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Chinese Dog Products—Will Your Dog Be The Next Victim?– Big Barker

Ever since the scandals in 2007 and 2011 involving Chinese-made pet food and treats that killed thousands of dogs and cats, vigilant pet owners have avoided Chinese dog food like the plague. Some of America’s favorite brands—such as Iams, Purina, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition—and retailers—WalMart, Costco, Petco, PetSmart—were implicated in the heartbreaking incidents.

More than 13,000 pets died from tainted Chinese pet food and treats, and 9,000 were sickened, all due to Chinese manufacturers, who are often solely focused on profits—even at the expense of your pet’s life.

China Profits—And Your Dog Pays the Price

Deliberate activities on the part of Chinese manufacturers are often to blame when pets in the U.S. get sick. Investigators determined that many of the deaths were caused from two chemical additives that were present in some of the food: melamine and cyanuric acid. When both melamine and cyanuric are present in pet food, they form dangerous crystals in the kidneys of the dogs and cats who ingest them.

U.S. investigators discovered that adding chemicals to animal feed is a normal practice in China. In the case of these pet food contaminations, Chinese feed producers were adding melamine and cyanuric acid to wheat gluten, which is a high-protein ingredient commonly found in pet food.

You may be wondering why Chinese feed producers would add these substances to the wheat gluten used in pet food. And you may not be surprised that their motive is completely financial. The price of pet food is largely based on the protein content of the food. Producers can charge more money for food with higher protein percentages.

Both melamine and cyanuric acid are routinely added to animal feed in China as fake proteins. Neither provides any nutritional benefits to animals, but they mimic proteins when tested. Chinese pet food producers intentionally committed acts of fraud to increase their profits.

Disturbingly, even after a class-action lawsuit that awarded $24 million to the victims, it’s not clear that these practices have been discontinued in China.

U.S. Laws Have Changed—But Can You Trust China?

Effective in 2015, the U.S. Food Modernization Safety Act gives the FDA the authority to mandate pet food recalls (prior food recalls were voluntary). In addition, the new regulations require U.S. pet-food manufacturers to use basic sanitation practices to prevent product contamination and to maintain written policies to prevent food-borne illnesses.

Despite the regulatory overhaul, U.S. government agencies remain underfunded and are challenged by a consistent lack of cooperation from Chinese manufacturers, who are not subject to regulations. As U.S. government agencies devote resources to policing human food products, pets are left vulnerable. And of course, dog food recalls aren’t imposed until AFTER multiple reports of adversely affected dogs come to light. Not that comforting, is it?

To be safe, the FDA has advised U.S. pet owners to completely avoid Chinese-made pet food and treats. In addition, they caution pet owners to exclusively purchase pet food that is produced in the U.S. using domestic ingredients.

Chinese Dog Toys: Playing With Fire

While most people are aware that Chinese pet food is potentially very harmful, the problems with dog toys have flown mostly under the radar. It is important to realize, however, that dog toys are unregulated in the U.S. and in China. Many American dog-toy manufacturers voluntarily comply with the standards used for children’s toys, and all U.S. dog-toy manufacturers are limited in their use of toxic chemicals due to environmental and labor laws. On the other hand, Chinese factories do not self-regulate, nor do they face government oversight.

In 2009, the Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental organization, tested hundreds of pet products for the presence of toxins, many of which were manufactured in China. Of the approximately 400 products tested, 45 percent tested positive for the presence of at least one hazardous toxin, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. These toxins can cause a multitude of serious problems in dogs including vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and brain damage.

The Ecology Center’s test results for tennis ball dog toys were particularly disturbing.
Almost half the tennis balls tested contained lead. The lettering on one of the balls had lead levels of 2,296 parts per million. By comparison, the legal maximum amount of lead allowed in children’s toys is 90 parts per million. The dog tennis ball contained more than 25 times that amount! In addition, the ball’s lead level is worse than the maximum-allowed dietary level in dogs. A dog that is overexposed to lead could experience vomiting, weight loss, anemia, seizures, and permanent neurological damage.

The same tennis ball had arsenic levels of 262 parts per million, which is ten times more than the maximum level allowed for children’s toys. Likewise, the level of arsenic in the tennis ball exceeds the maximum dietary allowance for dogs. Arsenic poisoning in dogs can cause vomiting, diarrhea, pain, lethargy, weight loss, and unconsciousness.

Other Chinese-made toys in the study that were found to contain toxic substances such as lead, bromine, and chromium included Big Mouth Rings, Boomerang Junior, Dolce and Grrrbana Shoe Toy, Fleecy Clean Dog Toy Bone, and the Jimmy Chew. The Canine Plus Dog Toy Bug tested for a whopping 287,000ppm of chlorine!

In 2007, a forensic toxicologist tested Chinese-made pet toys for ConsumerAffairs.com and found that some contained toxic heavy metals including cadmium, chromium, and lead. According to the toxicologist, the poisonous chemicals could be released from the toys when dogs lick and chew them. In addition, the toxicologist pointed out that the toxins can cause cancer and neurological damage.

The scary thing is that if your dog ever gets sick from playing with Chinese-made toys, it’s unlikely that you or your vet would ever be able to discover the cause of her illness. The basket of toys you have sitting in your living room could be causing pain and suffering in your pet without you ever knowing it.

Bottom line? Even if you have stopped purchasing Chinese pet food products, you may be enjoying a false sense of security if you have not eliminated every Chinese-made product from the reach of your dog. Food and treats are simply not the only dangers.

A 100% Safe Rest

Big Barker is one of the very few dog bed manufacturers that insists on sourcing every ounce of our foam in the United States. And our upcoming article on the dangers of Chinese-made dogs beds will shock you every bit as much as the treat and toy scandals that we’ve discussed above. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you want to remind your fellow dog lovers about the very serious dangers of Chinese-made pet products, please share this article on Facebook and Twitter. The health and safety of a beloved pet may depend on it!

How to Find Non-Toxic Dog Toys and Tell If a Toy is Safe

 
You may have read scary reports about toxins such as lead turning up in dog toys, or shady manufacturing processes for dog chews and toys brought in overseas from places like China. But there’s one thing you probably haven’t heard: How to tell whether the dog toy you just bought, or are about to buy, might be toxic.

The simple reason why is, when it comes to toys designed specifically for dogs (and pets in general), there isn’t the same oversight and strict regulation that you might find in, for instance, children’s toys. In fact, one of the main benchmarks that would require testing for a dog toy is whether a child might come into contact with it. 

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that there are resources, tricks, and specific products that can help you ensure the toys you give your dog will probably be safe for them to bite, chew, and chase.

In this article, you will learn how to check whether a dog toy might have potential toxins or even potentially toxic levels of naturally occurring elements (e.g., lead), as well as the different types of potentially dangerous elements, compounds, and chemicals that could be in your dog’s toys. Or, if you just want to skip to the end, you can check our recommendations for dog chew and fetch toys.

How to Check a Dog Toy for Potential Toxins

• Be especially cautious of dog toys that are manufactured overseas if you can’t verify what’s in them — and even cheap toys that are manufactured in the U.S.

• Search the Archived Pet Supply Data to see if your product has been tested for toxins.
Check your product against the FDA’s list of recalled and withdrawn products.

• Ask the manufacturer about the presence of PVC, phthalates, BPA, lead, chromium, melamine, arsenic, bromine, formaldehyde.

• If you suspect problems with a toy and your dog is behaving strangely, bring them to the vet, along with the toy for evaluation or testing.

Who Regulates Dog Toy Safety?

No one. Next question.

OK, maybe that’s not a satisfying answer. But it’s an unfortunate truth when it comes to toxins in dog toys. We reached out to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for answers about dog toy safety regulations. Specifically, we asked the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, which said that the FDA regulates drugs, devices, and feed given to “companion and food-producing animals.” However, neither that agency nor any government or non-government organization regulates any of the following:

  • Pet accessories like toys, beds, and crates
  • Grooming aids
  • Cat litter
  • Bedding for pet birds and small animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters

The FDA referred us to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), which responded by email, saying that “the Association is not a regulatory body therefore we are not in a position to offer advice to consumers on this topic.” 

Of the agencies and organizations we reached out to, all of them recommended that consumers contact the manufacturers themselves to ask about the manufacturing process. But if you’re trying to figure out whether something is safe to give to your dog, it’s not always practical (or easy) to contact or get a quick response from the manufacturer. When we attempted to contact manufacturers they were responsive, but it took about 24 hours, on average, to receive a response. Only one company gave its assurance that the products were safe, another provided actual testing results, and another simply didn’t respond.

  • A customer service rep from PetSafe (manufacturers of the Busy Buddy® Bouncy Bone) said they do not have testing results available, but assured that “all of our pet toys go through the same safety testing and regulations as toys intended for infants.” 
  • We called Multipet (which is one of the first results for “rubber dog toy” on Amazon) and were told to send an email. A Multipet representative responded that “Pet toys that warrant (based on their structure ) are tested and analyzed for toxins against Phthalate Analysis including Lead content with reference to CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) directive.” Multipet even sent a sample test report for the Magic Block Hair Brush, which you can view here.
  • We reached out by email to Petmate (makers of Chuckit!), but received no response.

Fortunately, there are other resources available to help you research your dog’s toys.

How to Check if a Dog Toy Contains Toxins

Though there isn’t an all-encompassing database for all types of pet products, there are some resources you can use to find out what chemicals and compounds might be in a dog toy.

Healthy Stuff, a project of The Ecology Center, has an online library of test results for many brand name pet products. If you visit the Archived Pet Supply Data page, you’ll find an alphabetized list of products, each of which contain test results for things like chlorine, chromium, arsenic, bromine, cadmium, tin, antimony, mercury, and lead. When the Healthy Stuff team ran their tests, they uncovered a few surprising facts: 

  • 45% of products had detectable levels of hazardous toxins
  • 48% percent contained detectable levels of lead
  • About half of the products had lead levels higher than the allowable standard for children’s toys

(Read “Beware of Lead and Toxic Toys” to learn more about the test results.) 

The FDA also maintains a searchable list of livestock and pet products that have been recalled or withdrawn from the market. The list is rather small, but it’s good to check — just in case.

Alternatively, if you want to go the DIY route, the Environmental Protection Agency has a recommendation for consumers. The 3M Instant Lead Test is mostly used to test for lead on painted surfaces, but the website states it detects lead on “most surfaces.”

Buy on Amazon

If you still can’t find an answer and reeeally want to be sure, you can send the product in for testing. Just know that this will be expensive and time-consuming, and you will only be able to test for a few compounds, like lead. If you’re interested in doing so, the APPA has a list of test laboratories for pet products. Again, it’s expensive — the one we reached out to charged $250 to test for BPA alone, and as much as $525 for phthalates.

Chemicals That Are Potentially Toxic to Dogs

In 2007, Consumer Affairs revealed that it had found “elevated levels” of lead, chromium, and cadmium in two Chinese-made pet toys sold at Wal-Mart. The dog toy tested at 1 part per million for lead, leading Consumer Affairs to the conclusion that “if a dog is chewing on it or licking it, he’s getting a good source of lead.”

And this is especially true the longer a dog gnaws on or licks the toy, as the lead was also “leaching” out of the toys, meaning that the lead could then be swallowed with the dog’s saliva and be absorbed into the bloodstream through the gut, even if the dog didn’t swallow pieces of the toy itself.

Toxins That Might Be Present in Dog Chews and Dog Toys

  • PVC: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) by itself is generally not dangerous to dogs, but manufacturers often use toxic chemical additives to make the PVC more soft and flexible.
  • Phthalates: An additive often used in PVC products. Over time, they can leach out and absorb through the skin (like your dog’s gums) and cause damage to their liver and kidneys.
  • BPA: Bisphenol A is an endocrine-disrupting chemical and “the presence of BPA in dogs was associated with changes to their gut microbiome and metabolism,” according to Time.
  • Lead: Can damage multiple organs, including the nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. Signs of lead poisoning in dogs might include a lack of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, anxiety, hysterical barking, jaw champing (rapid clenching), salivation, blindness, lack of coordination, or muscle spasms.
  • Chromium: Though chromium has been used as an insulin supplement for dogs (among other uses) high enough levels can be toxic and have been shown to cause cancer in humans.
  • Melamine: Has been linked with kidney failure from pet foods that were recalled due to the presence of melamine.
  • Arsenic: Heavy metal mineral that can lead to signs such a vomiting and loss of consciousness, and even death in extreme doses.
  • Bromine: A chemical often used as a pet-safer alternative to chlorine in pools, but it can cause digestive upset and changes to urination.
  • Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is commonly used to preserve chews such as rawhides. With long-term exposure, or high enough doses, it could cause problems for dogs, including possible respiratory or digestive irritation.

When Does it Become Toxic?

Keep in mind that there are no officially accepted safety standards for the concentrations of these things in pet products, and experts will disagree about the amount at which they become dangerous for dogs, aka the “threshold.” Lead is most often a problem in paint, which can present a serious danger if your dog eats lead paint chips (lead paint wasn’t banned in the U.S  until 1978).

Charlotte Flint, Senior Consulting Veterinarian for Clinical Toxicology at Pet Poison Helpline & Safety Call International, said in an email that “toys and chews are not a common source of lead poisoning in dogs and cats, but occasionally lead is found in unexpected places such as imported toys, antique children’s toys, and toy jewelry for children.”

“Puppies and kittens are more sensitive to the effects of lead as compared to adult dogs and cats,” Flint said. “Signs of lead poisoning in pets include vomiting, decreased energy and appetite, weight loss, as well as neurologic signs like seizures, tremors, and uncoordinated movements. On bloodwork, significant changes in the number and/or appearance of red blood cells can also be seen.”

When it comes to BPA and phthalates, Flint said the “toxic significance” for pets is “not clear currently.” Fortunately, some pet toys specifically call out on their packaging when they’re free of BPA and phthalates making it easier for you to avoid them, unlike lead. 

 

Important Contributing Factors to Toxins and Dogs

For toxins, it’s all about the exposure and dosage. After all, many human foods contain some level of arsenic, but that doesn’t mean those foods are toxic. There’s a big difference between the presence of a potential toxin and a toxic dose. 

While we don’t know the “threshold” for toxins in pet toys, we do  know the toxic blood levels of many chemicals and compounds. For example, it’s considered lead poisoning in dogs if they have a blood-lead concentration of .35 parts per million, 10 parts per million in the liver, and 10 parts per million in the kidney.

When it comes to toxins and dogs, the most important factors that could lead to a toxic level of any given chemical include:

  • Presence: Does the manufacturer state or test for levels (concentrations) of toxins in their products?
  • Exposure: What type of a product is it? There’s more chance of a toxin reaching a problematic level within a dog’s bloodstream or other internal organs (like their liver, kidneys, nervous system, etc.) if it’s a product that’s meant to be eaten as opposed to chewed, unless it’s a compound that can leach out of the toy as it’s chewed or licked. Likewise, toxins in a water bowl are more likely to leach out (since the water will be in contact with the bowl for long periods of time) and enter your dog’s system.
  • Physiology: What might be a toxic dose for a small dog might be relatively harmless for a much larger dog. Similarly, an older dog might be more at risk than a young, healthier dog.

Our Recommended Dog Toys and Chews

If you don’t feel like checking toys against the limited testing reports on Archived Pet Supply Data or reaching out to manufacturers, we don’t blame you. So, to make things a little easier, here are a few options for dog chew (edible and non-edible) and fetch toys that have a lower risk of toxins… and they’re pretty good toys to boot.

Fetch Toys, Tug-of-War Toys, and Food Puzzles

West Paw Designs

This U.S.-based company consider themselves a dog’s best friend. West Paw is known for their thoughtful design,  sustainable manufacturing and safe materials,  which you can read here. But, beyond just the mark they’re making on our environment, they also have developed an incredible number of durable and unique toys. The Bumi Tug Toy is a favorite here at Preventive Vet. This tug toy is a soft alternative for your pup and can withstand some tough tugs! And after a day of tugging, it’s even better knowing you can toss it in the dishwasher.

Bumi Tug Toy
Buy on Amazon | Buy on Chewy

The Qwizl is ideal for inserting treats, so it takes longer for your dog to finish the treat and engages your dog’s brain. Because of the long shape and hollow core, the Qwizl can also take a bully stick (if your dog plays with them safely), and healthy apple slices or carrots.

Qwizl Treat Toy
Buy on Amazon | Buy on Chewy

The Topple Treat Toy is a great brain-engaging feeding and treating puzzle for dogs. Not only is it made with their proprietary Zogoflex rubber (so it’s durable, dishwasher safe, and latex-free), but it’s also designed to allow you to combine two Toppls to increase the difficulty for your dog as they get smarter. 

Toppl Treat Toy
Buy on Amazon | Buy on Chewy

Kong

Kong makes a variety of highly popular rubber chew toys and interactive feeders on the market. Most of their products are made in the U.S., though several are manufactured in China and imported. However, the company assured Consumer Affairs that all of its Chinese-made products “undergo rigorous testing,” adding, that “all imported KONG product lines are tested by independent laboratories, once in China and again in the U.S. to prove they are safe and non-toxic.”

KONG Classic Large 
Buy on Amazon | Buy on Chewy

KONG Extreme
Buy on Amazon | Buy on Chewy

KONG Puppy
Buy on Amazon | Buy on Chewy

The Stick That’s Not a Stick

This new fetch toy that’s shaped like a stick, but doesn’t have the same hazards of a stick for dogs. The product is made overseas, specifically by an Italian pet product manufacturer, but has been tested and is made from non-toxic materials. After extensive research (and having a lot of fun testing with our pups), we at Preventive Vet finally found that this fetch toy meets our criteria for safety as a fetch toy.

Edible Dog Chews

Qchefs Chews

Qchefs’ Dental Dog Chews are casein-based (a milk protein, rich in amino acids) dog dental treats that, according to the manufacturer, “are all natural” and free of the toxins we have mentioned in this article. Depending on the exact chew, the main ingredients include casein, buckwheat, carob, and rice; plus organic glycerin from coconut and rapseed oil.

 

Virbac Dental Chews

Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Chews have been clinically proven to help control tartar (and have the VOHC Seal of Acceptance to prove it), have a texture and density that takes most dogs several minutes to get through, and most dogs love them. The rawhide chews are also free from formaldehyde, according to Chewy.

More Information on Dog Chews and Toy Safety 

Playing Tug of War Without Encouraging Aggression in Dogs 

Teaching Your Dog to Play Fetch (and Return)

Which Bones Are Safe For Your Dog

6 Dog Toy Dangers You Should Know

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when picking out dog toys for your furry best friend. Tug toys, balls, plush toys and dog interactive toys—there are almost too many options. Your dog’s toys are an important part of his life for both exercise and mental stimulation, and picking the right ones can make life better on both ends of the leash. While it’s a fair assumption that USA-made products are always the safest way to go, there are still additional considerations you should take into account. Watch out for these dog toy dangers to keep your dog’s playtime as healthy and constructive as possible.

Laser Pointers

This “toy” seems like a fantastic option because your dog can’t get his paws on it and therefore can’t destroy it. Plus, using a laser pointer is an easy way to exercise your dog without exerting any effort, right? Not exactly.

Laser pointers can teach dogs to always be on the hunt for moving light patterns, which can translate to wanting to chase any shifting light. That means your dog might start tracking the reflection from a watch face moving across the ground, or the lights of a passing car bouncing on the wall. Some dogs fixate on moving lights to the point of developing an OCD-like need to go after all shifting light. Add to that the fact that there’s no payoff for laser-play for your pup—the dog never gets to take down his prey—and you have a recipe for a frustrating and potentially hazardous game.

Human Toys

Before you repurpose a human toy for your dog, make sure to inspect it with an eye for how dogs play. Many of the aspects that make toys unsafe for young children—like pieces that can come off and pose a choking hazard—are also obviously hazardous for dogs. But, keep in mind that dogs are exponentially tougher on their toys than children, so features that might not be of concern for human play can pose a greater danger for dogs. The seams on higher quality plush dog toys are usually reinforced to withstand rough play, which isn’t the case for children’s soft toys. That means that the dog will have quicker access to whatever the toy is stuffed with, from polyfil to plastic pellets. Add to that unusual materials on some human toys like shiny metallic textiles and pluck-able fur and hair, and you have the potential for ingested objects and “linear foreign bodies” like string that can get wrapped around the back of the tongue or twisted in the intestines.

Plastic “Chew” Bones

Dog-safe bones are made of animal parts and are meant for some degree of consumption, and plastic toys are made for play, but there are several brands on the market that make this distinction unclear. Some plastic or rubber “bones” are often flavored to encourage chewing, but if you read the fine print on the packing you’ll see that they’re meant for “dental stimulation” not consumption. Tell that to a determined dog!

If you have an aggressive chewer, opt for a dog-safe bone like bully sticks or marrow bones, or a treat-stuffable “busy” toy that won’t break into pieces with lots of chomping. And to be extra careful, always supervise your dog when he’s chewing on something until you’re sure that he can’t rip off small pieces—or worse, swallow it whole.

Surprise Choking Hazards

It’s a simple enough concept that most pet parents understand—you shouldn’t give your dog toys that are small enough for him to choke on. However, sometimes the line between good fun and a potential hazard isn’t clear, especially when play gets vigorous. Even tennis balls, the go-to dog toy, can pose a risk. If the ball is launched high and the dog leaps up to get it with his head back, it can get wedged in the back of the dogs’ mouth behind the rear teeth, blocking the dog’s airway. To avoid blockage accidents, any toy used in fast-moving play should be sized so that it doesn’t fit completely in a dog’s mouth.

Balls With a Single Hole

Balls made for dogs must have at least two holes in them to prevent dangerous suction from building up within the toy as the dog chews on it (appropriately-sized balls without holes are fine). This could have dangerous—and even deadly—consequences.

Most plastic and rubber balls made specifically for dogs now adhere to this safety standard, but be aware that there are still toys on the market that have a hidden single-hole hazard. Tug toys that have a ball attached to a string might only have one hole where the rope is threaded in, and if the dog chews the rope off that leaves a dangerous single-hole ball. Always checks to make sure that your dog’s ball toys have at least two holes to prevent accidents.

Cheap Toys of Dubious Origin

Unfortunately, there are no safety standards in place that require dog toy manufacturers to test the levels of chemicals present in their products, so that $4 “Made-in-China” vinyl toy your dog is slobbering on could contain hazardous toxins. If you have a dog that likes to destroy his toys it might seem like a wise economic choice to buy inexpensive toys, but investing in high-quality, USA-made products is likely better for your dog’s long-term health. (Keep in mind, USA-made is not a guarantee of quality and safety.)

Look for toys that are listed as nontoxic and, if possible, BPA-and-phthalate-free.Take a close look at the toy’s packaging before you purchase it—some manufacturers attempt to camouflage the manufacturing location by adding a large American flag with the designation “designed in the USA.”


Victoria Schade is a dog trainer, author & speaker who has contributed to The Washington Post, Martha Stewart, and other publications.

How to Avoid Buying Pet Products with Toxic Chemicals

Ah, the irony. So many animals – mostly beagle puppies, rats, mice, and rabbits – are used in animal testing, purportedly to protect human health, and yet we humans don’t use any of the resulting data to protect our pets from toxic chemicals in their toys, bedding, and other products. 

Be it phthalates or lead in dog toys and wheels for pet hamsters, or formaldehyde in cat beds, there are plenty of chemicals lurking in the objects our pets interact with every day, not to mention other potential hazards. So, if you’re looking for safe dog toys or cat toys and other eco-friendly, non-toxic pet products, what should you watch out for?

See also: The CDC’s phthalates Fact Sheet.

What does the industry say?

In a fun case of circular thinking, some industry representatives at the American Pet Product Association (APPA) noted in one interview that because there’s no clear scientific evidence showing problems linked to chemicals in dog chew toys, there’s no basis for investigating safety limits on such chemicals in pet toys. Er, yeah, that’s not how science should work. That’s like covering your eyes and walking towards a cliff edge while claiming there’s no danger because you can’t see you’re about to fall. Open your eyes, industry!

And anyway, there is evidence of harm to animals from exposure to chemicals in everyday household objects. Indeed, dogs (and cats and other non-human animals) share the same home environment we do but may have even greater exposure to some chemicals because they tend to explore their environment with their mouths and spend more time in close contact with household textiles and dusty or dirty floors.

As such, some scientists have even proposed that dogs should be seen as sentinels for human exposure to toxic chemicals, especially as the incidence of certain types of cancer has increased in dogs as their exposure to these chemicals has increased.

Harkening back to Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, some researchers have also suggested that cats should be seen as sentinels for exposure to toxic chemicals in house dust. This dust is far from harmless as it contains phthalates, formaldehyde, heavy metals, and other plasticizers, flame retardants, and chemicals that disrupt normal physiological processes. 

Why does it matter?

Dogs are mammals like us humans and suffer from many of the same diseases and health issues we face. For example, mammary adenocarcinoma is pretty similar in humans and dogs, with both species seemingly facing a higher risk of this type of cancer when exposed to high levels of polychlorobisphenyl (PCB) congeners, a type of persistent organic pollutant (POP) (R).

POPs include dioxins, dioxin-like and non dioxin-like polychlorobisphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated alkylated substances. All of these have been found in dogs diagnosed for mammary adenocarcinoma (R).

In humans and dogs, these POPs are stored predominantly in blood and adipose (fat) tissue, and it’s highly likely that they are transmitted to puppies through the umbilical cord and maternal milk just as human infants are exposed to these chemicals (R, R).

Chemicals such as dioxins not only increase risk for certain cancers, they are also linked to reproductive problems and developmental problems, as well as immune system damage. This means that puppies and kittens are made more vulnerable to illness and disease even before they’re born. For more information, see the CDC Fact Sheet on Dioxins.

Why dogs and cats face a higher risk of problems than humans

POPs accumulate the higher up you go in the food chain. This means that dogs that eat a meat- or fish-only diet are likely ingesting higher amounts of toxic chemicals than dogs eating a predominantly plant-based diet. Similarly, cats fed a largely meat or fish diet also have a higher proportional degree of exposure to these chemicals than humans or cats eating lower amounts of animal products.

Dogs and cats also interact with toys in a way that increases their exposure to toxic chemicals, such as by carrying toys in their mouths or chewing on toys for hours at a time. The mechanical pressure of chewing, plus a good amount of slobber, and some heat from warm dog breath and friction, all contribute to increased leaching of chemicals from chew toys (R).

Dogs and cats may also swallow small pieces of toys too, with veterinarians often noting the hardness of previously rubbery plastics retrieved from animals during surgery. This hardness indicates that the plasticizers, often phthalates, that made a toy more flexible and softer have leached into the animal.

And, because dogs and cats tend to sleep on the floor or on beds or blankets made with non-organic cotton, or synthetic fabric, they are also exposed to chemicals through this route too. As for rats, mice, and other smaller critters, because they tend to chew everything in sight, they may be exposed to significant amounts of toxic chemicals. Given their relatively small size, this can quickly lead to harmful concentrations of toxic chemicals in blood and other tissues.

Are toxic chemicals really an issue in pet products?

If you’re skeptical as to the extent of the problem of toxic chemicals in pet products, consider the case of Nancy Rogers. Over a decade ago, Nancy, a nurse, sent two dozen of her dogs’ chew toys for testing at a laboratory. This was at her own expense and followed the deaths of two of her relatively young dogs and her increasing suspicion that their deaths were linked to their repeated exposure to chemicals in training toys.

What the tests revealed was that one of the dogs’ favorite tennis balls contained 335.7 parts per million (ppm) of lead, below the allowable lead level for children’s toys at the time, but now far higher than the allowable level of just 90 ppm in Europe.

A couple of years after Rogers sought her own testing of toys, so did the Michigan-based Ecology Center, a non-profit organization that analyzes toxic chemicals in consumer goods including children’s toys. The organization had hundreds of pet toys tested, including tennis balls, as well as pet beds, collars, and leashes. Almost half of these products (45%) had detectable levels of at least one hazardous chemical. Those chemicals included heavy metals such as arsenic and lead, as well as bromine and chlorine.

Lead was found in a whopping 48% of the tennis balls tested. One dog ball had 2,696 ppm of lead and 262 ppm of arsenic just in the lettering on the ball. The researchers found that tennis balls intended for use by humans did not contain lead, however, but these tennis balls often contain fiberglass in the cover and can cause problems of their own, such as filing down a dog’s teeth.

Some retailers set their own standards for pet product safety. PetSmart, for instance, claim to test and review products periodically to ensure safety, but these standards and testing methods are not public, nor are they standardized across the retail industry, which leaves manufacturers somewhat confused.

Some manufacturers have voluntarily adopted standards for European lead levels in children’s toys and/or other types of consumer product safety standards. Again, though, companies are inconsistent with this and don’t make the results of any testing, or their processes, public. None of this inspires much confidence that the work is actually being done.

Part of the problem here is that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has no jurisdiction over pet products. This stems from the simple fact that dogs, cats, and other non-human animals are not granted personhood and consumer status or the rights that go with those things. And, even if the CPSC jumped in to safeguard the health of humans interacting with pet products, the reality is that we don’t interact with pet products in the same ways as our pets.

How can you minimize risk for your dog and cat?

As always, one of the best ways to avoid toxic chemicals is to see if a toy passes the sniff test. If it smells like chemicals, chances are that it contains things you and your pet are best to avoid. Toys treated with stain resistant compounds or fire retardants are definitely to be avoided, and I’d also avoid toys made with conventionally grown cotton (unless it is post-consumer recycled cotton).

Some dangers are a bit more obvious, such as small parts or decorations on toys that could constitute a choking hazard for a dog. It’s also not unheard of to find sewing needles, pins, or other foreign objects in plush toys meant for dogs. As such, it’s best to check all toys through visual inspection and by squishing them before giving them to an animal.

Tennis balls 

I’ve already mentioned some of the issues with tennis balls, such as high levels of lead in balls intended for use by dogs. Tennis balls are also a choking hazard for some dogs, so it’s important to make sure you use the right size ball for your dog or, if your dog can easily fit a whole tennis ball in their mouth, avoid tennis balls altogether and go for something bigger. 

Synthetic rubber and ‘natural’ latex

Many dog toys are made with synthetic rubber (basically a type of plastic) or ‘natural’ rubber. The problem is, there are no marketing standards governing the term ‘natural’, which means consumers have no way of telling if a dog toy is similar to the 100% natural Dunlop latex in mattresses and pillows or is some chemical composite with a dash of rubber tree latex in there to ease a manufacturer’s conscience. 

Frankly, I don’t know enough about chemical engineering to know if it’s possible to make a natural rubber dog toy without harmful chemicals that would withstand the rigors of being a chew toy or similar. Talalay and Dunlop latex would, to my mind, be too soft to hold up against an enthusiastic dog. 

What I do know is that many rubber dog toys do contain toxic dyes, lead, formaldehyde, dioxins, and other chemicals that you and your dog are best to avoid. Unless a toy clearly states that it has been tested by a third-party organization and has been found to be free of or have very low levels of problematic chemicals, I’d stay away.

Stuffed toys

Stuffed toys that are intended for use by children are typically not a great idea for dogs, cats, or other pets. These toys are less robust than necessary for use by a dog and will likely contain things such as small plastic pieces for eyes, hands, noses, and so on, as well as ribbons that could become a choking hazard or cause a digestive obstruction for any animal. Even tags, squeakers, buttons, and other elements of toys sold in pet stores can be hazards for pets and should be removed (in most cases) before giving your dog, cat, rabbit, rat, or other pet a new toy.

Stuffed toys also typically contain polyester fill or some other kind of synthetic fibers and may have been dyed with harsh azo dyes or other chemicals linked to an increased risk of cancer. Even stuffed or fabric toys made with cotton or other natural material may have been treated with toxic chemicals such as flame retardants, antibacterial treatments, moth repellents, or other substances, and could contain residual pesticides from agricultural use. 

In general, then, avoid buying stuffed or fabric toys made in China or other parts of Asia where manufacturing safety standards are much lower than in the US; only buy toys intended for specific use by dogs or cats or, at a push, by infants under the age of 36 months. The standards, especially in the EU, for these toys are higher than for toys intended for older children. Watch out for potentially toxic dyes or other chemical treatments and ask the company making the toy about their manufacturing processes and standards before buying.

In addition, inspect all new stuffed toys thoroughly. Manufacturing defects or mistakes can create hazards for your dog, cat, or other pet. In some cases, long sewing needles or other sharp objects have been left inside dog toys. Squeeze and feel around the toy to check for any potential problems.

Hazards of single air holes

One of the strangest concerns to have arisen in recent years over dog toys is the issue of single air hole toys. Any toy with a single air hole can become a potentially fatal hazard, especially if the toy is also slightly squishable. This is because a dog may put their tongue into the toy, to lick out some peanut butter, say, and simultaneously bite the toy. When they release the bite, this creates a vacuum that can suck their tongue further into the toy. If their tongue gets stuck, this can cause breathing problems, severe tongue damage, and the possibility of a dog requiring surgery or even dying from asphyxiation due to a swollen tongue and mouth obstruction.

If you do have a toy with a single air hole, consider drilling additional holes around the toy to reduce the risk of a vacuum occurring.

Avoid vinyl pet products

Many manufacturers make vinyl dog toys and other pet products and try to tell you that these are safe for your furry friends. They’re not. While vinyl itself is inert and unlikely to prove toxic to your dog, cat, guinea pig or other pet, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to give your pets old vinyl records to play with. Instead, these ‘vinyl’ toys are treated with a variety of chemicals to make them softer and more flexible, as well as to confer bright colors, flavors, scents, and other qualities deemed attractive to pets and their human companions.

Some of the chemicals used to manufacture pet toys made with vinyl include:

  • Bisphenol-A – used as a stabilizing antioxidant in certain phthalate preparations, BPA stops phthalates from degrading, but BPA is a strong endocrine disruptor, mimicking estrogen and increasing the risk of reproductive cancers and other health problems. From an article in Time magazine, “the presence of BPA in dogs was associated with changes to their gut microbiome and metabolism”.
  • Alkyl-phenols (nonyl and octyl) – these are also estrogen mimickers and are used to prepare phthalates for use in plastics or for the production of flexible PVC.
  • Lead – a softening agent and sometimes present in paints. Lead causes nerve damage and cognitive and behavioral problems. There is no safe level of lead for humans or dogs and I’d recommend staying away from painted or plastic dog toys, especially those made in China and not certified lead-free. Dogs with lead poisoning typically exhibit signs and symptoms such as vomiting, weight loss, anemia, seizures, lack of appetite, salivation, jaw champing, constipation, anxiety, anxious barking, blindness, lack of coordination, muscle spasms, and issues related to permanent nerve damage. Ongoing exposure can affect multiple organ systems and prove fatal. 
  • Organotins – used as stabilizers in vinyl products, mono- and di-butyltins are widespread and are damaging to the immune system.
  • Arsenic – a heavy metal sometimes found in vinyl dog toys and other pet products. Arsenic poisoning in dogs can lead to vomiting, loss of consciousness, and death in some cases.
  • Melamine – a chemical (and a plastic) used to produce laminates, glues, molding compounds, coatings and flame retardants, as well as dinnerware. Melamine was linked to kidney failure in pets and led to a massive pet food recall by the FDA.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production has long been linked to an increased incidence of cancer, especially liver cancer, in production workers, end users, and in pets (R). Liver cancer isn’t the only issue though, with many more problems associated with the chemicals noted above and with phthalates, a type of chemical commonly used to soften vinyl to make flexible dog toys and other pet products.

Phthalates

In one study, scientists simulated the action of a dog chewing a toy to assess how this affected the leaching of phthalates and BPA from toys. They looked at a range of dog toys including ‘bumpers’, a type of toy commonly used to train agility and service dogs. 

Results showed that leachates from toys were mostly made up of di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and BPA. Other chemicals that leached from the toys included other phthalates such as benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), and dimethyl phthalate (DMP).

The researchers found that leachates from these toys had anti-androgenic activity and estrogenic activity, confirming that these dog toys are potential sources of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Interestingly, toys stored outdoors prior to study leached lower levels of BPA but higher levels of phthalates, suggesting a no-win situation.

DEHP and BPA have been banned for use in some children’s products in the US, including in baby bottles, but not in dog toys or toys for cats, rabbits, or other pets. In the tests mentioned a moment ago, the amount of DEHP and BPA in dog toys was at the high end of what might show up in some children’s toys.

Levels of these chemicals were much higher in bumpers than in other dog toys, which is worrisome considering how many service dogs carry these bumpers in their mouths for long periods when learning to retrieve.

Danish researchers stood up for the rights of dogs in a 2006 report published by the Danish Ministry of the Environment, noting that dogs can suffer the same adverse effects of phthalates as humans and other mammals. The researchers reviewed the results of a 2005 investigation into vinyl toys made for dogs and cats and sold in Denmark. This study found that two types of phthalates, DEHP and DINP, made up 10-54% of the content of the toys. 

These two phthalates were both among the six already banned by the EU for use in children’s products, which prompted the researchers to look at the rate of transfer of phthalates to dogs and cats who play with the toys.

The Danish researchers also assessed the data on the health effects of DEHP and DINP on rats and dogs and found that the phthalates cause similar damage to the animals’ livers and reproductive health. The reason they compared to data on the two species was because there’s relatively little data on health impacts on dogs. Following their analysis, the researchers reasoned that they might be able to extrapolate results from studies on rats and humans to estimate health effects in dogs.

The key conclusions of the study were that dogs who consume even a small amount of PVC from toys can be exposed to hazardous levels of DEHP that affect reproductive health; the mechanical action of chewing, coupled with dog saliva, may increase exposure to toxic chemicals in dog toys; exposure to these chemicals during gestation could affect the reproductive health of puppies; liver damage may occur with even small amounts of exposure to DINP from these dog toys; and combined exposure to phthalates from toys, leashes, food bowls, bedding, carriers, crates, clothing, and household items like flooring may be significant and detrimental to dogs’ health.

Of course, dogs aren’t the only pets at risk of health problems related to phthalates and PVC. Researchers have long known that exposure to DEHP and di(n-butyl) phthalate (DBP) during sexual differentiation causes male reproductive tract malformations in rats and rabbits (R). DEHP exposure during development in mice has also been seen to affect the regulation of the AhR/Cyp1a1 brain signaling pathway and disrupt defense processes in brain cells, with the potential to increase susceptibility to environmental toxins in later life (R). 

Other studies in rats have shown that maternal DEHP exposure appears to increase susceptibility to brain cell damage in male offspring in particular (R). And, in mice again, DEHP exposure decreased fertility via a variety of pathways, including oxidative stress, cell death, DNA damage, mitochondrial damage, reduced cellular energy, disturbed chromosomal alignment, adverse effects on sperm receptors on the cell membranes of eggs, and more (R).

In general, then, if a pet product has a #3 PVC or #3 V label or is clearly labelled as made with PVC or vinyl, it’s best to avoid that toy and go for something else. The same goes for any toy without clear labeling.

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, but the main thing to remember is that as long as our dogs, cats, and other animal companions aren’t protected by robust legislation and regulation, it’s up to us, as responsible human companions, to do our best to minimize their exposure to toxic chemicals.

This means choosing non-toxic dog chew toys and flying toys, eco-friendly cat trees and bedding, and safe, non-toxic cages and play wheels for our smaller pets such as guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, rats, and mice.

The good news

Given everything I’ve just mentioned as a potential hazard, it would be easy to think that there are no safe pet products. Happily, some companies are making non-toxic, eco-friendly dog toys, cat beds, and so on, and I’ll be posting reviews of these as quickly as I can to help you find the perfect pet product for your animal companions. As always, if you know of an eco-friendly, non-toxic product worthy of attention, get in touch so I can check it out. 

A Safer Choice for Pets (2017)

Finding a quality dog toy that is safe, durable and interesting to your dog is quite a tall order these days. After so many reports about dangerous China-made stuff, most pet owners know that any buying dog supplies online, and especially dog toys made in America can give you a peace of mind. Regulations in the US are more strict than in places like China. Now we’ve picked the best dog toys made in USA that may be a safer choice for your Fido.

If your puppy or adult dog goes through a lot of pet toys on a regular basis, then you’ve probably realized that they are not all made to the same quality standard. Depending on how your dog likes to play, you’ll need to choose an appropriate dog toy that will meet his needs. Does he like to chew? Does he like to fetch, play tug? Let’s search!

You can find cheap chew toys for just $1-$2, but how many of them are safe for dogs? Safety of dog toys is not the only concern, either. While it may seem like a great deal, from my personal experience, most of these one dollar dog toys last only a day or two, and dogs quickly eat them up.

In this article, I would like to talk a little about the safety and quality of dog toys made in China versus dog toys made in America. I’ve also done  the research and picked out five best dog toys made in the USA that we’ll cover further in this article:

* Click on the USA dog toy brand for more information and prices, or scroll down below for more details.

Are all dog toys made in China unsafe?

No. According to the reports from APPA and Ecology Center, only some manufacturers use ingredients in making dog toys that may be toxic to dogs. However, because the regulations in China on manufacturing toys for pets are very loose, buying cheap ones from there may expose you to high risk.

Things pet owners should watch out for is BPA, philates, lead and other toxic ingredients. Fortunately, regulations in the USA on manufacturing pet toys and toys for children are very strict, and most of the harmful substances have been banned, as per CPSC.

Generally, it’s more or less safe to say that majority of dog toys made in America, or at least dog toys made in USA specifically, are safe for puppies and adult dogs. However, here’s the challenge: most companies outsource manufacturing of their dog supplies, and especially toys for dogs. So how do you know which dog toys are made in the USA?

We’ve done some research, and found top dog toy choices that are great for puppies, adult dogs and senior dogs. Besides safety and being American made, we’ve also made sure to pick dog toys that are fun and durable yet still affordable. Dog toys made in USA are not only safe, but they’re also faster to ship and have better customer support.

Top 5 Best Dog Toys Made in USA
American made: a safer choice for our pets

1Chuckit! Ultra Balls

The Chuckit! Ultra Ball is smarter than your average ball. With a high spring in its bounce, it makes for a stimulating game of fetch. And it’s not just for throwing in the park. The Ultra Ball floats too. It’s the ideal toy for water-loving retrievers. Say goodbye to grubby, slobber-covered tennis balls. The Ultra Ball is as practical as it is fun. Made from high quality and durable materials, this is a high visibility ball that’s easy to wash and can withstand a lot of chewing.

One of the best dog toys made in USA, the Ultra Ball caters to dogs of all sizes and is available in small (2”), medium (2.5”), large (3”), X-large (3.5”) and XX-large (4”). When purchasing this ball, you can choose from one and two-pack options. It’s also compatible with the Chuckit! Dog Toy Launcher for a long-distance game of fetch.

Dog owners report their pets favor this toy not just for fetching but also for chewing. It fairs pretty well on this front too, with reports of it surviving quite a battering from the most destructive of jaws. From a dog owner’s perspective, Chuckit! Ultra Balls are a hit because they’re easy to keep clean and suitable for both land and water, making them a very versatile dog toy.

Owners of very heavy chewers have been disappointed with this product. The seams are weak, giving any persistent dog an entry point for teeth. Really heavy chewers can bite chunks off this ball in no time. There are also reports of the plug that connects the two halves of the ball coming loose and posing a choke/intestinal hazard. A small percentage of reviewers have found this product to be on the heavy side, making it less suitable for smaller dogs.

PROS:

  • Extremely durable
  • Floats
  • Features bright colors to make this ball easily visible
  • Caters to all breeds, as it comes in 5 different sizes
CONS:

  • Seams are weak, offering persistent chewers an entry point for teeth
  • Some reviewers report the plug that connects the two halves of the ball coming loose and posing a choke/intestinal hazard
  • A few buyers noted that this best dog toys made in USA is too heavy for very small breeds

Most helpful dog owners’ review (read the full Amazon review + VIDEO): “These balls have been a big hit with my German Shepherd Dog since the moment they arrived today. My dog hasn’t popped…”

 

2KONG Classic Dog Toy

KONG toys make excellent therapy toys to combat boredom and behavioral issues such as separation anxiety. Stuff it with tasty food or treats and pop it in the freezer overnight and you have the perfect poochy popsicle. Rover will forget that he’s missing you as he spends hours working out how to get at every last morsel. When he drops it to dislodge a treat, he’ll be surprised as it randomly bounces in a different direction every time.

This KONG toy also makes for a fun game of fetch. If your dog prefers chewing to retrieving then the KONG Classic has that covered too. It’s one of the best dog toys made in USA, as it’s formulated with puncture-resistant rubber. There are very few toys that can match its durability.

The KONG Classic is available in X-small, small, medium, large, X-large and XX-large.  For very heavy chewers it’s advisable to opt for the larger KONG Extreme. Dog owners, vets and dog trainers widely report that the KONG Classic is a great source of stimulation for dogs. Many have used the KONG Classic Dog Toy successfully as a therapeutic tool for overcoming difficult behaviors that arise from boredom and separation anxiety.

Whilst the majority of dogs go mad for a stuffed KONG, some dogs are put off but it’s rubbery smell. It’s not the easiest thing to clean either. Some owners question how hygienic this product is after a number of uses. Owners of very heavy chewers have also found that this KONG toy can be destroyed in minutes.

PROS:

  • Known for its durability
  • Made of puncture-resistant rubber
  • Can be stuffed with food or treats to keep your pet entertained while you’re away
  • Bounces erratically to make for an extra-fun game of fetch
  • Available in 6 sizes
 CONS:

  • Some dogs did not like the rubbery smell of this toy
  • Buyers note that this is one of the best dog toys made in USA, but complain that it is difficult to clean
  • Multiple reviewers have said that aggressive chewers are able to destroy this toy in minutes

Most helpful dog owners’ review (read the full Amazon review + PHOTO): “My 85 lb German Shepherd loves this XL Kong. I learned not to use the Kong brand treats with it though, as they fell out…”

 

3Benebone Bacon Flavored Wishbone Chew Toy

Dogs go crazy for the 100% bacon flavoring in this nylon Benebone chew toy. Its patented wishbone shape allows your furry friend to pop one end of the bone up for an easier chew experience. Deep grooves provide a good bite.

You’ll be helping other dogs to have a better life when you buy this product too. Benebone supports canine welfare, with a particular focus on dog shelters across the USA.

Owners who have bought this product have been impressed that dogs seem to go mad for the flavor, yet it has no scent to the human nose. Unlike edible flavored bones, the Benebone Bacon Flavored Wishbone Chew Toy doesn’t leave residue on carpet either. Many owners have said that this is their dog’s ‘go to’ toy that occupies them for hours.

Owners of very heavy chewers have deemed the Benebone unsuitable for their dogs. Some report that large pieces break off, posing a potential choke or intestinal hazard. Others have found that the toy ‘roughs up’, causing gums to bleed. There have also been cases of dogs chipping and breaking teeth when chewing a Benebone.

PROS:

  • 100% bacon flavoring to entice your pup
  • Patented wishbone shape allows the dog to pop one end of the bone up for an easier chew experience
  • No scent to the human nose unlike other odorous dog chews
  • Unlike other edible bones and chews, this is one of the best dog toys made in USA because it does not leave residue on carpets and furniture
CONS:

  • Many reviewers say this product is not suitable for heavy chewers
  • Some report that large pieces break off, posing a potential choke or intestinal hazard
  • There have been cases of dogs chipping and breaking teeth when chewing a Benebone

Most helpful dog owners’ review (read the full Amazon review): “This started off great! Our 8 month old GSP/hound rescue took to this right away. Luckily I supervised him while he used it…”

 

4KONG Extreme Rubber Ball

The KONG Extreme Rubber Ball is the ultimate bouncy ball for dogs that like to play hard. Made from puncture-resistant rubber, KONG claims that this ball is more durable than any other on the market. This heavy-duty ball has an extreme bounce and is designed for outdoor use.

The Extreme Rubber Ball is available in two sizes – small (2.5”) and medium/large (3”). If you decide to buy these best dog toys made in USA, you can choose from one or two-pack options.

The majority of reviewers rate the KONG Extreme Rubber Ball as the best dog play ball available. Dogs that have destroyed all other balls have had a hard time shredding this one. Some owners put this down to the shape and size of the ball causing the dog to salivate – the dog can’t get enough purchase to bite down with full force.

Reviewers only really have one consistent issue with the KONG Extreme Rubber Ball – it’s not quite extreme enough. It may be the most durable option on the market but it’s definitely not indestructible. There are numerous reports of power chewers getting through this in minutes ­– owners would be wise to stick to fetch games with this toy.

PROS:

  • This is one of the best dog toys made in USA, as it is made from puncture-resistant rubber
  • Extreme bounce that is intended for outdoor use
  • Available in 2.5- and 3-inch sizes
CONS:

  • Dog owners who purchased these best dog toys made in USA had one consistent complaint – they are not indestructible. Power chewers have been able to rip these balls apart.

Most helpful dog owners’ review (read the full Amazon review + PHOTO): “Purchased for a 2-1/2 year old Pit / American Bulldog. She’s played with this, non-stop, for the past week. When she’s tired, she…”

 

5Duke’s Digs Tug of War Dog Chew Toy

This is an interactive rope toy with a difference – it’s made from 100% quality fleece. Unlike most tug ropes on the market this one from Duke’s Digs won’t fray. It’s gentle on puppy’s teeth and your hands, making it great for teething, whitening teeth and promoting general dental health. It’s soft enough to be a comforter too.

This Tug of War Dog Chew makes an excellent choice of durable toy for interactive bonding and training. It is made from recycled bottles and is non-toxic. It can be machine-washed and tumble dried for easy care. In fact, each wash actually strengthens the fabric of the Duke’s Digs Tug of War Dog Chew Toy!

With its different shapes and textures, the Tug of War Chew has been a hit with many puppies. The majority of reviewers found it to be very hard wearing too, favoring it over traditional rope toys that fray quickly.

Owners of power chewers didn’t rate this product highly. There are reports of dogs chewing through the rope in minutes, particularly the knot. However, as you can see, this is a common complaint with all the best dog chew toys made in USA.

PROS:

  • Made from 100% quality fleece constructed from recycled bottles
  • Non-toxic
  • Won’t fray like most other tug toys on the market
  • Gentle on dog’s teeth and your hands
  • Machine washable and can be tumble dried
CONS:

  • Owners of power chewers did not rate this product highly

Most helpful review (read the full Amazon review): “I have a service dog. We looked high and low for knotted tugs to be attached to doors, cabinets, refrigerator, etc. so my service dog could open…”


Disclosure: We may earn affiliate commissions at no cost to you from the links on this page. This did not affect our assessment of products. Read more here and find full disclosure here.

Mike Pompeo’s Pic Of Dog With Winnie the Pooh Toy Seen As Attempt To Troll China

A picture shared by Mike Pompeo on Twitter.

America’s top diplomat Mike Pompeo assails China nearly daily, but he says his dog isn’t part of his campaign.

Pompeo raised eyebrows among students of social media tea leaves when he posted a picture of his dog looking ready to tear into a toy Winnie the Pooh.

“Mercer and all of her favorite toys!” the canine-loving secretary of state tweeted from his personal account.

Mercer and all of her favorite toys! ???? pic.twitter.com/bGal0ui6E2

— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) July 15, 2020

Chinese social media users have frequently used the jolly bear as a meme for President Xi Jinping, although the country’s thorough censors have little sense of humor about it.

Asked in an interview Wednesday whether this was “Winnie the Pooh-gate,” Pompeo appeared oblivious.

“No, I imagine there were a series of stuffed animals, and they were equally distributed for Mercer’s benefit,” Pompeo told Iowa conservative radio host Simon Conway.

When told that the BBC had run a story musing about a deeper meaning, Pompeo laughed and said, “I hadn’t seen that.”

AA Milne’s loveable but slow-witted bear with a weakness for honey picked up as a meme after pictures of Xi alongside slender former US president Barack Obama, who drew comparisons to Winnie’s friend Tigger, were published.

China has since sought to scrub the meme from the internet accessible inside the country, and Beijing in 2018 rejected the release of the Disney film “Christopher Robin,” which stars Winnie.

Pompeo has championed a hard line against China, criticizing the communist leadership for denying free expression, clamping down in Hong Kong and failing to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Are Your Dog’s Toys Poisoning Him?

Could your dog’s favorite toy actually be poisoning him? If your dog loves plastic, rubbery toys, it’s not so far-fetched.

According to a presentation by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference, many of the plastic and rubbery toys and fetching batons that our dogs chew on and play with every day, contain dangerous chemicals that may be harmful to their health.

Plastic and rubbery dog toys like this chew bone, may contain dangerous levels of poisonous chemicals.

You’ve no doubt read the warning labels or seen children’s toys and sippy cups advertising that they are now “BPA Free.” BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical added to plastic and vinyl to give it elasticity. Recent studies have shown that this chemical, which had previously been widely used in plastic and vinyl products ranging from cups and dinner plates, to toys and storage bins, acts as endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen or act as anti-androgens when leached into the human body.

These recent studies and warnings regarding chemicals used in plastic and their danger to humans caught the attention of The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, who decided to research the same chemicals and their potential danger in dog toys.

According to Discovery News, Phil Smith and Kimberly Wooten of Texas Tech University co-authored the study. Phil Smith, who raises, trains, and hunts with his Labrador Retrievers, was especially concerned with the fetching batons, or “bumpers,” that are commonly, and heavily, used during training, and plastic and rubber toys that many dogs play with every day, including chew-bones that are given to dogs as a supposed safe alternative to chewing real bones and foreign objects during teething.

To test for the chemicals, the researchers created simulated dog saliva, then simulated chewing by squeezing purchased bumpers and dog toys with stainless steel salad tongs. Some bumpers and toys were also weathered outside to determine if older toys gave off more chemicals.

“We found that the aging or weathering the toys increased concentrations of BPA and phthalates,” Smith explained. “The toys had lower concentrations of phthalates than the bumpers, so that’s good news. But they also had some other chemicals that mimicked estrogen. We need to find out what those are.”

Wooten explained that BPA and phthalates can have effects on developing fetuses and can have a lifelong effect on offspring of lab animals. Studies on humans have resulted in mixed conclusions, but concern was enough to warrant the U.S. government banning the use of BPA in baby bottles this year.

Many more studies have yet to be conducted, especially regarding the safety of these rubber and plastic toys and the chemicals that are leached into our dogs’ bodies. However, Smith and Wooten’s research indicated that levels of BPA and phthalates contained within dog toys are higher than those normally found in children’s toys.

Luckily, since the discovery of the negative effects of BPA on children, some dog toy manufacturers have already started a trend of manufacturing BPA Free dog toys. Some safe bets in you’re looking to buy dog toys free of these potentially harmful chemicals are Planet Dog, West Paw Design, and Jolly Pets.

For the safety of your pets, look for products that are “BPA Free” or made in the US from 100% natural rubber. If you know of a brand that provides these types of safe dog toys and fetching batons, please share with our readers in a comment below.

Super Durable Microfiber Dog Toy Monkey Miguel,

In Mighty dog ​​toys, we reimagined durability and applied it from a new angle.
The durability of each toy is achieved by several layers of flexible material that moves with the dog’s teeth instead of tearing.

High durability and quality
Each toy is created using high quality materials to ensure the highest degree of durability.

Multiple rows of stitching
The most vulnerable areas are covered and stitched with an additional layer of material that covers the originally stitched edges.This additional coating creates additional layers of stitching to keep the edges together.

Long lasting seams
All seams are inside the toy to discourage chewing. Vulnerable seams are additionally sewn with flexible material along the edges of the seam.

2 layers of material
Each toy consists of an outer layer of plush and a layer of durable fleece underneath. It is this fleece lining that makes the toy so durable. The fleece layer holds the body of the toy together during tug games, for example.

Up to 4 rows of stitching
All fabric seams have multiple rows of stitching, are covered with a layer of soft, elastic fabric and sewn together with additional rows of stitches, creating a soft and durable toy without hard edges!

Up to two layers of fabric
Top layer consists of tightly woven sherpa fleece, resulting in softness and durability at the same time.
The inner layer is made of tightly woven hard fleece for maximum density and durability.

Safety first!
Our toys are “Designed to Last”, but keep in mind that no toy will last forever. Toys are designed to play and interact, not to be gnawed or chewed by the dog. No part of the toy should be swallowed by the dog!

Dog toys are designed for you and your pet to enjoy together. Never let your dog play unattended. Be responsible and always be there when your dog is playing with a toy.

Small toys are intended for dogs up to 5 kg.

REMOVING PIECES
Over time, your dog may wear out individual layers of the toy, loosen or remove pieces. This is fine. Remove flaps to avoid swallowing. If your pet gets to the white stuffing of the toy, throw it away immediately!

All tweeters are additionally placed in a special pocket, which will give you extra time to remove it if the dog does get to the center of the toy.

Radio-controlled interactive dog (for girls, music)

Interactive dog for girls – this cute musical dog will become your child’s best friend. She knows how to ride, dance cheerfully and will certainly delight her master. Includes battery, remote control, USB charge.

Main features of the toy:

Robot height – 26 cm.

Type: dog – robot

Moves forward, backward, turn left, right.

Dances 4 different dances to the built-in music

Command voice – starts barking

Sensor on the head – you can pet and please the dog

Live facial expressions of eyes

Battery and charger included

The remote control requires 2 AA batteries (not included)

Specifications:

Model type Robot, Dog

Robot type Intelligent robot

Age 6+

Operating environment Indoor, Apartment

Model functions Light and sound effects

Model controllability Remote control

Model length 18 cm

Model height 26 cm

Model width 15 cm

Light / Sound Effects Yes

Equipment type IR

Remote control radius 10 m

Control panel power supply 2 pcs 1.5V AA

Battery type Li-Po

Battery voltage, V 3.7

Battery capacity, mAh 600

Battery charging time, min from 240 to 360

Operating time without recharging 15 to 20 min

Le Neng Toys Brand

Country China

White

Box length 33 cm

Box height 25 cm

Box width 30 cm

Weight with packaging 2 kg

Watch the video of this toy or model

Features of the choice of toys for dogs and puppies of small and large breeds

A domestic dog is a full-fledged member of the family who needs not only quality food, attention and care, but also good toys for entertainment and general development.In the article we will consider why dogs need toys, what to look for when choosing them, what are the varieties of toys for dogs and puppies of different breeds, types of toys for their intended purpose, the top 10 most interesting and useful dog toys.

Why do dogs need toys

A dog in the house is a devoted friend who will always enjoy the attention of the owner and be bored during his absence. It is at such moments that domestic dogs often spoil various household things or whine loudly, creating discomfort for the neighbors in the apartment.To keep your dog from getting bored alone, buy special toys for it!

Toys not only help to keep the dog occupied during the absence of the owner, but also contribute to the physical and mental development of animals. They can be used in the process of active games in nature when walking the dog. There are many options for playing with your dog and toys. For example, the owner can throw a ball or disc at a distance, the dog will catch it or run after this object and, grabbing it in the mouth, return it back to the owner.This game perfectly develops endurance, reaction speed and agility.

Dogs love to bite and gnaw toys, which will also benefit them, since when biting hard objects, the gums and jaws are strengthened, the correct bite is formed, and plaque from the tooth enamel is eliminated.

And in the assortment of toys for pets there are a lot of developmental products that do not require physical activity, but at the same time well develop the mental activity of the dog.

Thus, toys for a dog are not only fun, but also an undeniable benefit for the physical and intellectual development of a pet.

What is important to consider when choosing a toy for a pet

You need to choose a toy for a dog according to different parameters. It is a mistake to make a purchase, focusing only on the attractiveness of the product.

Pet toy selection parameters:

1. Toys must be made of safe and non-toxic materials.
2. The product must not emit an unpleasant chemical odor.
3. Quality of execution. The toy should have an ideal shape, smooth joints.
4. There should be no small parts on the toy that are unsafe for the animal. If the toy has additional parts (for example, a buzzer), make sure that it is well fixed.
5. Cloth toys must have strong seams.

When choosing a toy for a pet, it is also recommended to take into account the character and preferences of the dog. For example, if your dog loves to chew on slippers and other things around the house, get him a sturdy rubber toy to chew on.For energetic dogs, toys for active outdoor play are great.

If the puppy has recently appeared in the house and the owner has not yet determined the preferences and temperament of a new friend, you can buy several toys that can diversify the pet’s leisure time. In the future, this will help to understand which toys are most interesting to her.

Types of toys for dogs depending on age and breed

When choosing a toy for a dog, the age and breed of the animal is taken into account. Consider which toys are suitable for different dogs.

Toys for puppies

Small puppies get miniature toys. Toddlers love to play with soft and squeaky toys. They will also benefit from high-quality rubber and silicone products, which are necessary for chewing during tooth growth.

For large dogs

Large breed dogs need to buy toys by size. The product should not be small, as the dog may accidentally swallow it during the game.

Such representatives, first of all, need toys to keep fit.You can pick up interesting accessories for training and active outdoor games. If a big dog loves to chew on the owner’s slippers, pick up a rubber chew toy for him, but only of special strength.

For small dogs

Different types of toys are purchased for small decorative breeds, the main thing is that they are small and fit in the pet’s mouth.

What kinds of dog toys are there for the intended purpose?

Pet stores offer a huge selection of toys for pets.All of them are divided into several categories according to their purpose: training, developmental, for active games, etc. Let’s consider in more detail.

Educational

Educational toys are interactive products designed to develop intelligence, reaction speed, intelligence, attention, perseverance and other useful skills. Such toys make the pet take some action, showing ingenuity.

For active games

Outdoor toys are perfect for active games in the fresh air – balls, discs, rubber rings, pullers, etc.e. Designed for joint games between the owner and the dog. These toys contribute to the development of physical fitness, activity, reaction speed, hunting skills. Especially recommended for large breeds.

With treat

If your dog is prone to overeating, be sure to get a special toy with a treat for him. These are products from the interactive group, which involve the game of ingenuity and dexterity. A pet’s favorite treat is placed in a toy of a special shape, but it is not easy to get it, for this you need to show ingenuity and perseverance.Such toys are very helpful when you need to leave the dog alone in the house for a certain time and distract it so that it does not get bored while waiting for the owner.

With braces

Dogs from one and a half years old can buy toys with braces that strengthen their teeth and chewing muscles. This category includes special tug ropes that provide a good grip on the teeth in dogs.

Chewing

Chewing toys are bought for puppies during the period when milk teeth are replaced with permanent ones.They are made from rubber, latex and other “chewable” materials. They are made in the form of various figures, bones, animals, etc. When choosing such a toy, be sure to consider the quality of the material.

Chewing toys are a kind of stress therapy. They can also be purchased for adult dogs that love to chew on something in the absence of the owner.

Particularly durable

Dogs, keen on the gameplay, often spoil their toys. Owners of large breed dogs especially face this problem.Experts do not recommend reusing a damaged toy. Such products should be disposed of immediately, as they are considered unsafe for the pet.

If your dog often tears and spoils toys, buy high-strength products for him from trusted manufacturers. Such products are made of dense and rigid materials that can withstand severe chewing stress.

For training

Breeders recommend using special toys for dog training, which allow you to train your pet in various commands in a short time, and at the same time develop their physical and mental abilities in the process of exciting games.

Training toys:

balls;
disc for playing frisbee;
training shells;
rings;
· grappling sticks, etc.

Top 10 best toys for dogs and puppies

Based on the feedback from professional breeders and dog owners, we have compiled the top 10 best toys for pets of different ages and breeds.

Top-10:

1. Balls are the most popular toy for energetic dogs, perfect for training and training.
2. Toy-bone. This toy can be used in active outdoor games. It will also distract a bored, lonely pet waiting for a loved one.
3. Toys made of rubber and other natural materials. The dog can bite and chew them safely.
4. Flying discs for frisbee. Used in training.
5.

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