but with other models, the playtime ends quickly if the dog gets riled up and rips the toy apart.

    Be careful if you have an aggressive chewer. Chewing and destroying toys is preferable to chewing and destroying furniture, shoes, or other household objects, which should never be tolerated in pets and should be discouraged. But a squeaker or tug toy can be chewed and punctured by your pet. Do not leave a tug toy in the yard for your dog, or it might end up weakened by the elements. This will lead to it breaking more easily. Another animal (like a squirrel) may become destructive when a toy is left out.

    Dog toys like squeakers may need to be simply thrown out once they are chewed up or ripped. But other toys can be salvaged. A braided rope toy that has unraveled can be easily repaired. Simply braid the large ends back together and use a sewing needle and thread to firmly secure them if necessary. You can also cut off frayed rope ends and loose pieces.

    Having a collection of clean, well-maintained dog toys is an important part of keeping your dog healthy and happy. To keep these toys safe, make sure they are cleaned regularly to remove dirt and bacteria. Inspect each toy for damage, especially large tears, and either repair or throw away potentially dangerous toys. 

    Tractor Supply has a wide variety of dog toys for your favorite furry friends including, chew toys, treat toys, interactive and more. TSC is your one-stop shop for all your pets needs. Subscribe to our autoship program and receive regular deliveries of food, treats, flea & tick preventatives, supplements and more, all while saving you time and money.