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The dangers of Kong toys

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Many owners give their dogs Kong toys stuffed with food, believing them to be safe and indestructible. Having recently discovered that there are significant dangers with these products, I feel that pet owners should be warned of these in order to prevent illness and even death.

 

These toys are not indestructible. There is a link here that describes the problems accurately. An Internet search for 'dangers of Kong toys' will reveal more. Some dogs are able to chew off the top ring and swallow them. If you wish to continue to use Kongs, please consider the following measures (the list is not definitive):

 

  • * Do not leave your dog unsupervised with them.
    * Purchase the correct size and type.
    * Check the Kong regularly and dispose of it if there are any signs of wear.
    * If the top ring, or any part of it is missing then consult a vet immediately.
    * Kong pieces are not radio-opaque so cannot be seen on X-ray. If the vet cannot find anything on X-ray, ask for further investigations. A barium meal may be needed.
    * Sometimes the ring piece will not cause total obstruction if the food can pass through the hole.
    * Surgery will be needed if the dog is unable to vomit the piece back or if it has moved down into the intestine but is unable to pass it rectally.
    * There are risks associated with surgery but if there is an obstruction there is no choice but to proceed with it.
    * If your dog is an ardent chewer it may be best to avoid Kongs entirely.

 

I know of a dog that recently very nearly died due to this toy and that is why I have started this thread. It's life was saved by a very experienced vet who located it by deep palpation only - it had been missed by several other vets, leading the dog to become seriously ill. The dog had been x-rayed and the piece had not shown up.

 

Many dog owners are under the impression that these toys are perfectly safe but this is not the case. I may be wrong but I wonder if the danger with these toys is

a) that they are associated by the dog with food (including the rubber having the aroma of it). Maybe they confuse it with actual food.

b) the last bit of the food inside it is always at the bottom ring and it is this is the sector that is easier to chew off. It is not difficult to imagine that a determined dog is able to work out that the food would be available if they remove that section. This would be a particular issue with dogs that are very food orientated.

 

It is not my intention to stop owners giving their dog a Kong - there are dangers all around us. However, this is a risk that many people are unaware of and we can perhaps minimize it with some attention and care. If you wish to give your dog a Kong, please use with caution.

Edited by ccit

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Sorry to hear about the dog you know of swallowing a kong. I'm sure your post will help someone and their pet. Its a shame you have had to take the time and trouble to type it out thought, must be some really lax owners out their.

 

Our Shepherds can eat a whole duck neck in less than eight seconds, bones and all but we have never had any problems with kongs in the fifteen years we have kept dogs. The large kongs are really strong. Having said that, they are not allowed any toy unsupervised and all are inspected regularly and disposed of at the first signs of damage.

 

Some dogs just like chewing these toys even if not used with or associated with food. None of our dogs have really been incessant chewers but one of them wouldn't leave a nylobone type chew alone. He was only allowed it for a short period of time as he used to make his mouth sore by constantly chewing it.

 

Hope your post will do some good.

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Thank you for your comments. Like you, many owners will not have had any problem with Kongs but it is safest not to be complacent. I do not believe that the person who wrote that article was lax. Indeed, she appears to be a very caring, good dog owner. Had she not been, the dog would have died. In my view, this is a case of a design fault in the product and of people believing that they are safe toys. They may simply not be aware of the dangers, especially in certain types of dogs. It is easy to be wise after the event. Accidents happen and if we can minimize the risk then so much the better.

Edited by ccit

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Its not a design fault of the toy/kong, its a fault of the owner. Most, if not all, dog toys have warnings on their labels to this effect. The labels say not to leave the dog unattended with the toy.

 

I haven't had a problem as my dogs aren't allowed anything unsupervised. They have chewed a kong for some time and can't break a new kong that's in good condition. As soon as it starts to look pitted or broken it goes in the bin. I do find they can wreck solid rubber balls in a short space of time.

 

I'm not saying the person wasn't caring, just lax ie not careful enough. Its common sense really.

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Do you happen to know whether the packets have this warning on them? I haven't bought one myself for a very long time so I don't know. I would doubt very much whether there is a warning that the top ring can be detached by the dog because the rubber is not strong enough to resist the chewing of it. As for leaving the dog unattended I have seen references to people being advised to use them as pacifiers for dogs with separation anxiety. This is a widely held belief. If Kongs are used, they should be removed from the dog as soon as they are emptied and this cannot be done if the dog is left alone with it.

 

I really think your response to this as being the owner's fault is somewhat misguided. There is a problem with this toy that many people (myself included) do not know of or anticipate. You simply cannot blame owners for not knowing something, especially if there is no warning on the packet.

 

This is a quote from a recent post on here:

You could also try leaving him with a Kong toy stuffed with something tasty such as a bit of his kibble ration mixed with peanut butter (make sure it's the no additives kind, read the label) and frozen solid overnight to keep his mind occupied.

The poster later said this:

Strange I've never heard of that, I've always used a kong and they're recommended by loads of people.

 

So long as you select the appropriate size and toughness and check it each day for wear and tear I'm sure you wouldn't have a problem.

She is not at fault in any way - this is a widely held belief and it is this that I am challenging. It is not about blaming owners but educating them because the information is not readily available unless you look for it.

 

You are really missing the point completely by shifting the blame onto the owner and I do not wish to argue about this. It is more important to make people aware of the problem. If you are repeatedly told that they are safe enough to leave with the dog when unattended then it is likely to be believed. There is a design or material problem with this toy and people should be aware of potential dangers when using it. I will leave it at that now - thank you for responding.

Edited by ccit

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We usually buy the large kongs but I can distinctly remember a warning label when I bought one two years ago. It was a cardboard label / packet / packaging. You can just about make out the size / weight of dog this kong packing is suggesting its suitable for.

 

http://www.petsathome.com/shop/en/pets/classic-kong-dog-chew-treat-toy

 

We got a two month old pup almost exactly two years ago so I bought a much smaller kong than usual. I stood in the pet shop reading all the labels to see which was the right one to buy for her. They were labelled with the weight, age range and suggested breed of dog that the kong should be used for.

 

She wasn't too bothered with the kong until she got too big and old for the size of kong. At that stage we had to give her a bigger kong as the smaller ones, especially puppy ones are much thinner than the large ones we are used to.

 

Our dog can pierce through a bite sleeve but has never bitten off the end off a kong, it would have to be starting to deteriorate to do this. Its almost impossible for the dogs to pierce the rubber on a fresh kong which is in good condition. You clearly have no first hand experience of kongs from the comments you are making.

 

Why is it not the owners fault if they give inappropriate toys or leave them with deteriorating toys? I can assure you, there are very few toys that last our dogs more than a few seconds. If kongs were easy to chew through we would know.

 

It sounds like people are using kongs that are old, damaged or too small for their dog. I know some people leave dogs with toys when they are unsupervised but that doesn't mean the toy manufacture is at fault or liable.

 

---------- Post added 15-11-2015 at 19:50 ----------

 

What do you mean by top ring? Have you checked your friend was using the correct sized Kong for their dog? How old was the kong? Was it showing any damage or teeth marks in the rubber?

 

 

Even when ours have had a small amount of damage its not been enough to bite chunks off. It would have to be in bad condition for that and would have been binned well before that.

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My staffy has one of those black kongs. I believe it's called an 'indestrictable' Kong. She chewed the top ring off it. Admittedly it took her quite a while to do it but she did! I was with her when she did it as I never leave her unattended with toys. And luckily she doesn't swallow anything like that, she just spat it out.

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My dogs have always used Kongs and never had any problems with them. It's the same basic principle about any bought goods really, keep an eye on them, check regularly, and over time if they look weak or broken then replace them.

 

It's a bit daft saying never leave your dogs unattended with toys though, half the point of toys - and especially Kongs - is so that you can leave your dog for longer periods on their own without them getting bored.

If I didn't do that, my younger pup would just rip the house/her bed or whatever else she could get hold of to shreds!

 

There is always going to be the odd mishap, but bringing things like this to our attention is helpful as a reminder to check the toys regularly and look after them.

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We have never knowingly left our dogs unsupervised with any toy in the fifteen years we have kept dogs. We have to make sure there aren't any left around and we know how many we are using, counting them before and after play otherwise one of them may try to sneak a toy into their bed box.

 

Toys are given as a reward when training or during play but then put away out of their reach.

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Some good advice there Chez2. It is useful for us pet owners to be reminded of safe practice regarding use of toys - thank you.

 

by Chez2: Our dog can pierce through a bite sleeve but has never bitten off the end off a kong, it would have to be starting to deteriorate to do this. Its almost impossible for the dogs to pierce the rubber on a fresh kong which is in good condition. You clearly have no first hand experience of kongs from the comments you are making.

On the subject of Kongs I was reminded yesterday of a friend who gave her dog a brand new one, purchased from Pets at Home. It was the right size and type. The dog chewed through the top ring and detached it within one hour of being given it. Fortunately the owner was present and removed the toy. It would therefore appear that wear and tear may be a significant factor in their safe use, but not always. New products cannot be relied upon to be totally safe.

 

You seem to be puzzled about the detachment of this top ring. I refer you back to the original link here which explains the problem in detail, together with images. Read it carefully and all will become clear.

 

As for experience, please could you tell me why you are trying to personalise this thread, which is about the dangers of Kongs, not about one's experience of dogs? Having had dogs for over forty years, I find that there is always something new to learn. You need to remember, Chez2 that your experience of dogs is just that. The fact that your dogs have so far been safe with Kongs gives a good counter argument but do not suppose that all dogs are like your own.

Edited by ccit

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Sad to say my dog died in May due to complications after eating part of a Kong. He has had them before and was supervised but the end sheared off (just as in your link) before I realised :sad: It caused a blockage which was removed by surgery, but sadly he went on to develop peritonitis, was very poorly and I had to make the decision to have him pts :( I will never buy anything by Kong again and every time I see those things in pet shops now I feel sickened.

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Oh, I am so terribly sorry about this. :sad: What a traumatic experience for all of you. Peritonitis is a big risk with surgery to the bowel. Unfortunately surgery is sometimes delayed because the vet cannot identify it as a foreign body due to x-rays going straight through it.

 

I feel the same as you about Kongs and that is why I posted this. They should either be taken off the market or the risks of them clearly written on the labels. There is nothing about the risks on their website. So many people believe they are perfectly safe and that is not the case.

 

The death of your dog illustrates that even when supervised, Kongs can be dangerous. Thank you for letting us know about this - it must have been so painful for you. If you get the chance, please tell as many dog owners about this as you can because it would seem that lots of people think they are perfectly safe.

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