Are Nylabones safe for dogs?

Are Nylabones safe for dogs
(Image credit: Nylabone)

Are Nylabones safe for dogs? It's a question many pet parents find themselves asking and it's little wonder. After all, there has been a lot of debate over Nylabones in recent years and this may be leaving you feeling torn over whether or not this is the right kind of toy to be giving your canine companion.

When it comes to the best durable dog toys, Nylabones continue to be a popular choice for dog owners who have an aggressive chewer on their hands. Tough and durable, Nylabones tend to last far longer than other toys, offering great value for money. So, given their popularity, what exactly is it about Nylabones that stir up so much controversy? 

Well, the problem is largely due to a misunderstanding about what a Nylabone actually is. Because the word 'bone' features in its name, many pet parents mistakingly believe that Nylabones can be eaten. However, unlike the best dog treats, this isn't the case, and ingesting these toys can cause severe illness or even death.

It's important to understand that while some Nylabones do come with flavoring to encourage your dog to chew on them as opposed to your furniture, they're not safe for consumption - even if their misleading name does make it sound like they are. 

But given that they're made of plastic and prone to splintering after prolonged use, are Nylabones safe for dogs to play with or should you give them a miss altogether? Let’s take a closer look at this popular dog toy and find out. 

What is a Nylabone?

You'd be forgiven for thinking that a Nylabone is an edible bone. After all, the word 'bone' is baked right on into the name, plus, they come coated in flavoring, what could be more suitable for consumption than that?

Nylabone is a very unfortunate choice of name because it's actually a toy and not a food product. Created in the 1950s, Nylabones are made from a form of plastic called Nylon and then coated in delicious flavors, such as peanut butter, chicken or bacon to give them their delicious taste.

The whole purpose of creating the Nylabone was to create a toy for aggressive chewers that would help teach them appropriate chewing behavior. By coating the toy in flavors that dogs naturally find appealing, the idea is that your dog will go for their new toy rather than your clothing or furniture.  

Separation anxiety in dogs is also quite a common issue, so some pet parents find that using Nylabones is a great way of soothing their hound when they’re home alone. As a non-edible chew, Nylabones come in a range of shapes, sizes, and flavors, and include rings that can be given to teething puppies.

Are Nylabones dangerous?

Being made of plastic, Nylabones pose a serious risk to your dog if they’re consumed, but when it comes to play, they’re no more dangerous than any other chew toy.

If you’re wanting to get your dog a Nylabone (and plenty of pet parents do!), then the most important thing is to use your common sense. Just like with any of the best dog toys, we recommend you inspect your dog's Nylabone regular, looking for any signs of cracks and splinters. When it starts to look really worn, is close to breaking, or has started to break, replace it with a new one.

A great way to avoid mistaking a Nylabone for an edible item is to carefully check what the product is made from before you buy it. Online retailers, such as Amazon, clearly list 'nylon' or 'plastic' in the material section of the product description, so taking a look at this will help prevent confusion. 

You'll notice there are a lot of Nylabones on the market, so it's worth thinking through what you're primary purpose is for purchasing this toy. For example, some are great for teething puppies while others will do a brilliant job of keeping your canine companion's pearly whites in tip-top condition. Make sure you select the right Nylabone for your dog’s size, age, and needs.

Are Nylabones safe for dogs? Small dog sitting on floor with blue Nylabone between paws

(Image credit: Facebook/Nylabone)

Here’s what the team at Nylabone have to say about picking out one of their products:

“It is important to select the appropriate chew toy type, size, and formulation based on your dog's age, breed, chewing style, and weight. The pressure exerted by a strong chewer's jaw is considerable, and when directed straight down can put tremendous (as much as 450 psi) stress on the dog's teeth. It is therefore recommended that nonedible chew toys be large enough to encourage chewing from the side rather than the top and bottom. If you have more than one dog in your household, select chew toys that are appropriate for your largest, strongest chewer.”

Any dog that’s been given a Nylabone should be supervised when using it. While the Nylabone has been constructed to make sure large chunks can’t be broken off, nothing is ever 100% safe and if your dog does snap off and swallow a large piece, they’ll need to be taken to the vet immediately.

Nylabone safety tips

1) Conduct regular checks: It’s a good idea to have a look at your dog’s Nylabone after each use. While that may sound like we’re being pedantic, regularly inspecting the chew toy will let you quickly catch if any pieces have been broken off. You’ll also be able to spot when the Nylabone is starting to wear down, and needs replacing.

2) Supervision: Never leave your dog alone when they’re playing with their Nylabone. It can be frustrating when you’ve finally got some peace to have to keep watching them, but if a piece breaks off you’ll be able to move it out of their way so that it doesn’t present a choking hazard.

3) Proper storage: Being made of plastic, the Nylabone will be affected by the heat if it’s left out in the sun. When plastic melts, it releases toxic chemicals, so always store this toy away when not in use, preferably out of reach of your dog.

A final word on Nylabones

So there you have it, everything you need to know about Nylabones! Remember, non-edible Nylabones are no more dangerous than other chew toys when used under the proper supervision, but they are most definitely not to be ingested. 

If you’re feeling concerned about getting your dog a Nylabone, but still need a toy that will hold up to an aggressive chewer, why not check out our guide on how to use Kong toys?

We’re huge fans of these hollow rubber toys, and they can be smeared with peanut butter, yogurt, canned pumpkin, or dog food, for a delicious mentally and physically stimulating treat.

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.