Dog Toys – the Unregulated Market

dog-with-ball-1The latest report by has highlighted that there is no regulatory control of dog toys (or any pet products) in the United States – I don’t know what the situation is in other countries.

According to a spokesperson from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the FDA does not regulate dog toys, nor are they aware of any Government agency that has such regulatory powers.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can only regulate those pet products that are shown to put consumers at risk.

Why is lack of regulation a concern? Currently the acceptable levels of toxins for dog toys appears to be based on human data.

“If you’re dealing with a teacup-size dog you can’t assume that what’s safe for a 20-pound child is safe for a three- to ten-pound dog” said a spokesperson for ExperTox, the laboratory that recently tested Chinese made dog products for

That’s common sense isn’t it? So why aren’t there guidelines on the acceptable level of toxins in pet products? I think the answers are that nobody has given much thought to it before, it’s too expensive to do the research, and who’s going to raise the question anyway?

Thanks to an Illinois dog owner, who has recently had 24 of her dogs’ Chinese-made toys tested for lead at a laboratory at the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and to tests undertaken by, the issue is now being discussed.

All the toys the Illinois dog owner had tested contained lead levels that were below the State’s acceptable levels for lead paint in children’s toys, and below the limits set by Federal law for lead paint in children’s toys.

However the debate between toxicologists and veterinarians about what is an acceptable level of lead in toys, which arose from the tests, continue – see my post Dog Toys from China – Why We Should Be Worried?

PetSmart (from where some of the Illinois tested toys were purchased) has stated that it regularly tests products for safety and quality – using the federal regulations and standards that are based on what is safe for humans.

PetSmart’s director for external communication goes on to say that the company would not object to having national standards and levels for lead and other toxins in pet toys.

The president of the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association has said that his members – over 900 pet product manufacturers and importers – would welcome such standards too.

So, the pet industry seems to be willing to accept new regulations on acceptable toxin levels in dogs’ toys, but will it happen?

Whether or not the money will be spent at least we’re now aware of the levels of lead and other heavy metals that are being found in dog toys and can make our own decision about what products we give to our dogs to play with.

Click here to read the most recent article.

[tags]dog toys, lead in dog toys, dog toy safety, PetSmart dog toys[/tags]

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  1. Clare – thanks again for a great post, keep the info coming, it’s soooo appreciated.


  2. Thanks for bringing this issue up. I hadn’t really thought about it before. I make and buy a lot of toys for my spoiled Stella and I am going to put a lot more thought into what I get her.

  3. Hi Nanette, thanks for leaving a comment – I don’t think it’s an issue many of us had thought about before. If you’ve got some good tips on making dog toys you’d like to share, please drop me an email and I’ll post them here, or link to a post on your site.

  4. Robert Sachs says:

    Not only should there be regulation of toxins contained within dog toys, but there should be regulatory oversight of the potential of dog toys to cause foreign body obstruction and intestinal laceration with all the possible consequences of the latter including death. I recently had an experience with my 4 month malamute puppy in which she swallowed in front of me a whole regular size digestible nylabone. She was hospitalized and did well, digesting the nylabone on her own without surgery. I was partly at fault thinking that the puppy would not swallow it. Nylabone bones have no guidelines on the outside of their packaging regarding recommended size to buy corelated with weight of dog. These guidelines are found inside the packaging, making the written guidelines probably less effective than if they were on the outside of the packaging. As it turns out, my puppy’s weight was inbetween recommendation for 2 sizes. The only difference was the larger size was 3/4″ longer but the same width. Nylabone, a very well known and trusted manufacturer of dog toys, for whatever reasons, provides critical information for dog safety inside its packaging. The purchaser would then have to return the wrong size to the retailer or else just give the bone to their dog, which I suspect happens most of the time. Beyond the Nylabone issues I have raised, there are hundreds of other dog toys lining the shelves of pet store retailers and through the internet. I am interested in comments. I have some ideas that might be proactive and educational for dog owners and veterinarians.

  5. susan reid says:

    hurriedly bought some dog bones in the grocery store realizing when i got home that they were made in china. they are made by SERGEANTS which i thought was a good american brand. in small print with a staple over it it states they are made in china. going to email them to tell them i am boycotting their products. i think we should all write to these companies and pass on our feelings, actions etc. just dont trust items made in CHINA.

  6. Kathy Satterfield says:

    I recently bought Purina Brand dog litter to house train my little Maltese puppy. She ate some of it as all puppies eat just about anything. I followed the directions. A few days later I had to take her to the vet for throwing up and crying all the time. They took x-rays and found something in her stomach blocking her from being about to pass through her stomach. I was the litter. It had swollen up in her stomach and she could not pass it. A dog of this size will not live long in the shape she was in. They had to run barium through her system to remove. I tested the litter by putting it in a bowl of water for over 24 hours and it did swell up. After it swelled it was real thick and I understood how this became a problem. I contacted Purina to make them aware of this and I felt a Warning label should be on the bag. They said there was nothing toxic in their product so therefore no warning label was needed. I think every dog and puppy owner needs to be aware of this problem. I would like to know if there are any guidelines to this situation. Thank you.

  7. Our darling pomeranian, Kona, nearly died from the toxins in chicken jerky from China. We started our own company, Kona’s Chips, which makes chicken jerky from human grade chicken breast right here in the USA.

    We also now sell safe non-toxic dog toys made in the USA.

    We have a lot of information on our website about how to check your dog treat labels and product warnings:

  8. WARNING: CUZ almost killed my great dane puppy. Please check out the following site:
    On November 22, 2010, Bella, my almost 8 months puppy broke the squeaker of her new toy large Good Cuz and thus a hole was created. This hole turned out to be a powerful vacum and sucked up Bella’s tongue into the small hole. What the Cuz did to my Bella was exactly the same as the Pimple Ball did to Chai. Fortunately, Bella’s tongue is saved but poor Chai’s has been amputated. This whole incident was so distressful which I would not like to repeat it. I have already report the incident to the JW Pet company to request a recall of this dangerous toy from the market. IF THERE IS ALREADY A HOLE IN YOUR CUZ, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE THROW IT ALWAY IMMEDIATELY.

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