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Toy or toxin: How to identify safe products for pets


Do you know how to spot a potentially dangerous pet toy? We all want the best for our pets, but sometimes it can be hard to know which products are safe. Before you spoil your dog with a new toy or treat, make sure it isn’t one of these potentially harmful products.

Toys with lead paint. Unfortunately, there are no specific rules about which chemicals can be used in pet toys, and that can lead to problems. Some cheap pet toys are colored with paint or ink that may contain toxic levels of lead. Lead poisoning is most common in young animals, but any animal can be affected if enough of the paint is ingested.

Jerky treats. In recent years, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released several warnings about toxic jerky treats imported from China. Although we still don’t know why pets get sick from eating these treats, the FDA has identified chicken jerky varieties as one of the biggest culprits. Veterinarians recommend avoiding jerky treats, which aren’t really necessary for your pet anyway. If you do choose to feed jerky treats, make sure you monitor your pet closely for any signs of illness.

Hard chews and bones.
Although these products are not usually toxic, they still do pose a health risk to your pet. Many of these toys are too hard for your pet’s teeth and can cause teeth to break. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t indent the chew with your thumbnail, it’s too hard for your pet to chew! These products also pose a choking hazard to pets, especially as they are chewed into smaller pieces, so be sure to only let your pet chew them when you’re around to supervise.

Stuffed toys and pet beds.
The biggest concern with stuffed toys and bedding lies in the stuffing itself. Ingesting this fluffy material can cause a slew of problems for your pet.  Although intestinal blockage is the most common problem, some veterinarians have also raised concerns about the flame-retardant and antimicrobial chemicals used to make these products. In general, while it’s okay for your pet to play with stuffed toys and use soft bedding, you should always take them away when they become damaged and never let your pet ingest any pieces.

Pet food and water bowls.
Plastic bowls may pose problems for some pets and can aggravate conditions like allergies or acne. Cheap bowls that are painted or glazed may also contain toxic levels of lead. When choosing food and water bowls for your pet, consider using metal bowls or looking for products that are labeled as “food safe.”

When choosing new products for your pet, it’s important to do your research and find products that are safe. When in doubt, contacting the manufacturer or your veterinarian can help you determine whether the product is appropriate for your pet.


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