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Dollarstore Dog Toys: Deal or No Deal?

Dog toys are great for not only keeping us doggies entertained and for our canine enrichment. But dog toys take a chewing, shredding and tearing. It's a fact that dog toys have a short life. And an even shorter life when your dog is a power chewer.

Dog owners looking for ways to save money increasingly are turning to discount stores like dollarstores to restock their dog's toy box. But are dollarstore dog toys a deal?

Increase in demand for pet products with more people bringing pets into their homes during Covid-19 has driven the expansion of pet products offered in discount dollarstores. Like many discount dollarstore products there are some good deals and some not so great deals.

To help out Toller Tails readers and dog owners, we spend one year testing various dollarstore toy products. Here's what we found.

Dollarstore Dog Toy - Better Buys

Rope toys. Overall, the rope toys were a better buy. We found that they were of the same quality as rope dog toys in the big box pet stores. They also cost half the price and lasted just as long as big box pet store brand rope toys. Depending on level of play, we found they lasted on average 3 weeks to one month.

  • Toller Tip: Test the rope toys in store by pulling and tugging the rope toys like your dog would. Also carefully examine the rope toy for any loose threads or if the rope is coming loose. If you see any loosening, then give it a pass.

"Chew proof" fabric covered dog toys. Each toy manufacturer has a different name for their bite proof or chew proof fabric covered toys. Generally these dog toys hold up under supervised play for fetch and the occasional game of dog tug. However, these toys aren't chew toys. While they might suggest they are bite or chew proof they are not. Dog owners should never leave their dogs alone with any dog toy. It only takes a few minutes for your dog to chew up a toy and end up at the emergency animal hospital.

Dog Toy Balls. Dog toy balls purchased at the dollarstore were average but still a better buy when choosing from the discount dollarstore pet products section. Although the pet product selection at dollarstores changes weekly, the ball selection leans more towards tennis balls and plastic balls. If you're just using balls for fetch and not letting your dog chew on discount dog toy balls, then these are a better buy.

  • Toller Tip: Search for brand name dog toys. Discount or dollarstores often buy outdated stock or overstock brand name dog toys. They aren't usually large batches of brand name dog toys. Most often they are left over stock from holidays such as Christmas themed dog toys. But if you search through the racks you sometimes can find a top dog toy brand for half the price. Your dog won't care if it's Christmas in July.

Dollarstore Dog Toy - Bad Buys

Frisbees. We found the dog frisbees were a bad buy. They didn't last for more than two uses. We also looked at frisbees in the children's section. Especially, as plastic frisbees offered in the children's section were the same quality and sometimes the same manufacturer but different name. We recommend passing on the discount frisbees.

Hedy (left) playing tug with Henry (right) during product testing
Hedy (left) playing tug with Henry (right) during product testing

Soft Fabric or Plush Dog Toys. On average these dog toys cost $4.00 Canadian at the local dollarstore. While pretty cheap, they are not a good buy.

Overall, soft dog toys made of fabric or plush dog toys lasted on average 2 play sessions. The poor zebra that we tested lasted one play session before ripping (see photo above).

We found the fabric soft and plushy dog toys were usually poorly constructed and like with other discounted stock these toys are "irregular". Meaning they did not meet the dog toy company's specifications. These are most often the dog toys that have no name or you know by inspecting them they are "irregulars".

Dogs don't care if the dog toy has an eye or ear that isn't up to standard. But the "irregular" dog toys were often not as well stitched. If your dog likes to disembowel and eat their dog toys, then definitely give these toys a pass.

Final Toller Tips

Discount dollarstores can be a good source for dog toys. But you need to be careful when purchasing.

  • For Rope dog toys check for loose threads and any loosening in the ropes. If the rope is loose, then give it a pass.

  • No soft fabric dog toy is bite proof or chew proof. Take a close look at the seams on these toys and how the special "bite proof" of chew tough fabric is layered. If the layers are frayed and the seams loose, then give it a pass.

  • Dog toy balls, check to see if they have too much fuzz. Some of the dog toy tennis ball style with too much fuzz can become a hazard if your dog eats all the fuzz. Also look at the seams for any cracking on the plastic balls.

  • Never leave your dog unsupervised with any dog toy. It's important to regularly inspect your dog's toys for damage to minimize the potential for choking hazards or ingesting parts that will send your dog to the emergency animal hospital.


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