Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chemical-Flavored Chew Toys?

We all spend a lot of time and money to keep our pets safe – choosing high quality food, paying attention to recalls, buying the right toys that will keep him entertained and hold up to his teeth (at least for a little while). I mean, you wouldn’t let him chew on block of lead or an arsenic-filled bone any more than you’d let him play in traffic, would you?

But what if, despite all of your good intentions, your dog or cat is surrounded by toxic chemicals in their toys, beds, and collars?

There are no government standards for hazardous chemicals in pet products and, in’s test results on over 400 items, it shows. One-quarter of the toys and nearly half of the collars tested had detectable levels of lead, many of them exceeding the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) limit for children’s products.

The tennis ball you bat around the court is less likely to contain lead than the one you bought at a pet store for your dog to put in his mouth.

Our pets are highly sensitive to che
mical exposure. They’re closer to the ground, sniffing where the dust contaminated with chemicals from all our household products settles. Even if your pet doesn’t eat things he shouldn’t (though he was a puppy at some point, so odds are he has), his toys are designed for chewing. That’s what dogs and cats do. They also groom themselves, directly ingesting the chemical-laden dust. There’s not a whole lot of research in this area yet, but bio-monitoring of cats has already shown the exposure to toxic flame retardants is 23x higher than humans.

If they’re in trouble, we’re in trouble…and not just because they’re a part of the family. Are you familiar with the Canary in the Coal Mine? Now there’s the Beagle in the Bedroom, the Siamese in the Sitting Room.
What can you do?
  • Check out’s database to help you make smarter shopping decisions and see what’s in your house. In addition to pet supplies, there are children’s products, clothing accessories, even cars. You can even let them know what you think should be tested next.
  • Though the tags say to throw away a toy once it becomes torn, most of us let our pets destroy their toys until they’re unrecognizable or obviously hazardous. Sometimes the innards of toys hold the worst chemicals, like flame retardants in stuffing or lead in the parts that reinforce tougher toys. So, it might not be a bad idea to pay extra attention to what your critters are putting in their mouths and get rid of toys that have seen better days.
  • Contact the manufacturers of your favorite products and let them know you want safe products for your furry friend (and let the ones with healthy products know you appreciate them!). The pet industry is huge – it’s our dollars that have gotten it there and it’s our dollars that can impact where it goes next.
  • Go to the Take Action section of to find out how to contact your elected representatives. You can’t tell just by looking at stuff whether it’s healthy, and Made in the USA isn’t a guarantee either. It’s impossible to test everything on the market and, ultimately, we need stronger laws to get safe products on the shelves.
As pet owners, we’re used to speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves. Now they need us again, so spread the word and stay informed!

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