Here's a quick run-down of some of the things you should know before you make that impulse buy.
If you think some toys for pets look like toys for babies there's a good reason: at least one company has hired designers who had previously worked for companies that designed toys for babies. For some people their pets are child substitutes or one more child in the family so the appeal is understandable.
The industry has no watch-dog group (any pun intended) unlike the groups that test toys for children. The industry is expected to police itself. What does this mean? It means that you will have to shop carefully to insure the toys you're buying are safe for your pet. Is it sturdy? Are there parts that can easily be removed and swallowed? Eyes sewn onto a toy are one such example.
Does your dog love to chew? Is he really tough on toys? Be sure that the toy is well-made and you may even see on the packaging that it's made for chewers who are hard on their toys.
Be careful when choosing what size toy. Many pets will manage to swallow a toy that will need to be removed surgically.
If you're buying a wand toy for your cat, stay away from those with mylar. That shiny silver might look attractive to you and your cat but did you know that when playing with a wand toy with mylar a cat can get the equivalent of a paper cut on his mouth? If the interactive toy has string, for example a feather toy, put it away between play sessions. Kitty might get tangled in the string or might find a way to chew through and swallow it, necessitating surgery to remove it. And it's so much more fun when you make those interactive sessions special by announcing that it's time to play and then the game ends with the toy being put away.
Not all cats react to catnip. They have to have the catnip genes which isn't apparent in very young kittens and usually interest fades when cats are elderly. If your cat loves catnip you should know a few things about the toys. Do not buy the cheapest. If you take those cheap toys apart they either don't have catnip in them or have a teeny amount. Look for a toy that's refillable so you can keep adding fresh catnip. As for the catnip bolster toys and little squares of fabric filled with catnip, as with any catnip, don't leave it out all the time and be sure to put it away before the cat gets too excited. They also don't need to play with it every day; it should remain special. The best way to store these toys between play sessions is in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer so it will remain fresh longer.
Laser toys aren't always safe. If you're going to play with one with your cat or dog, start the game with the light coming from inside your shoe and end it with the light returning to the inside of your shoe. Why? Because dogs especially can develop behavior problems looking for that red dot.
One final note: always supervise your pet with a new toy to be sure of safety.
I hope you and your pets have a lifetime of fun together!
Now for the winner of the contest posted earlier this week.
The winner of the dog poetry book, Throw the Damn Ball is:
Elaine, please e-mail your address to me via my website: www.darlenearden.com There's a link to contact me. Congratulations!!