By Brenna Fender
If your dog loves to catch flying discs for exercise or sport, you may have noticed that not all discs are created equal. Some are hard, some are soft, some are chewy, and some are floppy. But did you know that some types of discs are not safe for your dog?
There are many inexpensive discs available for canines. Pet stores sell logo discs for $.99 or even give them away for free at promotional events. But these discs are not necessarily safe for dogs. According to Kat Fahle, one of the founders of the new dog disc competition organization, UpDog Challenge, “Most discs at pet stores are too rigid and/or sharp and pose a hazard for the dog.” Rigid discs can splinter when bitten, causing injuries to a dog’s mouth, and hard discs can damage teeth. A disc with sharp edges can also cause pain and injury.
Safe dog discs should have rounded edges, are made of somewhat flexible material, and are lightweight (between 85-150 grams, according to Fahle). Discs made for human use are often too heavy to be safely caught by dogs.
Certain discs are popular in the disc dogging community due to their safety and ease of throwing. Fahle says that the Fastback Canine Chomper is popular. So are discs made by Hero Disc USA and Hyperflight. The new Latitude 64 Bite Disc is growing in popularity. Kong also makes dog-safe discs. In addition, floppy discs are generally safe for dogs to use for exercise and fun.
If you plan to compete in disc dog events someday with your dog, you should consult the rules of the event’s sanctioning organization before choosing a disc. The Latitude 64 Bite Disc, Kong discs, and floppy discs are not allowed for competitive purposes by all organizations. Floppy discs fly differently and may create challenges for dogs that are expected to catch plastic discs in competition. “If someone knows they want to compete in the sport of canine disc, they should transition their dog to a plastic dog-safe disc sooner rather than later as only one organization allows floppy discs at this time,” says Fahle. UpDog allows the widest variety of dog-safe discs of any organization, including floppy discs.
After purchasing a dog-safe disc, owners should inspect the disc regularly for wear-and-tear. Tooth marks can create sharp points and rough edges can damage canine mouths. Rough spots can be filed down or, in some cases, even heated up and reshaped (see manufacturers’ websites for specifics). Discs will not last forever and should be disposed of when they are not salvageable.
Careful disc selection and maintenance will improve your disc dogging safety and fun!
Photos by Kat Fahle, www.GoodDogSports.com.