At safemade, we try to make that easier for you by producing and designing toys and products that are fun, but also steer clear of hazards that some toys on the market may pose. In fact, our toys are tested to ASTM guidelines for safety for children’s toys and the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) standards for lead and phthalates. We’ve also added a few of our own tests that simulate the rigorous ways that dogs often play with their toys. All of our bowls and feeding aids pass FDA guidelines for food safe dishware. We want our products to be safe for your entire family. You will not find “Not Suitable for Children” labels on our products.

You should always be aware, however, that nothing is ever 100% safe. Toys and chews should always be monitored for wear and tear, as ingestion of small parts and indigestible materials is a major cause of illness and intestinal issues. Below are a few tips and guidelines for selecting toys that represent some safer options for your pet.

To reduce the risk associated with choking hazards and digestive problems caused by small parts, look out for the following:

Sponges, loofah products. The biggest problems are caused by items that will compress somewhat so they are easier to swallow but expand again once in the stomach or intestine--such as sponge.
Toys with small parts. This would include things such as buttons and plastic eyes on plush toys. Also look out for things like bells, small plastic pieces, ribbons and other embellishments.
Toys that are inappropriately sized for your dog. Large dogs, especially, should not have toys designed for small dogs.
Rope toys. According to Dr. John Pisciotta, one of the participating members of our board of vets, toys with irregular surfaces tend to stick to the mucosa (intestinal lining) and get caught. They can create intestinal blockages and major digestive issues. Other examples of such items would be corn cob, peach pits, and sponge/loofah.
Stuffed toys with squeakers. Dogs love squeakers, it’s true! But they also have a tendency to tear them out of stuffed toys, and they constitute a choking hazard.
Tennis balls. Again, dogs love tennis balls, but the outer “fuzz” of a tennis ball can cause problems. They also often chew these thin, hollow balls into small indigestible pieces. A thicker, sturdier rubber ball or a frisbee is a safer solution.
Labels. Check your dog toy labels for child safety testing. Often times, toys labeled as safe for children under three years of age do not contain dangerous fillings or unclear fillings. Though be aware that even fillings that are not dangerous may not be digestible and your dog should still be supervised when playing.

Thick, durable toys are the safest choices for your dog. They also usually have greater radio-opacity, which means if a dog ingests parts of them, they can be more easily detected with x-rays. Always monitor your dog and its toys, especially if your dog has destructive tendencies. Toys that show wear, or that have been ripped open should be thrown away.

Second in concern are chemical hazards present in toys. Major chemicals of concern in the manufacture of toys are:

Heavy metals. This includes lead. Toys with printing or scrapeable surface coatings, like printed tennis balls, are especially prone. As in humans, overexposure to high levels of lead, especially when digested, can cause issues with mental and physical development and is toxic to many of the organs of the body.
Phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals often used as platicizers. This means they are added to plastic products to soften them. Phthalates have been associated with many health issues, including ones related to reproductive health, in various studies. In the recently passed CPSIA legislation it states: "it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the United States any children’s toy or child care article that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of DEHP, DBP, or BBP" and "it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the United States any children’s toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth or child care article that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of DINP, DIDP, DnOP." Why should we show any less care for monitoring the toys that our pets mouth and chew? That’s why safemade tests its toys and products for phthalates and heavy metals.

Things to look for in other types of products:

Bowls and feeding aids. Be sure your bowls and foodware are all tested to FDA standards. Heavy metals can leach into drinking water and food from bowls that are not compliant to these regulations.
Pet beds and pillows. Stuffing materials should be tested for cleanliness. Look for labels that say “all new materials.” Seams and stitching should be strong.

Happy shopping and stay safe!

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