Dog chew, lick, and slobber over their toys, almost exclusively using their mouths, potentially ingesting many of the harmful toxins and chemicals inside the plastics, fabrics, and dyes used to make dog toys. While many dog owners go a great length to feed their dogs’ healthy food and treats, many seem unaware about the long-term poisoning dog toys can cause. Poisoning by those toxins may not appear at first and build up over time, revealing itself in the form of seizures, cancers, and other malicious diseases. “Cheap soft rubber dog toys are often made in China with plastics that contain lead and mercury,” says Jme Thomas, executive director of the Motley Zoo, a non-profit, foster-based, volunteer run animal rescue.
Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dog toys, leaving the market open to potentially toxic materials, coatings, choking hazards and much more. Dyes, preservatives, and chemical residues are often found in toys. Tests conducted by ConsumerAffairs.com found a variety of toys laced with toxic heavy metals, including cadmium, lead, and chromium. From cancer agents to neurological poisons, these chemicals are often released from the toy when dogs lick and chew on them. Another health risk can come from plastics, which contain phthalates and BPAs. Especially with small dogs, it can often be deadly. According to Mollie Morrissette, an author of Poisoned Pets and an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO states “50% of toys from China contain toxins”. These toxins, in the long run, have shown to be the cause of liver and kidney damage. Some companies now follow the federal standards for lead in children’s toys – which limit lead levels to 90 ppm. However, many veterinarians question whether those guidelines should be the same as pets spend a lot more time with toys in their mouth then children do.
10 Tips for Choosing Safe Dog Toys:
- Choose rubber and plastic toys that are free of phthalates and BPA. These substances are associated with a variety of health issues, including hormonal and developmental problems.
- Purchase dog toys made out of organic fabric.
- Check labels to see if the company follows children’s toy safety guidelines.
- Ask what type of dye your dog’s toy is made with?
- Low Impact Dyes: a low-impact dye is a dye that has been classified by the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (an international certification process) as eco-friendly. Generally, low impact dyes do not contain toxic chemicals or mordants (which fix the dye to the fabric), require less rinsing and have high absorption rate in the fabric. SAFE!
- Fibre-Reactive Dyes: fibre-reactive dyes are low-impact synthetic dyes that directly bond with the garment fibers rather than merely remaining as an independent chemical entity within the fiber. While synthetic, some of the benefits are that they contain no heavy metals or other known toxic chemicals. SAFE!
- Natural Dyes (plant dyes, mineral dyes, animal dyes): are not low impact, require large quantities of dye and use remarkable quantity of petroleum fuel. Almost all natural dyes require mordants to help stick the dye to the fiber. SOMEWHAT SAFE
- Synthetic Dyes: Synthetic dyes are man-made. These dyes are made from synthetic resources such as petroleum by-products and earth minerals. This group contains AZO Dyes (which are considered to be made up of deadly poisons). OFTEN NOT SAFE
5. Avoid these finishes on your dog’s toys:
- Water Repellent – Fluoropolymers (as in Teflon) are used to repel oil and water.
- Flame Retardants
- Bacterial and Fungicidal chemicals
6. Buy dog toys that are made in the USA.
7. Purchase toys from respectable companies who put your dog’s safety first.
8. Avoid leather toys as they contain harmful dyes, finishes, and synthetic oils.
9. Choose dog toys that are appropriate for you dog type. Small dog toys for small dogs, bigger toys for bigger dogs, etc.
10. Always supervise play!
Companies that have safe dog toys: West Paw, P.L.A.Y., Planet Dog, SimplyFido, Ecohug, RuffDawg, Jax and Bones.