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Are Your Pet’s Toys Toxic?

Pet Toys

Story at-a-glance -

  • According to the results of a recent study, certain types of toys can be toxic to your pet.
  • Study authors evaluated certain dog toys for the presence of BPA and phthalates – chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors with the potential to harm your pet’s health.
  • “Bumpers” – those fetching batons used to teach dogs how to retrieve – are major culprits. So are toys that are older or weathered.
  • It’s possible to find safer toys for your pets. Look for products that are “BPA free” or made in the U.S. from 100 percent natural rubber.

By Dr. Becker

According to the results of a study presented at a Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference in California last month, certain types of toys can be toxic to your pet.

Do Dog Toys Contain Toxins That Can Enter Your Pet’s Body?

Philip Smith, co-author of the study and an associate professor at Texas Tech University, also raises, trains and hunts with Labrador Retrievers.

Smith and his colleague, Kimberly Wooten, suspected that certain types of toys, including “bumpers” or fetching batons that are used to teach dogs to retrieve, might contain toxins that could leak into the mouths and bodies of dogs.

In a press release Smith explained that:

"In the process of training a lab, you do a lot of work with these plastic bumpers. I have a lot of bumpers in my garage, and they spend a lot of time in the mouths of my retrievers. Well, lots of attention has been given to chemicals in plastics lately regarding their effects on humans. Since we all care about our dogs, and we want them to be as healthy and smart and well-behaved as possible, we decided to look into this."

Chemicals called phthalates as well as bisphenol A (BPA) are used in plastics manufacturing to provide elasticity to products. These substances are known endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen or act as anti-androgens.

Watch Out for Aging, Weathered Toys

The study involved creating “faux” dog saliva and also simulated chewing action. The chewing was accomplished by squeezing the toys with salad tongs. Some of the toys were also left outside in the elements to see if older toys leached more chemicals.

“We found that aging or weathering the toys increased concentrations of BPA and phthalates,” Smith said. “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.”

According to Wooten, BPA and phthalates can impact a developing fetus and have lifelong effects on the offspring of lab animals. And the U.S. government banned the use of BPA in baby bottles last year.

"The interaction of pet health and environmental chemicals is understudied," Wooten said. "What may be a safe dose for one species isn't always a good measure for another species. But the amount of BPA and phthalates we found from the bumpers would be considered on the high end of what you might find in children's toys."

Finding Safer Toys for Your Pet

Look for toys labeled “BPA Free” or made in the U.S. from 100 percent natural rubber. Some manufacturers to check out:

Please note: I’m not endorsing any particular product... it just happens that one of the companies in the above list, West Paw Design, has lots of YouTube videos of dogs playing with their non-toxic toys.

Click here to find out Dr. Becker's 20 Pet Tips for a Healthy 2020Click here to find out Dr. Becker's 20 Pet Tips for a Healthy 2020