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For years, the only toy my dog Richie played with was a squeaky polka-plushie that belonged to my son when he was an infant. My son is now five. Richie is hardly neglected, though. He’s got a fancy new dog bed, gourmet dog food, and I take him for regular walks in the park. But his toy stash certainly needed an upgrade.
Enter Chewy.com, an e-pet emporium that offers pretty much everything for every pet—from food to treats to supplies for dogs, cats, reptiles and more. As a city dweller, I’m a big fan — no more schlepping Richie’s necessities from the pet store back home on the bus. Instead, everything Richie needs is shipped right to our door.
When I finally decided that Richie’s toys were due for a refresh, I turned to Nikki Naser, Chewy’s Resident Pet Expert, for some suggestions. A medium-sized Havanese poodle mix, Richie recently turned 10. Now that he has officially reached “senior dog” status, I wondered if there were any particular considerations I should take into account.
Even if they’ve slowed down, “senior dogs still need exercise and playtime to stay healthy, fit and mentally sharp,” Naser tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Keeping them active and at their ideal weight can reduce pressure on their joints and benefit their long-term mobility. Not to mention that playing with your senior pup and giving him your undivided attention will nurture your bond and help him thrive in his golden years.” Naser recommends choosing toys that can both accommodate older dogs’ reduced activity level and not overwhelm their aging teeth and joints. She also suggests mixing in options that provide mental stimulation.
Based on Naser’s recommendations, the folks at Chewy sent over an assortment of toys for Richie to try out. While he’s still partial to the squeaky polka-dot plushie, he’s got a whole bunch of new favorites:.
My kids are big soccer fans. So when the box of dog toys arrived, this squeaky soccer ball was the first toy they went for. Turns out Richie likes it, too. Combining a unique spiky texture that’s good for his gums and a squeaky sound Richie loves, this versatile—and easy-to-clean—toy is great indoors or out. Made from BPA-free rubber, it can stand up to heavy chewing and is also perfect for a game of fetch. As an added bonus, the popular soccer theme has the kids playing with the dog now more than ever. Score!
Richie may qualify for discounted tickets at the doggie movie theater, but he’s still young at heart. In fact, he loves to play fetch and often follows me around the house angling for a game. Sometimes I get tired of balls bouncing around our apartment, so I love that this tire-shaped toy is designed specifically for indoor play. With a durable multilayer construction and a textured chenille fabric cover, the soft toy rolls along the floor just begging to be pounced upon. While the shape makes the Chuckit! a bit awkward for Richie to carry in his mouth, he nevertheless loves chasing the toy around —and I like not having to worry about broken lamps.
Made from all-natural rubber, the Kong has a hollow middle that can be stuffed with kibble or peanut butter for hours of canine fun. We’d had a Kong Classic for years, but Richie got tired of playing with it and it ended up buried at the bottom of a bin. Turns out the rubber may have been too rough for his aging mouth and gums. Designed specifically for older dogs with softer rubber than the original, the Kong Senior Dog Toy is gentle and comfortable to chew, yet still satisfying. Richie is all over it—and I’m all over the fact that I can throw the it in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
For exercising your dog’s brain, Naser recommends this toy. Place treats in the three beakers, then cover with the lids with holes. The treats are released once your canine gamer figures out how to flip the beakers and balance them upside down. This toy is a bit cumbersome to store and Richie tired of it quickly, but I’m going to keep bringing it out for him to play with. I consider it the doggie version of the Sunday crossword—he just needs to stick with it and eventually he will figure it out.
This ball doesn’t just bounce; it squeaks. Even better, it features a knobby, bumpy rubber sleeve that adds a texture Richie can’t resist and that’s gentle on his teeth and gums. The 2.5” diameter is the right size for him, and the non-abrasive felt around the ball is easier on his mouth than a traditional tennis ball. The beach is Richie’s happy place—even more so when we bring a ball along. We took this toy with us for a beach walk, and Richie chased after it, puppy style, for hours.
If there was ever a toy designed to please both Richie and me, this is the one. For him, it has pretty much everything: a springy, stretchy construction; stimulating squeakers inside the head and body; and internal crinkle paper for an extra dose of fun. It’s perfect for playing, chasing, carrying, tug-of-war, and snuggling. What more could a pup ask for? Not much. Now what’s in it for me? No stuffing to escape and scatter around the house! (Not to mention the toy is virtually indestructible to begin with.) Plus, as far as dog toys go, the sweet little sloth is pretty darn adorable.
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