Non-toxic Dog Toys Shouldn’t Be Cheap
Every dog deserves a dog toy; we’d even recommend having a whole bunch of them in your dog toy collection box. However, dog toys aren’t all made to the same standards. There are currently no regulations on the toxicity of materials used in dog toy manufacturing. Most non-toxic dog toy producers oblige to existing standards meant for infant products. Making a safe, nontoxic dog toy is not easy. It requires a lot of resources to develop a single health-safe pet product and their high price tag reflects all the work, effort, testing, and ingenuity it took to make one. Not all cheap products are dangerous, but safe products are typically more expensive.
Materials That Shouldn’t be in Non-toxic Dog Toys
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or more commonly known as vinyl, this compound is sometimes used in dog toys. On its own, PVC can release chlorine over time, negatively affecting pet immune systems and even causing cancer. Naturally, PVC is very hard and other compounds are added to reduce rigidity to achieve a soft and flexible texture.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable; they’re often called plasticizers. They have detrimental effects on the reproductive systems when dogs are exposed to chewing products that contain the compound.
Bisphenol A (BPA) – This chemical substance is widely used to make epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics. BPA is banned in baby bottles in the USA, EU, and China. It also has a detrimental effect on dogs and human reproductive systems, a hallmark of a bad dog toy.
Lead – This can be found in many dog products ranging from collars to dog toys. It can come in the form of paint that enters the dog’s internal system through oral contact. Symptoms of lead poisoning in dogs may include digestive issues or abdominal pain, vomiting, blindness, unsteady walking, and tremors. Be wary of labels advertising themselves as non-toxic tennis balls for dogs as the paint could contain lead.
Chromium – Veterinarians could use this in microdoses as an insulin supplement for dogs which means they are safe in trace amounts. High levels of chromium, however, can be carcinogenic with adverse effects on the dog’s immune system, liver, and kidney.
Formaldehyde – It can be used as part of a preservative treatment for rawhide chews. It can be absorbed through the skin as well as through ingestion and inhalation. According to the EPA, it has been known to cause cancer in animals. Safer preservative compounds have replaced formaldehyde over the years, good news for our dogs.
Cadmium – This interferes with calcium metabolism which reduces calcium levels that negatively affects your dogs’ joints and kidneys. This is one of the many heavy metals found at elevated levels in tested dog and cat toys according to a 2007 ConsumerAffairs report.
Keep Up with News on Bad Dog Toys
We are sure anyone looking into non-toxic chew toys for dogs will run into the aforementioned ConsumerAffairs report that claimed to have found elevated levels of lead, chromium, and cadmium in some toys. However, two veterinarians said the levels of toxic metals found in those toys do not pose a health risk to dogs or cats in the same article. An interesting take from that report was that lead was found in higher concentrations in tennis balls meant for dogs than ones intended for human use. This was a hot topic at the time and put many of the self-proclaimed non-toxic tennis balls for dogs in the spotlight.
So where does that leave us in 2022? Staying up to date is one of the best ways to react to toy recalls. When any bad dog toys start trending, staying active and engaging with local and online pet communities will keep you in the loop. You can also post on social media for advice on a non-toxic tennis ball for dogs to get an idea of the most highly recommended brands.
Do Your Homework on Non-toxic Dog Toys
We recommend you start by conversing with your family vets and listening to what they say. Then look into organizations that focus on pet-safe product safety like the American Pet Products Association (APPA); top manufacturers make an effort to join groups like the APPA because it sends a message of safety priority to consumers.
You can personally also make an effort to investigate the merit of each non-toxic dog toy brand. Responsible dog toy manufacturers are proud to demonstrate their history of dog health safety standards. Send them an email and see how they interact with their customers, this can often tell you more about a manufacturer than labels ever will. Avoid cheap-looking toys; if they look like minimal effort was put into manufacturing, that is most likely the case.
Putting It All Together
The internet contains information on toxic substances and bad dog toys, but very few hard facts will be found. The exact concentration of a compound in each dog toy is rarely available. Realistically, your dogs are more at risk of choking and gastrointestinal issues than heavy metal poisoning caused by bad dog toys produced nowadays.
Reading blogs, articles and watching reviews are great but do not root down and side with a piece just because it says a brand of dog toy has something nasty thing in it. User reviews can only go so far that you won’t find reviewers with the knowledge or equipment to do a comprehensive toxicology analysis on dog toys. That should be the job of consumer protection agencies but it’s not there for dogs (or to police the internet) and may take a long while for proper dog toy regulations to materialize. In the meantime, you should stay proactive in searching for non-toxic chew toys for dogs and take advice from your vet.
Consumer Affairs – Pet Food Recalls