It’s unfortunate to hear but just as the pet food industry has minimal and inadequate regulation, the pet toy industry has even less regulation. Since 2009 the U.S. has enforced legal regulations on toxic components and heavy metals in and on children’s toys. However, pet toy manufacturers are not obliged to abide by these same standards. Children and pets are at an increased risk for negative reactions to these toxins due to their propensity to put objects in their mouths. Chemicals commonly found in pet toys have been linked to reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, liver toxicity and cancer in children (pets have never been tested).
Phthalates and Plasticizers –Dioxins, PCBs, DDT, pesticides, phytoestrogens, fungal estrogens, herbicide atrazine, phenols, bisephenol A (BPA) and plasticizers such as phthalates are endocrine disruptors that may interfere with the production, release, transport and metabolism or elimination of the body’s natural hormones. (4) In July of 2014 tests done on exposure to di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP) showed that side effects included a multitude of birth defects, reproductive defects, cancers, central nervous system and neurobehavioral effects as well as liver and kidney problems. (1) The smaller and younger the exposed individual was, the more damage exposure to phthalates would cause. However, pets are not considered in their testing or regulation. The Consumer Council found phthalates at concentrations in pet toys up to 300 times above what U.S. and European Union standards allow. (2) As of February 2009 three phthalates (DINP, DIDP and DnOP) were temporarily restricted (no end date noted) and cannot be used in children’s toys that may be licked, put in the mouth or ingested. Levels in children’s toys concentrations greater than 0.1% are prohibited in toys, bedding, teething devices and child care articles. However, several of the Chinese pet toys that were tested had concentrations of 28-38%. (3)
Lead – In 2007 Chase Laboratories was contracted by WFLD-TV Chicago to test 15 Chinese-made pet products for lead. Tests revealed one brand of tennis ball for dogs contained 27,200ppm of lead. That’s 45 times higher than the Federal Law allows (600ppm) for lead paint in children’s toys, however, there are no regulations for lead and other toxins in pet products. The Laboratory stated, “The toxic materials came off the toys freely with very little effort. Sweat from a hand or a light lick from a dog could have easily removed these levels of toxins.” (4) Tennis balls used for human sport are regulated for lead; however, as high as 50% of tennis balls manufactured for pets were found to contain high levels of Lead. As a matter of fact, 30% of pet collars from China were found to contain greater than 300ppm of lead. (2) That’s like painting your pets’ collars with lead paint.
Cadmium – Cadmium may injure the joints, kidneys and lungs. One line of cloth catnip toys tested positive for a tremendous amount of the toxic metal cadmium. Some toys tested and confirmed to have a “lower level” of cadmium still contained about the amount they’d get from eating one cigarette. (4)
Chromium – Consumer Affairs noted that Chromium was found in some pet toys at levels as high as 334.9 micrograms per kilogram (toxicity in some forms is as low as 0.05mg/L). This can cause damage to the DNA resulting in cancer in the bladder and kidneys, and if it’s inhaled the lungs. (4)
Arsenic – Arsenic is commonly found in Rawhide, Basketballs, Soccer balls and other leather toys for pet use. (5) Mercury is also commonly found in pet toys.
What do I do about this?
- Don’t buy toys from unknown sources. No matter where it’s from make sure that you or someone you trust has seen laboratory reports ensuring safety
- Try to purchase domestic, locally made, or eco-conscious toys
- Pets are considered property and therefore, IF you are able to link these health concerns to a toy no one has broken any law by causing the damage to your “property” but it is of little concern to toy makers because it is unlikely that you’ll make the link to begin with. Until pets are no longer considered property they will continue to get toxic toys full of heavy metals and contaminants. Consider signing one of these PETS ARE NOT PROPERTY petitions: https://www.change.org/p/president-barack-obama-pets-are-not-property-petitioning-for-the-rights-of-animals-to-be-seen-as-living-beings-and-not-as-possessions and/or http://www.thepetitionsite.com/785/819/109/pets-are-not-property-they-should-be-recognized-as-sentient-beings/
Brands of toys (for dogs and cats) that Hero’s Pets recommends the most:
- The Snow Leopard Trust
- American Dog Toy
- Can Toy/ Soda Pup
- From the Field
- Pet Candy
- bECO toys
- Peak Power bamboo ropes