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Choosing Safe Dog Toys
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Eco Friendly Zisc (West Paw Design)

Planet Dog
A “values-based” Maine company that offers a full spectrum of fetching, nontoxic, recyclable U.S.-made toys. Shop by life stage: Everything a pooch could want is here, from stuffed Alphabet Blocks to Slobber Wicks for seniors. The Orbee-Tuff toys, from the TUG, with its mighty “flip-grip” technology, to spongy pastel-hued baby bones, come in a range of strengths; chew on the website’s “Chew-O-Meter” to determine the right ones for your dog.

West Paw Design
This Montana-based company focuses on environmentally friendly production. Its “Zogoflex” is a tough yet flexible proprietary material that utilizes 10 percent post-industrial waste. While that “green” claim may sound as appetizing as “eat your greens,” the toys are recyclable (if returned to the company). Zogoflex is advertised as nontoxic, FDA-compliant and free of “any known sources of lead, cadmium, mercury, latex, natural rubber, phthalates, hormones, Bisphenol A, or asbestos.” The dishwasher-safe Tux has an inner lip for hiding treats, adding another layer of fun and challenge.

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 54: May/Jun 2009
Sheila Pell is a journalist and contributor to The Bark.
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Submitted by Dwight | January 31 2010 |

I'm a graduate of Ashland University with degrees in science and secondary education. One of my former professors, Dr. Weidenhamer, has made national news due to his research of childrens' toys and jewelry and presence of high levels of lead and cadmium contained within them. The biggest dangers occurs when the children have prolonged exposure to the lead and smaller children putting the toys in their mouth. Many of the toys that have shown extremely high levels of lead are ones made overseas (mostly China). Here's a link that about this: (http://personal.ashland.edu/~jweiden/lead.htm) and (http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/2009/09/lead-levels-in-childrens...).

My wife and I rescued a black lab mix dog. He goes through a lot of chew toys. While at the store, I noticed many of the toys we get for our dog also comes from overseas (ie. China). I've even come across some toys that are exactly the same as what's found at children's toy stores.

This got me to thinking. Should pet owners also be concerned of the possibility of lead in their pet toys? Has there been any research of the effects of lead in pets (dogs)? Since dogs tend to do a lot more of putting things in their mouth, chewing, and swallowing small amounts of chewed up plastic, what are the dangers of lead poisoning of our pets?

I've emailed my professor, Dr. Weidenhamer, regarding the testing of pet toys. He stated that some of the soft plastics used in pet toys are also used in physical therapy for people. Due to the large number of children's toys and general public's concern of their children, he doesn't have the time to test the pet toys.

We love our dog. He's an important part of our family. I know many others feel the same way about their dog(s). From going to the store the other day and seeing bottled water for dogs (which personally, I think is over the top), I know many people want the best for their dog...to be happy, healthy, loved, and well cared for. I feel that this is something that should also be looked into. Out of our love, I don't want to be an irresponsible pet owner and get something that could potentially be harmful for our dog. There are days that I believe our dog doesn't have too many IQ points to spare...he can't afford to lose anymore. (just kidding, he is pretty smart) Seriously, I think as a responsible pet owner, we need to speak on their behalf as to the hidden potential dangers of lead contained within pet toys.

So now, whenever we do get him some toys, I check the labels as to where they were made. It's not a guarantee, but hopefully it's a step in the right direction of keeping our beloved dog healthy.

Submitted by Mary | February 4 2010 |

Check out Healthstuff.org They tested pet toys for chemicals, including lead.

Submitted by Caitlyn | September 7 2010 |

I make my dog his own rope toys, I've never seen him go so crazy over a toy before!

www.NerdyDogs.com

Submitted by Becky S | January 22 2011 |

I own a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a breed known to its owners as one of the most aggressive toy chewers in dogdom. I limit my girl's toys almost entirely to lacrosse balls and black Kongs. Lacrosse balls are great: They fit inside Chuck-its, have a great bounce, and last a long time. They come in lots of colors - my favorites are pink and light green. Best of all, they're only a couple of dollars each! Just like Kongs, you have to check for cracks in the rubber and throw them out before they begin to break apart.

Most of my friends with retrievers have switched to lacrosse balls and are very happy with them.

Submitted by Jess | June 23 2014 |

Friends dog choked on a lacrosse ball.

Submitted by Elia | May 2 2011 |

Jawz FTW! my Border Collie has had one for months, and its held daily use in the park. Meteoballs are great too, and the light drives dogs bananas. Braided strings for tug o war we buy often, but they last a couple of weeks in the park.

Submitted by Jeff | November 22 2011 |

I hope that everyone reads this!!! DO NOT USE LACROSSE BALLS TO PLAY FETCH!!! DO NOT!!!!!!!

I just lost my yellow lab.. he choked to death right in front of me. I couldnt get the ball out. I have thrown a lacrosse ball for him 10,000 times.. this time it killed him!

SPREAD THE WORD! NO LACROSSE BALLS

Submitted by Tough Dog Toys ... | March 23 2012 |

As far as the "bright fabrics" are concerned, what kinds of fabrics should we be looking out for here? Is it the type of fabric used or the dye that is used, or a combination of both?

Submitted by annie | August 12 2013 |

Toys should be appropriate for your dog's size and breed. Toys meant for puppies should not be given to adults. Large dogs can easily swallow puppy-sized toys, while puppies can wrap themselves with a large toy and possibly suffocate. In other words, don't give a toy meant for a Chihuahua to a Great Dane, or vice versa.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 28 2012 |

My dog choked and suffocated to death on a Chuck It ball - the orange and blue solid ball. Please protect your dogs from the horrific death my dog suffered and do not use these balls.

Submitted by LS | July 5 2013 |

I'm at the Emergency vet hospital now because of the same thing only our dog was able to clear it from his airway and swallowed it .... Still doesn't look good

Submitted by SHARON27Fletcher | July 27 2012 |

If you realize what rss submission means, you will have to know that it will optimize your website. You're just click away from the rss blog submission service. Choose that and you would have optimized traffic.

Submitted by lalarcdd | December 18 2012 |

My dog choked and suffocated to death on a Chuck It ball - the orange and blue solid ball. Please protect your dogs from the horrific death my dog suffered and do not use these balls.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 18 2012 |

This got me to thinking. Should pet owners also be concerned of the possibility of lead in their pet toys? Has there been any research of the effects of lead in pets (dogs)? Since dogs tend to do a lot more of putting things in their mouth, chewing, and swallowing small amounts of chewed up plastic, what are the dangers of lead poisoning of our pets?

Submitted by Anonymous | March 1 2013 |

The big companies that sell millions of dog tags to people who have to license their dogs are reticent about supplying where there metal tags come from - for good reason - China. Then they say that they "don't think" there is any lead in them - "DON'T THINK"?

Submitted by xXjxlxkXx | December 19 2012 |

I just wanted to make a note that as far as KONG products go, the standard rubber ones are made in the USA, but the new squeaker varieties are MADE IN CHINA!

Submitted by Sharon | May 3 2013 |

The PetStages DurableStick is another made-in-China death trap. It flakes when chewed into what is basically Chinese construction waste - wood pulp and plastic. When my dog got his intestines blocked from the material, PetStages offered $500 in exchange for a gag order and a hold-harmless agreement. Petco and PetSmart have both ignored my case and continue to sell the PetStages Chinese death stick.

Submitted by Deb | May 4 2013 |

What about nylabones.....been using for YEARS pls tell me this is OK!!!!

Submitted by Liz | May 8 2013 |

Sharon, please tell us how you accomplished that with the company! I just spent thousands on my golden retriever's intestinal blockage from a Skineeez toy. A little reading on the internet and a conversation with the surgeon reveal I'm not alone. More of us need to put pressure on these companies! Any details you can share on how you handled the matter with the company would be appreciated, by many of us, I'm sure. It's not just about recouping some of the cost - but about letting these manufacturers know we are paying attention and expect safer products.

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