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Toxic Dog Toys

January 18, 2021 4 min read

What toys are toxic for dogs

As a pet parent, I love to buy my dogs toys. I never fail to visit the pet section in any stores in case there's something I know my dog would love! But did you know not all toys are safe? I sure didn't.

So, before you reach to buy your favorite pup a new toy, you’ll want to be careful about what’s used to make it. There are actually several toxic materials that are found in dog toys that are harmful to your pet, and the best way to protect them is by finding out which materials to avoid.

Which Materials Should I Avoid?

Since dog toys don’t have an official regulator, there are a lot of toxic materials that companies can get away with putting in their toys. With dog toys, there aren’t the same restrictions on toxins as there are with children’s toys, releasing substances like lead and arsenic into a large number of dog toys. Here are 10 of the most harmful substances found in dog toys:


Melamine has been linked to several problems in dogs, such as kidney damage or even failure. Melamine is found mostly in plastic products, and was even found in a handful of kibble brands that have since been recalled. Melamine is most useful in industrial manufacturing, like as a binding agent or flame retardant- which should go to show that it shouldn’t be given to your pet.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl chloride, or Vinyl, is a hard material that is used to soften many dog toys for chewing. It contains chlorine that is released as your pup chews on it more, putting them at risk of cancer and immune damage. When being manufactured into a dog toy, phthalates are often added to the PVC to make it softer for chewing- while also making it much more toxic. Be sure to avoid Vinyl dog products, since they go hand-in-hand with phthalates, which we’ll talk about next.


Mentioned above, phthalates are added to toys with polyvinyl chloride as a way to soften them. As your dog chews on a flexible dog toy, the phthalates inside are being released into their gums, and then to their bloodstream. When these toxic substances enter your dog’s system, their liver or kidney can face some serious damage. Be sure to avoid Vinyl dog products, since they go hand-in-hand with phthalates.


Arsenic is a heavy metal that has severe effects on both dogs and humans, and some toys contain small traces of it. Arsenic can lead to vomiting, diarrhea with blood, loss of consciousness, and even death in dogs. Even some tennis balls contain an amount of arsenic, so it’s best to be careful of which brands you are purchasing your toys from.


Lead is yet another extremely toxic heavy metal for dogs that is harmful to both humans and dogs. Lead can lead to a wide range of problems in your dog, such as blindness, seizures, tremors, lethargy, and death. Like arsenic, lead was found in a handful of tennis ball brands.


Bromine is most commonly used as a safer alternative to chlorine in pool water, but it still has harmful effects to your pup. Bromine can cause upset digestion and changes to urination, and if consumed in a large enough amount, can cause long-term illnesses like pancreatitis. Bromine can be found in dog beds and stuffed toys.


Chromium is used by veterinarians as an insulin supplement for dogs, but can be fatal in large amounts. Chromium has been proven to cause cancer in humans at high enough dosages, so it should definitely be kept away from your dog. Chromium can be found in China-manufactured dog toys, and Walmart has been found selling these chromium-containing toys in the past.


Cadmium is used today in batteries, pigments, and solar cells, being a particularly dangerous toxin for your dog. Like Chromium, Cadmium is found in Chinese-manufactured dog toys. In high doses, this toxin can destroy your pup’s kidneys, lungs, and joints. Cadmium usually is found when Chromium is found as well, so if there is just one of these toxins in a dog toy, be sure to avoid it altogether.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is found in all kinds of plastics and resins. BPA is extremely toxic to dogs and humans, and can cause developmental effects on children and puppies. BPA also interrupts a dog’s endocrine system, hurting their metabolism and gut microbiome. BPA is mostly found in canned dog foods and plastic dog toys.


Formaldehyde is a preservative used in rawhide chews, and can cause problems for dogs with high doses or exposure. If your dog consumes too much formaldehyde, they may experience respiratory and digestive issues. With long-term exposure, formaldehyde can even cause cancer. To avoid formaldehyde, you should avoid rawhide altogether, since it has a series of other negative effects that may harm your dog.

How Should I Avoid These Toxins?

Luckily, there are ways we can monitor our pet’s toys for these toxins. For one, you can search up your dog’s toys in the Healthy Stuff Product Search. This search gives you the exact amount of toxins in your dog’s toys.

Another way to avoid these toxins is by only purchasing from hazard-free companies. Giving your dog homemade toys is also a great way to monitor what is going in and out of your pup’s mouth! Raw bones are a great way for your pup to get some fun from chewing and cleaning their teeth!

Finally, you can always research the company of your dog’s toy to find any statements about toxins. If you can’t find any results online and still aren’t sure, calling or emailing the company may be your best bet.

Dog Toy Safety

To keep your dog safe from any other toy-related hazards, you’ll want to make sure everything they play with is completely safe. Make sure that there are no small parts attached to your dog’s toy that they can swallow, and as soon as a toy is broken it should be thrown away. Since dogs love to victoriously tear squeakers out of their toys, you’ll want to monitor them with squeaky toys at all times.

Make sure that playtime is always fun for your dog by monitoring their play and avoiding any toxins in their toys!