Saturday, June 21, 2008

Are Your Dog’s Toys Putting His Health at Risk?

I’m sure by now most of you have heard about the massive toy recalls for toys made in China. There were different reasons for different recalls, but it really got me thinking. Many of the children’s toys were recalled because of unsafe amounts of lead in the paint. If children’s toys are unsafe, then dog toys are probably unsafe as well. If you walk into any store that sells dog toys and look at the labels, most of them are made in China. As it turns out there are problems with dog toys, but they don’t necessarily have to do with being made in China. During the time the children’s toy recalls were in the news, I searched the internet to see if I could find any information about the safety of dog toys. At the time, I couldn’t find anything, but low and behold in the April 2008 issue of “The Whole Dog Journal” there was an article called ‘Why Vinyl Stinks’. After reading the article, I gathered up all the vinyl dog toys in the house and threw them in the trash.

The problems with vinyl toys are chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates are used to make vinyl flexible, and the dangers are not just in toys. Vinyl is everywhere. You and your dog most likely encounter vinyl products on a daily basis. All kinds of things are made from vinyl including toys, dog clothing, leashes, collars, carriers, dog beds, shower curtains, flooring, window blinds, backpacks, ponchos, and even your shoes. The list goes on and on. Phthalates are dangerous to everyone: you, your kids, and your animals. One characteristic of vinyl dog toys is the smell. If you’ve ever bought one of these toys, you know what I’m talking about. The problem with vinyl is that the chemical molecules of phthalates move not only within the vinyl, but they also move out of the vinyl. So if your dog is chewing on a vinyl dog toy, the phthalates are moving out of the toy and into your dog’s body. Phthalates can wreak havoc on your dog’s health. They can cause toxicity and biochemical changes in the kidneys and liver and they can have profoundly effect the reproductive system. There are also other additives in vinyl, including lead that can have a negative effect on your dog’s health. Lead can also be in other painted dog toys.

I’ll be the first to admit that my dogs have a ridiculous amount of toys, but they no longer have any vinyl toys. Yet, I still have to wonder what hidden dangers are lurking in other toys, most of them made in China. Weylin and Maggie have a veratible zoo of stuffed animals, as well as rubber balls and other rubber toys. Weylin’s favorites are the Kong squeaky tennis balls, and Maggie simply adores the small stuffed animals that ‘talk’. Until dog toys have to adhere to the same standards as children’s toys, we must be ever vigilant.

To learn more about the dangers of vinyl check out the April 2008 edition of “The Whole Dog Journal” ( or read this article:

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