How to pick the best pet toys for the hol­i­days

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - To learn more, visit Con­sumerRe­

Your hol­i­day shop­ping list would not be com­plete with­out a present for your ca­nine or fe­line fam­ily mem­ber. You can find aisles full of cute toys for dogs and cats at pet stores, kids’ toy stores, dis­count stores like Tar­get and Wal­Mart and on shop­ping web­sites.

Con­sumer Re­ports of­fers some shop­ping tips.

Toys for Your Dog

Toys are vi­tal to a dog’s health. They help to ward off bore­dom, pre­vent poor be­hav­ior prob­lems and strengthen jaws. They can also keep a dog’s teeth clean.

• Play-with-me toys. Choose toys that let you in­ter­act with your dog, per­haps al­low­ing you to play some form of Fris­bee or a gen­tle ver­sion of tug-ofwar (if your dog is very ag­gres­sive, skip tug-of-war). Such games can give your dog a good car­dio work­out. Re­mem­ber that size mat­ters. Stick with a small Fris­bee (or some­thing sim­i­lar) for lit­tle dogs and pups and a tougher Fris­bee (or some­thing big­ger) for big­ger dogs.

• Keep-me-busy toys. Look for tough toys like Kongs that you can fill with treats. They might be the only ones your dog plays with by him­self, try­ing to ex­tract the good­ies. Softer ver­sions are good for young pups and older dogs.

• Calm-me-down toys. Con­sumer Re­ports sug­gests con­sid­er­ing giv­ing your dog a stuffed an­i­mal. Some dogs seem to find it calm­ing to chew on toys like a stuffed an­i­mal or rope knot, says Bon­nie Beaver, a pro­fes­sor at Texas A&M Univer­sity Col­lege of Vet­eri­nary Medicine and Bio­med­i­cal Sciences and for­mer pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion. But for­get about buy­ing your dog a stuffed an­i­mal if your pooch is the search-and-de­stroy type that tears out (and eats) stuff­ing. Such toys can be danger­ous. Be sure to toss out any snug­gly an­i­mal toys when the in­sides start to come out.

Toys for Your Cat

•Cats will play with just about any­thing, so you don’t need many toys to make them happy. Even a pa­per bag (with the han­dles cut off for safety) or a small card­board box can pro­vide hours of fun. Ro­tate your cat toys ev­ery few days just to keep things new.

• Play-with-me toys. Do get toys you’ll want to play with, too. Some cats will play fetch with small balls. Cat dancers -- usu­ally sticks or mitts with things that dan­gle -- are tan­ta­liz­ing and pro­vide great jump­ing ex­er­cise. Toys that dan­gle from door­knobs are also fine as long as any elas­tic is well en­closed and there is no risk that the cat will eat the string. (Don’t leave toys with strings, feath­ers, rib­bons or other ob­jects that can be swal­lowed ly­ing around; that can cause chok­ing or in­testi­nal block­ages.)

• Keep-me-busy toys. Con­sumer Re­ports rec­om­mends try­ing cat­nip toys. They en­cour­age play when you’re not around, which can keep cats away from stuff you don’t want de­stroyed.

• Calm-me-down toys. Do see if your cat likes car­ry­ing around a stuffed toy he can cud­dle with and bite. Or your cat might pre­fer fab­ric toys that make a nice crunch, like a chew ring or fish.

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