Chew toys are a fun and healthy stress reliever for dogs. Many pet owners introduce puppies to chew toys to keep them stimulated and protect their furniture. They keep the dog busy, promote oral health and provide mental stimulation, but not all toys are safe for dogs. In fact, the government does not regulate what goes into dog toys. As a result, many harmful dog chew toys are on the market, and it is up to the pet owner to find out which chew toys are safe for dogs. In this article, we will cover the cancer-causing chemicals found in dog chew toys, what they are found in, and what you can do about it.

What are the chemicals present in dog toys?

Formaldehyde – Often found in rawhide, this chemical is mainly used as a preservative in dog chew treats. Manufacturers coat their dog toys with this chemical to make them more durable. It can thus be easily absorbed through the skin, inhaled through the nose, or ingested as the dog chews away. Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde is harmful to dogs as it can result in nasal tumors, leukemia, and other cancers. So, the question is rawhide good for dogs is answered as a definate no. Add rawhide and any others that have this toxic chemical to the toxic dog toys list.

Lead – This toxin makes its way to dog toys most commonly through the paint on the outer layer of the dog toy. Constant exposure may result in lead poisoning which in turn causes serious neurological problems in canines. Additionally, affected dogs will suffer symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, tremors, and blindness. Puppies are most susceptible to lead poisoning. If you are looking for safe chew toys for puppies and older dogs, skip the painted ones.

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BPA – Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical commonly used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Many plastic products used by humans mention that they have no BPA as it is a banned substance for human products, mainly baby bottles and plastic water bottles. However, it remains unregulated in the pet toy manufacturing industry. Prolonged exposure may lead to hormone disruption and cancer.

Chlorine (PVC) – also known as vinyl, PVC is a naturally hard plastic that can be found in some dog toys. Manufacturers add other compounds such as phthalates to soften it so that dogs can chew on the toys. As the toy starts to tear, it releases chlorine which can be ingested by the dog. With time, such exposure to chlorine may result in immune system failure and cancer.

The answer to the question, are plastic dog toys safe? No.  Additional dangers can be the paint on these types of dog chew toys and if they tear it into small pieces and eat a piece that could require surgery to remove.

Phthalates – as mentioned above, these ‘plasticizers’ are used to soften PVC so as to make it chewable. Unfortunately, these complex compounds are thought to negatively impact a dog’s reproductive system. They may also affect the dog’s gums and skin. The types of dog chew toys that contain phthalates should be put on the unsafe dog toys list.

Chromium – in trace amounts, chromium is an essential mineral in a dog’s diet. It can be prescribed as an insulin supplement for dogs because chromium deficiency may cause symptoms similar to diabetes. In larger amounts, though, chromium becomes toxic to dogs. Prolonged exposure negatively impacts the dog’s liver, kidneys, and immune system. It may also cause cancer.

Cadmium – this chemical is found in the dye of certain plastics used to make dog chew toys. Dogs need calcium for healthy joints and kidneys. Exposure to large amounts of cadmium disrupts the dog’s calcium metabolism, resulting in a deficiency that negatively impacts the joints and kidneys. Cadmium has also been shown to cause lung tumors and leukemia when ingested by dogs.  Again this points to plastic dogs toys being unsafe in the long term, but why take that chance?

How do these chemicals get into dog toys?

Most toxic chemicals get into dog toys during the manufacturing process. There are no regulations regarding the manufacturing of dog toys, which means manufacturers can put pretty much anything in their products. Some manufacturers take advantage of this and opt for the cheapest materials to produce low-quality dog chew toys. Such poor quality control results in toxic dog toys making it to the market and affecting dogs all over the country.

Some manufacturers try to enhance the durability of their products by adding too many preservatives or glue. Unfortunately, most of the chemicals used for this purpose are also known carcinogens and therefore are harmful to dogs. Additionally, the material used for the toy itself may cause harm, as is the case with plastic and rubber toys.

How to avoid cancer-causing toxins in dog toys

It is up to pet owners to figure out what toys are safe for their dogs. A good place to start is the FDA’s list of recalled or withdrawn products as it can inform you about some flagged brands. Next, you may also conduct a Healthy Stuff Product Search to see whether the chew toy you want to purchase is safe for your pet. Finally, ask the manufacturer about their processes and quality control systems. If a toy is produced in a factory that has lead, for example, it is likely to contain trace amounts and may therefore be harmful to your dog.

Some companies make an extra effort to ensure their toys are actually safe dog toys. They often have to invest in higher quality materials for their products, as well as adhere to rigorous testing and quality control measures that ensure the product has no toxic chemicals. This obviously affects the price of the finished product, but when weighed against the vet bills that are sure to come from exposing your dog to the toxins in cheaper alternatives, we think the investment is well worth it. We hope to see more regulations on dog toys in the near future, but until then, keep a watchful eye on what your dog plays with. We hope this article helps you to do just that.

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