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It’s a mystery as to why, but dogs love to bite into plastic water bottles and hear them crunch and crackle. “Many people give them to their dog to play with, and some store-bought toys even have them instead of stuffing,” says AKC GoodDog! Helpline trainer Hilarie Erb. “Diving into a wading pool filled with them is an exciting, confidence-building activity for puppies.” But can dogs chew on water bottles safely?
No. As dog owners, we love to give our pups something they like, and seeing their joy when they play with a plastic water bottle makes it an irresistible treat. Not to mention, it’s a free toy. Although dogs love them, that doesn’t mean they’re safe. But there are dog toys that make similar sounds that are much safer.
Why Chewing Water Bottles Can Be Dangerous
Erb cautions, “Dogs and puppies should never be left unsupervised with one. Eventually, after the initial thrill of ‘killing’ the bottle, a dog will probably settle in for a good chew. At this point, a cap or piece of the bottle itself might be ingested, causing a life-threatening emergency. Removing the cap might help a little, but still doesn’t make it safe because even little dogs’ jaws are more than strong enough to tear off some of the bottle itself.”
Young puppies, for example, can break a plastic bottle pretty easily. Once broken, those pieces can be ingested, causing a blockage that requires emergency vet care—frequently surgery—and can be fatal. When the plastic water bottle breaks, it also creates sharp edges that can cut your dog’s mouth, resulting in another vet visit.
If you really want to give your dog plastic water bottles, be sure to follow Erb’s advice. “If you can be certain that your dog will never be left alone with one, a water bottle is a very entertaining toy,” she says. “Let it be one of the things your dog gets only when he’s with you— it will make your time with him even more special.”
So, bottom line—don’t leave your dog unattended with a plastic water bottle. Also, buying a dog toy that makes similar sounds to a plastic bottle when chewed can help reduce the risk of cuts associated with broken pieces.
Toy Alternatives to Water Bottles
Some toys make an identical, satisfying crackle, without the danger of your dog ingesting plastic. Many soft dog toys have some crinkly paper inside, and if your dog breaks them, they’ll be less hazardous. There are also harder rubber balls containing plastic that crinkles, but because of their roundness, they’re harder for dogs to chew through. Many of these are designed to be frozen, but if left thawed, they produce that same crackly noise.
Even though these toys may be safer, a determined chewer can get through just about anything. As a result, it’s best not to leave your dog unattended with any toy that they might be able to tear into pieces. After all, it’s not just the plastic that can cause a blockage, but any foreign object, including the outer fur, fabric, or rubber of the toy. Following these tips will help keep your dog safe and out of the vet’s office, while still getting to enjoy the things they love.