Your dog’s toy might be killing him. Sadly, we live in a world where realities like this are all too true. It is the job of this blog to inform, educate, enlighten, and bring to focus the alternative lifestyles of dog parenting that are becoming the new norm. Some dog toys are lethal weapons. Armed with these facts, you can help save your own dog’s life and those of your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Do you the seven deadly danger of dog toys?
The ph word that’s hard to say but easy to kill dogs.
Phthalates sounds like something Bugs Bunny might utter to Elmer Fudd, but there’s nothing funny about it. Phthalates give a product a “vinyl” smell. According to an article published by Whole Dog Journal, if a vinyl product smell lasts with time, the amount of phthalates it contains is really high. Many dog toys used phthalates in their manufacture. The article is quick to point out that not all phthalates have been studied to determine the danger and degree, if any, of toxicit. Six of the types most commonly found in vinyl are identified.
Phthalates are dangerous to the liver, kidneys, and integrity of cell structures in general. Dogs can’t flip a toy in the air with their paws (well, trick dogs can), so what do dogs most often do to engage in play? Like babies, toys go into a dog’s mouth. Dogs who do the following are at risk for absorbing phthalates from vinyl:
Chewing: Anyone have a dog who chews a toy?
Saliva: Anyone have a dog who gets saliva on a toy?
Body heat: Anyone have a dog who breathes on a toy?
Digestive: Anyone have a dog who bites off pieces of toys?
Inhaling: Anyone have a dog who smells a toy?
Skin contact: Anyone have a dog who sleeps with or nuzzles with a toy?
I don’t give my dog vinyl chew toys for these and a host of other reasons.
Where is Vinyl Found?
Check the label of a dog chew toy for any semblance of vinyl. Vinyl can be found in other dog products like leashes, collars, carriers, bedding, flooring, common house dust (so keep your place clean), car dashboards, and many types of strollers and clothing.
What Can You Do?
Avoid purchasing and using products with vinyl.
Dogs of any size can swallow a ball, a toy, a treat, or any other number of household objects. We avoid any balls, toys, or treats smaller than a tennis ball due to the size of our dog’s mouth. Other dogs have been known to choke on sticks and even swallow them.
The Scary Truth
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dog toys. The Consumer Product Safety Commission only regulates pet toys if consumers are at risk. Dogs are left to fend for themselves. That whole hierarchy thing sucks for dogs according to the FDA and CPSC standards.
What About Made in the United States Toys?
In an alarming article published by Bark Magazine online, USA-made does not necessarily make dog toys safe. There are things savvy dog parents can do to protect their dog. Here are seven deadly dangers of dog toys and what you need to know to save your dog from harm or worse:
Remember that toys are targeted at the pet parent, not the pet. If you think it’s cute, cool, or it appeals to you, these are the marketing tactics big companies use. I fall for this, too, and there’s nothing wrong with that IF you know what to watch for in terms of toy structure and material.
Find toys that do not easily fit into the back of your dogs mouth where he or she can chew with his molars. If your dog is a power chewer, proceed with caution and scrutiny on what you allow him to chew.
Take a cue from your dog and sniff first. If you smell chemicals or anything outside of the ordinary, move on. Bright colors get that way due to dyes and they may come off when licked/wet. Toys that have stain guard or are dubbed “fire retardant” should be avoid since they probably contain a host of chemicals including formaldehyde.
If a company has gone the extra mile with their manufacturing processes and materials used, the label will say so. That quote about “people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing” is so true in this case. If the company is transparent, they will be more than happy to shout about it on the toy label or packaging.
Avoid toys with a single air hole. Those images floating around of dogs with their tongues stuck in a ball are oh so frightening. A single air hole can act as a deadly suction trap.
Just say no to vinyl… no matter how cute the toy is.
Rope toys might seem safe but dogs can easily pull pieces off and swallow them. I’ve interviewed several veterinarians who tell me rope toy shards had to be surgically removed from a dog’s intestines due to blockage. If you use a rope toy, do so carefully, with supervision, and never allow the dog to chew on it outside your line of vision.
Used appropriately and with your supervision, dog toys can be a fun way to enhance a dog’s relationship with you. There is no substitute for one-on-one time between dog and dog parent, so why not forego the toy and head to the park, for a walk, or for some fun in-house play.
NEVER leave unsafe busy toys with a dog in your absence.
If toys are your thing, do your research and remember that Fido has no idea the toy is cute and in your favorite color: He just wants to shake it, rip it, and spend time playing with you. Happy and safe playing!
QUESTION: Do you use caution before allowing your dog to play with a toy?