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Are plastic dog toys harmful to my dog?

Here's why you should ditch the plastic when it comes to your pet’s toys.

Plastic, it’s everywhere. Global plastic production is increasing drastically – up from 1.5 million metric tons in 1950 to about 367 million metric tons in 2020

The Plastic “Death Cycle”

Our excessive use of plastic is clearly harmful for our environment, however, it doesn’t stop there. Plastic contaminates at every stage. Extraction and refinement, processing and manufacturing, distribution and consumption, and disposal; all of it is harmful in many ways. Rather than calling this the life cycle of plastic, it is known as the death cycle because of the harmful impacts it has on the Earth. Plastic is made from unsustainable materials such as crude oil, natural gasses, and coal. Its processing, along with its manufacturing discharge, creates a cruel combination that impacts the environment. 

From the Aisles to our Homes

From pumping our gas before we go to work, stopping to get a cup of coffee at the coffee shop, to going to the grocery store after work to get ingredients for dinner; our life is filled with these conscious and unconscious purchases. Every purchase we make in some way or another involves the use of plastic. Everyone by now is aware of the damage plastic has on our environment. You may have noticed more and more companies are making small shifts to using sustainable materials, like Nike incorporating recycled materials into their shoes or Grove Co. packaging all their cleaning products in glass. However, there are still a lot of companies who haven’t taken steps toward sustainability in their business practices .

When it comes to the purchases we may spend a little bit more time and research on, they involve our children and our dogs. Our children and pets involve us to put a little bit more effort into making sure we are purchasing the right products for them. Children’s toys and pet toys are especially important to consider. Those toys touch and roll around the ground and are in their mouths when they are being played with. Now, you wouldn’t want just anything in their mouths, right?

For now, the onus falls on the consumer to make informed purchasing decisions if they wish to shop sustainably. With an overwhelming amount of research to do, what categories do consumers focus their energy on?

The Ones That Got Away

New research from 2021 suggests that more than 100 chemicals found in plastic toy materials may pose possible health risks to children.

Toys are wonderful products that are meant to entertain, spark imagination, and promote developmental skills. When you pick a toy off the shelf for your pet back at home to play with, you shouldn’t have to worry about what harmful chemicals are possibly in that toy that can affect their health. Your mind shouldn’t be flooded with worries of the possibility of the toy making your pet sick. To ease your mind with new found information, here are some of the most important chemicals you should avoid when it comes to children's toys and pet toys.


Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple systems of the body and is particularly harmful to young children. It accumulates over time and is stored in the teeth and bones of an individual who may be exposed to it.  According to the CDC, lead softens plastic, making a toy more flexible to return to its original shape. When the plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air, and detergents, the chemical bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms dust, which then exposes your child and your pet.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

As the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic, it comes in two different forms: rigid and flexible. Phthalates are chemicals found in soft plastics (they stem from PVC products) and are also used to add a fragrance to products they are in. PVC contains toxic additives such as phthalates, lead, and cadmium, which can affect the respiratory and immune systems and have been linked to asthma and cancer.


Toys made of composite wood may have adhesives that release formaldehyde. In some cases (some stuffed animals and dolls), formaldehyde is used to bind pigments of fabric in order to be wrinkle free or water repellent.

Unlike children’s toys, pet products are not classified as products for consumers. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) does not provide oversight of pet products, which means there are no federal regulations present. Because of this, manufacturers that produce products for pets are not required to do any testing.

Making Playtime Safe: What Can You Do?

These chemicals are not only harmful for younger children, but your dogs and cats as well. This is why it is crucial you take the necessary time to select quality toy products for your pets. So what should you look for?

  • Environmentally Friendly: Little to no synthetic materials involved in the toy is environmentally friendly. It’s also pet friendly too.
  • Easily washable: To avoid the spreading of germs, buy toys that you can easily wash or perhaps put in the washing machine.
  • Non-Toxic: No toxic materials and chemicals, no problems. Minimize putting your pet in bad health conditions by ensuring the toxins mentioned
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