Which toy is the best one for your pet?

LOS ANGELES Have a pet on your holiday list? There are so many toys to choose from. Consumer Reports' Mandy Walker, a proud pet owner herself, says you want to pick toys carefully, so you know they're safe. Toys with bells, strings and feathers can be a choking hazard.

"It's fine to buy them and play with your pet when you're there. But when you're done, you want to put them away," said Walker.

Stay away from toys that squeak, as well as kids' toys, which can be torn apart and swallowed if your pet is aggressive.

"It's good to think about what you want the toy for," said Walker. "Some toys are great to play with your pet. Other toys will calm them down. And other toys will keep them busy when you're not around."

For playing with dogs, it's hard to beat a ball or Frisbee; they're great for catch or tug-of-war. Cat dancers, which are usually sticks or gloves with items that dangle, provide good jumping exercise. A stuffed animal, whether you have a dog or cat, is a calming toy.

"You want to stay away from stuffed animals if your pet is the very aggressive type, the search-and-destroy type that will tear it apart and eat the stuffing," said Walker.

Looking to keep your dog busy? Try a tough toy like the Kong, which you fill with treats. Then your pooch tries to get at them.

Walker says catnip can keep cats busy.

"Catnip can be great, because it can keep them from scratching up your own stuff, and that's important," said Walker.

Having the right toys on hand can keep both you and your pet happy.

Consumer Reports says another consideration when buying a toy for your dog is to be sure to get the right-sized toy. Small dogs can hurt their teeth on hard toys meant for large dogs, and big dogs may rip apart toys meant for little dogs -- which can be a choking hazard or could cause an intestinal blockage.

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