I am not afraid to admit that I wasn’t a very educated dog owner in the beginning. I tell people that “I made very mistake in the book” with Chester and I am not kidding. Although I consider myself a pretty educated pet parent now, I admit I still have a lot of learning to do. There are new things that pop up every day that make me wonder if I am doing the right things for Chester and Gretel.
Gretel had really bad anxiety when she came to live with us. One of the things that finally kept her from busting out of her crate when we left was giving her a stuffed treat toy. She has been obsessed with her favorite treat toy ever since. I see her chewing on it at least 2 or 3 times a day and sometimes she even carries it out to potty with her. She licks it over and over again until her face smells like “plastic”.
I recently became aware of a “new” danger with dog chew toys – bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. Doggy chew toys that are made of hard plastic and vinyl contain them.
BPA and phthalates have been linked to a number of health issues, including altered hormones, impaired development of reproductive organs, decreased fertility and cancers in humans and rodents. The United States and the European Union have banned some phthalates in children’s toys. According to an article in Environmental Health News, researchers at Texas Tech University found that BPA and phthalates readily leach from bumper toys, which are used to train retrieving dogs.
There have been no studies that make a direct link between these chemicals and harmful health effects for dogs. However, logic tells me that it’s likely since people and other animals have been negatively affected by them.
I immediately thought of Gretel sucking for hours on her treat toy and got a little worried. I didn’t know if was the kind of chew toy that contained those icky chemicals. I fast forwarded 5 years in my mind wondering if that kind of constant exposure would cause her to get cancer. I wanted to find out if her chew toy contained BPA or phthalates fast!
The treat toy that Gretel is obsessed with is the Busy Buddy Waggle from PetSafe.
I contacted PetSafe and they said, “The Busy Buddy toys are made of 70% natural and 30% synthetic rubber, and are flavored with vanilla to cover the natural rubber smell. They are BPA free. Our toys are tested to the same standards that the US government requires for children’s toys.” Natural rubber toys do not come with the same risks as plastic toys that contain BPA and phthalates.
Please be aware that natural rubber does contain latex proteins though. That means they aren’t a good choice if either you or your dog has a latex allergy. It is also possible for latex allergies to develop from frequent and prolonged exposure. In our case, since Gretel has been sucking on her rubber toys multiple times a day for over 5 years, I think she would have developed a latex allergy by now is she was going to.
So it sounds like we’re in the clear, right? Not so fast. Gretel’s favorite toy contains synthetic rubber. Synthetic rubber is made by man from petrochemicals petrochemicals (petroleum). I’ve reached out to PetSafe to confirm the Busy Buddy Waggle does not contain phthalates either. I have not received a response yet (probably due to the holiday) but a) I am assuming that the answer is no because they are tested to the same standards as children’s toys and I assume phthalates are not allowed in them and b) The Soft Landing, a blog about safe, natural living, published a BPA, PVC & Phthalate Free Dog Toy Buying Guide and Busy Buddy toys were on the list. I’ll come back here and update when I hear back from PetSafe.
UPDATE: I did hear back from PetSafe and this is what they said, “Natural Rubber and Synthetic rubber do not contain BPA OR phthalates. Both of those chemicals are a result of plastic products, not rubber.”. So good news!
Other BPA and Phthalate-free Toys
Since the discovery of the negative effects of BPA and phthalates on children, some manufacturers of dog chew and treat toys have started manufacturing toys without those chemicals. Besides the Busy Buddy line from PetSafe, here are some other companies with safer toys:
This is one of the safest toy companies I have found. They are the first TÜV Certified dog training toy. TÜV Certification means that the product has been tested by a third-party for, and is free of, cadmium, phthalates, PAH’s, tinorganic compounds, asocolorants, and DIN EN 77-3/9. I admit that I don’t know what all of those things are but I assume they are bad if the toys are being “safety” tested for them.
The Soft Landing blog also listed these toys in their BPA, PVC & Phthalate Free Dog Toy Buying Guide. Besides Premier Pets, the company that makes the Busy Buddy line of toys, and distributed by PetSafe, these are the other companies on their list:
Now that you know the truth. you can make for informed choices for your pet. However, I know many dogs will get gifts from well-meaning friends and family members on holidays and birthdays. For the safety of your pets, please check the labels of any “plastic” looking toys. Make sure the label says the toy is “BPA Free” and “phthalate free” or are made in the US from 100% natural rubber. If the toys are risky, you might want to donate them to a local shelter or toss them in the trash.