Toxins in Pet Chews, Toys and Beds

September 18, 2023
By: Adriana Valle

Last week, we shared a post discussing ways to reduce toxin exposure in our homes. Today, we want to dive a little deeper into places where many pet parents don’t know toxins may be lurking. Unfortunately, toxins in pet chews, toys and beds are quite common. Before you purchase any pet product, it’s best to educate yourself on why you might be better off avoiding some pet products altogether.

Toxins in Pet Chews

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In addition to causing dental damage, digestive issues, and choking, mainstream pet chews can be loaded with toxins. Rawhide, for example, undergoes a treatment process that exposes the material to potentially harmful chemicals. To yield the final product, chemical preservatives are applied to the hide for transport. Then, hides, leather industry byproducts, are treated with additional toxic chemicals to remove hair and fat. Then, hides are bleached or treated with formaldehyde. To get them to last longer, raw hide makers add GLUE, yes, GLUE. Then, they add color and synthetic flavors to coordinate with an upcoming holiday and make them more palatable. Even dental chews that are touted as higher quality, safe, and often sold at veterinary offices, may contain potentially harmful ingredients, including the ingredients meant to keep dogs’ teeth “clean

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While we agree that dogs can benefit from chews because chewing mimics natural feeding and self-soothing behaviors, choosing your chews carefully is key. We recommend you speak to your vet about chews that are both tooth-safe and non-toxic. The rule of thumb when choosing a tooth-safe chew is to avoid giving anything that, if you push your thumbnail in, won’t dent. And, avoiding chews that are made in China where pet product regulations are almost inexistent, is also a best bet.

Check out Bear’s Bites for delicious (to dogs) goodies like beef trachea and duck heads. Yes, it’s okay to place your dog in a crate or outdoor area for them to enjoy their species-appropriate, single-ingredient chews. We too get queasy just thinking about those things. Always make sure you supervise and provide fresh drinking water.

Toxins in Pet Toys

Pet toys may contain dangerous chemicals. Believe it or not, dangerous toxins including lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium salts, chlorine, and formaldehyde are common in imported pet toys. Many also include BPAs, phthalates, and PVC additives. When your pet chews on their toys, or swats them with their paws, they have the potential to ingest these concerning chemicals, many of which can cause kidney issues if absorbed in high quantities. Because our pets’s organs are already compromised by the chemicals in our homes, cleaning products, kibble, etc, it’s important to limit exposure to toxins in their play time and toys.

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When purchasing your pet’s toys, consider spending a little more to get a product that is made in the USA with verifiable safety and quality standards. Companies like GoughNuts, makers of “the world’s safest dog toys” use 100% natural rubber for their toys. They also offer a Goughnuts Safety Guarantee. If your dog chews through the outside wear layer of any Goughnuts ring or stick, green, black, or orange, to expose the red indication layer, Goughnuts will replace your toy. They created the “Chew Toy Safety Indicator” for the dog owner to see a clear indication of when to take the Goughnut from the dog.

Most other rubber toys can break and lead to choking or intestinal obstruction if swallowed, therefore, do your research before buying just any rubber toy and choose those made from natural rubber in the United States.

Toxins in Pet Beds

You’ve probably heard of the concept of off-gassing. Off-gassing refers to the release of chemicals into the air from manufactured items. These chemicals are in vapor form and are most likely to off-gas when a product – clothing, bedding, mattresses, flooring, furniture, etc. – is new.

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Unfortunately, the US doesn’t have the best regulations when it comes to chemicals in consumer products. In fact, many US-approved chemicals are banned in Europe. While we wait for the powers that be to crack down on dangerous chemicals, it’s up to us to make the best choices when purchasing items for ourselves, our pets, and our homes.

Because pets spend a good amount of time on their beds, many of them sleeping for 50% of their day, it’s smart to invest in a high-quality bed rather than a value bed from a discount store. For those who are willing and able, the makers of Big Barker Beds use better ingredients and take better care of their products’ foam than most pet bed makers. Big Barker promises that, with their products, “you’ll never get that nasty “chemical” smell that irritates the skin, nose, and eyes of both dogs and humans alike.”

If toxin-free bedding is out of your budget, opt for a bed with a washable cover and liner. If it’s washable, you can, at minimum, wash the cover and liner in a toxin-free detergent to keep your pet’s hair and fur safe from toxins.

Pet Product Knowledge

At Shoreline Happy Paws, we believe that pet product knowledge is key. The more we know, the better choices we can make. This is why we blog weekly and provide ongoing staff training to our team. it’s also why I attend pet sitters conferences whenever possible. The more I learn, the more I can pass on my knowledge to my valued employees and beloved clients. The more you know, the better choices you can make on your pet’s behalf.

Shoreline Happy Paws offers professional in-home dog walking and pet sitting services in the following Connecticut Shoreline areas:

  • Old Saybrook
  • Essex, Ivoryton & Centerbrook
  • Deep River
  • Chester
  • Westbrook
  • Clinton
  • Old Lyme
  • East Lyme
  • Niantic

Certain Areas and Limited Service Hours in:

  • Lyme and Madison
  • Waterford, New London, Groton
  • Uncasville, Gales Ferry, Mystic, Noank

Please contact us by phone or text at 860-964-0464 or via email at to learn more.

By Adriana Valle

Adriana is the owner and Chief Pet-Loving Officer at Shoreline Happy Paws. She has been a Professional Pet Sitter for over 10 years.

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