Dog toys are notorious for having unsavory chemical additives and dangerous materials added to them. In recent years, imports from China have unveiled everything from lead to unscrupulous death causing antibiotics and toxins. When a person buys a dog toy, it is because they love their dog, they look forward go interacting and playing together, and there is enjoyment from keeping the human animal bond strong and vibrant. No one wants to give their pet a toy that might harm them. Pet toy companies are in business to make money and the reality is that this is often with complete disregard to the health of the pet. Not so, with West Paw Designs. This is a company to support, one that not only cares about the health and well-being of pets, but also runs on an eco-conscious mentality; sourcing materials from recycled plastic bottles, old chew toys, organically grown plants and more. All of their beds and toys are made in the USA, with special attention to durability, strength and resilience.
West Paw sent several of their new floatable Zogoflex Air toys for honest review last year, and since then we have also purchased a few. These toys were originally tested over eight weeks with four playful and exuberant dachshunds; and most of them have held up to the tenacious and rough nature of our little dogs over the rest of the year. In addition to being made in the USA, West Paw’s non-stuffed toys are recyclable, BPA and phthalate-free, non-toxic, guaranteed against dog damage, and dishwasher safe. The first toy we tested was the Dash Dog Frisbee. This organically shaped toy has an open middle and a ridge around the perimeter on both sides, making it easy for a dog to carry in her mouth. Rated for a level 3 out of 5 chewer, this toy has held up extremely well with the exception of the middle, where the material was thinner which Honey chewed completely out on the first day. Even though it’s meant for a bigger dog, this toy has been a favorite among the mini dachshunds and Honey, who weighs about 8 pounds has no trouble carrying it to request a game of fetch at all. She likes to chase it as it rolls and bounces across the floor. It’s also extremely easy to clean with soap and water. We still have it a year later and she hasn't been able to chew off any more pieces. Dachshunds are extreme chewers, so the next toy they tested turned out to be much more durable for them. With a durability rating of 4 out of 5, the new Boz Dog Ball has been the biggest hit with the resident fetch obsessed Honey dog. Because the exterior texture is lumpy and somewhat spongy, she is easily able to pick up and carry it even though it's larger than what would normally fit in her mouth. This 2.5” small ball is great because it fits in a standard ball thrower and it works size-wise for an entire range of dogs, and I like it because it's bigger and less of a choke hazard. About the size of a tennis ball but heavier, this engineered toy gives the dog the satisfaction of the squish, yet it’s durable enough that it still looks brand new. It bounces and floats, and comes with the same guarantee and reassurances that all of West Paw’s other toys do. Impressed by the durability of the Toppl Treat Toy, I find it surprising that it only received a 3 out of 5 rating for durability. This toy, like the ball has been played with quite a lot and still looks brand new. Honey has quickly decided that it can be used for fetch and often brings half of this toy for a game together. The way it works is that the owner purchases different pieces of this toy which pop together to create a treat chamber inside, making it a challenging puzzle toy of various skill levels. A different use for it: put other, smaller toys inside of this one. Smart dogs love the challenge of removing the toy inside, and the fighting over treats with multiple dogs is avoided. We really can't do treat dispensing toys - tenacious dogs are not very nice to one another when they are all trying to retrieve treats from the same toy. It’s easy to clean and dishwasher safe. Another durable dachshund favorite: the Tux and the Hurley Dog Bone. Over two years old and played with daily, this toy still looks new, with no dings or missing chunks. It bounces across the floor when thrown for fetch and is easily washable. Over the summer, I put the toys in the freezer for a cold, way to play on hot days.
If a dog has a preference for a toy that’s a bit softer, this adorable fuzzy Tango Tug is cute and fun but quickly destroyed. A little more traditional, Teddy was also quickly gutted but they continue to play with the emptied pelt, and Ricky loved the small size. The dachshunds completely destroyed them both in less than an hour, but they had fun doing it. More durable and surprisingly still mostly intact is the Wacky Worm. It’s made with eco-friendly fabric left over from their Big Sky Blanket manufacturing process, and is a favorite of our Lucy. This toy was fetched and tugged for several weeks before it finally wore a hole big enough they could remove the recycled stuffing. The toys are generously filled with material called Intelliloft that is made from recycled plastic bottles. West Paw mentions that “using IntelliLoft recycled material uses up to 8x less energy than it takes to manufacture the same material new and keeps plastic bottles out of landfills.” This was a nice compromise between a very durable toy and one that was still soft and cuddly.