Welcome to the new Blount Animal Wellness blog! We are a 501(c)(3) located in Blount County, TN. Our official name is the John R. Hamil Animal Wellness Foundation, Inc. I'm Roxanne Coffey, Secretary on the Board of Directors, and I've created this blog to help you be a better pet owner. Along the way, we'll share more about our education programs and efforts to spay and neuter the pets of Blount County.
Many of us who are parents of kids (not just the furry kind), have seen recalls of toys from China. These are items that may break apart easily, but more often the concern is that the toys are made with lead-based paints. These present a danger not just to younger children that may put an item in their mouth -- simply handling the toy can be risky.
How much more dangerous is it for our fur kids? Telling them not to chew something is usually an exercise in futility.
In a blog post by Itchmo: News for Dogs and Cats, from September of 2007, a pet owner in Illinois had her dog toys tested for lead. The short answer is, they contained lead but under the amounts set as hazardous in children's toys per the state of Illinois. Stepping on to my soap box (the same one I use when talking about lead in lipstick), I must point out, "Why is any amount of lead ok?" With lipstick, we are eating it. With dog toys, my dog is eating it. She may not mean to, but she is! And, let's be honest here -- she weights a lot less than I do!
On Consumer Affairs, they posted a study about dog and cat toys sold in Wal-Mart -- again from September 2007. In this case, they were considering lead, chromium and cadmium levels. Again, there was a disagreement -- not that lead, chromium and cadmium were present, but that the amounts constituted a danger. Touching or licking the toy would release these minerals. Especially high levels were found in catnip toys from China.
In one sense, it is like discussing cigarettes and smoking. Will you get cancer from one cigarette? Probably not. If you are a chain smoker for 20 years? Odds are much, much higher. Will your dog get cancer from a toy from China? Probably not. If he chews up a toy every few days, for a month or a year? Odds are much, much higher. Lead builds up in the system. In animals, lead can cause weight loss, seizures, anemia and permanent neurological damage.
The Bark followed up on this topic in their April / May 2010 issue. (Click here to read the full article) . An interesting point made in the article was that the Consumer Products Safety Commission has no jurisdiction over pet toys. This means you are on your own in making sure pet toys are safe.
American Pet Products Association (APPA), a not-for-profit trade association, is focused on the quality and quality control of pet food and ingredients, but their organization had no statements available to the public on pet toys (The Bark article pointed out that they hadn't taken a stand in 2010 and they still have no stance on the subject -- at least none I could find on their website).
If it is up to you to make sure your pet's toys are safe, where can you go for safe dog (and cat) toys?
Try Planet Dog, a site recommended in the Bark article. The link will take you to their home page. From there, check out the "Shop" link to find toys that are made in the USA. If you are buying toys in PetSmart or Target or another chain store, look first. Somewhere on the packaging it will indicate the country of origin for the toy. If it is made in China, please consider something else.
What about making your own toys? If you are anything like me, you've got unmatched socks gathering dust as they wait for their globe-trotting partners to return. They might as well earn their keep! I've tied knots in socks, put empty water bottles in socks and put some of the stuffing she's torn out of things into socks. Trust me on this one -- the dog doesn't care if it is cute or even if it smells good! As far as my kitties go, they really like yarn dolls (found this out the hard way, with yarn doll Christmas ornaments -- but that is another story).
How about you? Do you have ideas for homemade dog or cat toys? Please share them! If you know of other sources for safe toys, tell us about that too! Just scroll to the comments field at the end and let us know!
If you'd like to learn more about pet care and safety you'll find a way to subscribe to our blog in the sidebar. Click on the link and sign up! You'll get notice of the latest postings direct to your email. You can also bookmark our page and come back every Thursday for a new post. Please let us know what you think by clicking on the comments section.
I'd also love ideas for future blogs -- is there something you want to know more about or a problem you are dealing with relating to your pet? Share and I'll see what I can find!
Our next blog will focus on treats from China and then we'll have a first-hand account of treating for heart worms.