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How do I know if my Dog's Toy is Toxic or Unsafe?

Toys are more than just a thing to play with when it comes to dogs. They need toys for exercise, brain stimulation, bonding with others and of course dental health. But how do I know the toy I've bought is safe for my dog?

Think about the size of your dog when buying a Toy

Before you put the toy in your basket, ask yourself if this toy is the appropriate size for your dog. If the toy is too small, your dog may accidentally swallow it or parts of it when enjoying the fun that comes with playtime. Equally, you should always supervise playtime with a squeaky toy as many dogs feel they must destroy the toy to find the squeaker which can result in a serious choking hazard. 

If a toy has one entry hole such as a 'Hidden Treat' dog toy, there is a worry that they can cause a vacuum around a pet's face. This vacuum can cause swelling or even a risk of choking if lodged within a dog's mouth. As mentioned above, think of your dog's size when buying a toy, if it can get into their mouth there's a possibility it can get stuck behind their teeth. If a toy is being used in 'fast-play' such as a tennis ball, make sure that the ball itself is too big to get lodged within their mouth such as a football instead. 

Rubber or plastic toys such as chews, pullies and fetching toys carry an additional risk of being made with harmful toxic materials and additives such as bisphenol A - also known as BPA - which is an additive used with plastics and vinyls to make them elastic. 

Can I give my pet Children's Toys?

Yes you can. If you're thinking about giving your dog a children's toy - such as a teddy bear - you should adapt the toy before giving it to your pet so that it has no labels, plastic eyes, tags etc, this will lessen the likelihood of your pet swallowing a foreign object. 

When the toys starts to break down or shows signs of significant wear, swap it out for a new one as the insides are not digestible and toys aimed at children are not designed to be roughly played with. That being said, these toys do have to follow certain rules and regulations to be marketed at children so are less likely to be toxic or have dangerous chemicals used within the making process. 

Are there any Rules or Regulations for Dog Toys?

As of yet no. Unlike children's toys, pet toys have no strict rules or regulations as to what materials can and can't go into making a toy. But what if a child gets a hold of my dog's toy? Here is where you may have a problem on your hands. When possible, always be aware of where your pet's toy or chew has come from, especially when shipped from overseas. If you are able to, look into the company's history, have they been flagged for contaminated products in the past? Do they import from overseas? It's always worth taking time to read comments and reviews of a product before you buy even if it means looking on another site. 

How will I know if a Pet Toy has potential toxins? 

Here are three database sites which have a long list of pet-related products - including food, toys and care products that have been recalled or withdrawn from the market due to toxic levels of harmful substances:

How can my Dog come into contact with these Toxins?

Your dog can come into contact with such toxic chemicals if they lick, chew or ingest parts of a toxic object. Last year these chemicals were also found in raw materials used to package pet food - among the list of products recalled were Sheba, Hills, Iams and Pedigree Choice - as well as other ingestible products like Rawhide. 

How do I know if my Pet has come into contact with a Toxic Substance?

If your pet has been acting strangely or becomes ill shortly after playing with a toy or eating something, take them and the suspected toxic item to the Vet for testing. Online advice is to attempt to contact the product manufacture or stockist companies for information. However, the likelihood of a response is very low. 

How do I know if my dog has a Bowel Obstruction? 

Bowel obstructions can be caused by ingesting foreign objects such as chipped toys, bones, dog chews and sticks. But how can I prevent this? Keep a close eye when your dog is playing or eating a treat, limit their time with bones and sticks. 

Common Symptoms of Bowel Obstructions within Dogs include: 

- Vomiting
- Dehydration
- Diarrhea
- Body Weakness
- Loss in appetite
- Bloating 

How to test if my dog's toy is Toxic

Sadly there isn't exactly a 'home test' that you can do to analyze a suspected toxic product that your pet might come into contact with. With the yearly growth in the pet industry this is becoming an alarming cause for concern. As mentioned previously there are online databases such as where you can search for everyday products - from pet food to car seats to Christmas decorations - that contain toxins. These studies by Healthy Stuff date back to as far as 2007 looking for hazards toxins such as: 

PVC, Phthalates, BPA, Lead, Chromium, Melamine, Arsenic, Bromine, Formaldehyde. 


Should I be giving my Dog Rawhide? 

Rawhide has been the topic of conversation recently, especially around the holidays where fun and brightly shaped Christmas themed gifts are in the shops, but don't add it to your basket just yet! 

If you've been thinking of giving your dog rawhide as a treat they should ALWAYS be supervised when chewing as the structure of the chew can cause sharp points when shattered. These sharp ends can get stuck in a pet's throat or intestine causing bowel obstructions and discomfort to the pet. 

NEVER give your dog rawhide that has been dyed or shaped in a way that you cannot see how it's been stuck together. Cheap rawhide that has been forced into shapes and dyed brightly colored - such as a twisted candy-cane as a treat for Christmas - has been made this way with chemical dyes and adhesive glues that are certainly harmful and more than likely very toxic towards your dog. 

If you are thinking of purchasing some rawhide for your dog to chew on, check with your vet for an appropriate place to purchase it. 

However, it is also worth mentioning that rawhide is a by-product of International Fur Trade (Read more here...)  and there are healthier and more humane options available such as rubber chew toys. 


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