I’d like to thank everyone who commented on my article Dog Toys from China – Why We Should be Worried. I was horrified by the number of you whose dogs have been suffering inexplicable seizures and which are now on long term medication to control them.
The common denominator appears to be dog toys purchased from a variety of stores, and all of which were manufactured in China.
In response to Theresa’s question yesterday as to whether there is a list of toys that have been recalled, I’ve found what I can on the toys recalled, and put together a list of toys that are manufactured in the US which you may feel are safer to give your dogs to play with.
A Summary of the Problem
Late last year Consumer Affairs published a number of articles highlighting tests they’d done on a variety of dog toys manufactured in China and which contained high levels of lead, chromium and cadmium.
There are guidelines for the amount of lead considered to be safe in childrens toys, but no regulation for dog toys. However, given how small a body mass many dogs are compared to children, and the fact they lick, chew and swallow their toys more than children do, you’d have to think that dogs would become ill playing with toys containing much lower levels of lead than that recommended.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission states that the safe level of lead is 600 parts per million (ppm), many of the toys tested contained lead that exceeded this amount.
Which Toys Have Been Tested?
Whilst there have been numerous tests for lead and other poisonous substances undertaken on dog toys, it’s been difficult to specifically identify the toys that have been tested.
Here are links to the tests that I have managed to find:
- Fox News Chicago – found Paws ‘N Claws tennis balls contained an ink logo that had lead in it of 30,000 ppm, and ceramic dog bowls which contained paint with 3,000 ppm of lead in it;
- Consumer Affairs – found high levels of lead in PetSmart tennis balls, Hartz rubber Percival Platypus, a cloth hedgehog and a Green latex monster (picture below); and
- Target 7 – found levels of lead in toys, but the toys were not specifically identified.
What seems to be evident from the articles is that painted toys contain the highest levels of lead in them, particularly toys made from latex and plastic.
However, the plastic or PVC toys themselves may also contain high levels of lead, and this isn’t just a problem with Chinese manufacture, but an issue that’s inherent in the production of PVC (also known as vinyl) wherever it’s manufactured. PVC is identified by the label “3” on the bottom of a plastic product.
In 2005 a Greenpeace investigation highlighted the presence of hazardous levels of lead and cadmium in a number of vinyl consumer products, including childrens toys such as Barbie, Minnie and Mickey Mouse, 101 Dalmatians, Bugs Bunny, and various other Looney Tunes character toys. How many of these toys do our dogs end up chewing?
Here is a link to all the childrens toys that have been recalled by the CPSC – this is a useful list as many pet and childrens toys seem to be interchangeable.
So, it would seem that any colorful plastic or latex toy is a potential hazard to our dogs, together with anything that includes a painted design (such as ceramic food bowls).
What’s the Alternative?
Ideally you want to find products that are made locally by a company you feel you can trust.
Many thanks to Denise who has found that Penn tennis balls are made in the US. So if your dog is a tennis ball nut, Penn may be a safer alternative to all other brands that would appear to be manufactured in China.
Kong has stated that all it’s products are made in the US with the exception of Air KONG (tennis ball toys), KONG Plush, and KONG Wubba, all of which are made in China.
Kong’s director of marketing, Chuck Costello has said that “All imported KONG product lines are tested by independent laboratories, once in China and again in the U.S. to prove they are safe and non-toxic, …” Source: Consumer Affairs
Another company that is worth looking at is West Paw Design which is based in Montana and manufactures all it’s products in the US.
Another alternative is that you can make your own toys, and I’ll post some ideas I’ve found tomorrow.
What have I done with the dogs’ toys? All the plush and plastic toys manufactured in China have gone in the bin and we are left with Kongs, and old rope chew toy that’s lost it’s color so I’ve assumed it’s probably OK for Zoe and Fritz to continue chewing on, some knotted tea towels and a number of tennis balls.
They don’t look the most attractive set of toys in the toy box, but I’ve made the decision that chewing on brightly colored plastic probably isn’t good for my dogs, and they seem happier enough with the alternatives.