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After going to a Petco and searching in vain for toys made elsewhere, Ms. Rogers purchased 24 toys from Petco and PetSmart and had them tested for lead at a lab at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. All were found to fall below the federally regulated children’s toy lead-content limit of 600 parts per million. (The American Academy of Pediatrics wants the limit reduced to 40 parts per million.)
Although the concerns are different when it comes to pets — if a golden retriever loses a few I.Q. points, will anyone notice? — the inquiries have continued to pour in during the Christmas season, when people are most likely to buy pet toys. According to the American Pet Products Association, 56 percent of dog owners and 42 percent of cat owners buy their pets toys or other treats for Christmas, in an industry with $40 billion in annual sales.
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Interactive Toys for Small Pets by CatTamboo!
Throughout December, we are collecting toys for the cats and dogs in our adoption center. The goal is to collect enough toys in one month to entertain the homeless animals in our shelter throughout the coming year by filling our sleigh! You can help by bringing new cat and dog toys and treats to the Maryland SPCA. Some of the toys the pets like best are Kongs, Buster Cubes, toy mice (without catnip) and plush squeaky toys. Providing toys for the animals is more than a nice touch. Having toys and treats in the shelter environment helps socialize pets, reduces stress and improves health. Despite the constant media comments about how we pamper our pets, toys are no mere luxury. Experts say that dogs need them, and need more than one kind. That doesn’t mean more bells and whistles, just different types. Toys can take the edge off a bad day, like a stress ball you squeeze when you’re mad. Softer toys a dog can “baby” satisfy gentler instincts. Frisbees, balls and tugs are ways to share the fun, while squeaky playthings cry out for attack. When your dog settles down with a chew toy, he's not only exercising his jaws and cleaning his teeth—he's getting a mental workout too. "Dogs explore the world with their mouths—they get into a chew like a person gets into a good book," which benefits their brains, explains Kristen Collins, an animal behaviorist from the ASPCA behavior team. Not only will plenty of supervised chew time keep your pooch engaged, it will help stop him from turning to less appealing objects (such as your TV remote) to satisfy his gnawing needs.
Yet with dozens of options in every toy aisle, picking the right chew can be overwhelming—and health concerns abound. Vets are concerned not only about a dog biting off and swallowing pieces of these toys but also with the dangers of the toxic chemicals some are made of. In an industry not directly regulated by the government (see below), it's up to you to make the best choice. Let the nibbling begin!
The Problem with Plastic
Many chew toys are made from polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC or vinyl—a cheaply manufactured rubbery plastic. While the texture may be ideal for chewing, what lurks inside is not: The chemicals that give this plastic its chewy quality are known as phthalates. According to one Danish study that examined the effects of these on pets, the grinding, heat, and moisture associated with chewing breaks down the plastics, depositing phthalates into your dog's body and increasing his risk of liver, kidney, and reproductive problems.
Tough plastic bones are another pitfall. A good test: Dig your fingernail into the toy. If you can't make a dent, it's not safe. Puppies and seniors need even softer surfaces than this for their more tender gums.
How To Play It Safe: Vinyl toys don't carry a warning label. So look for toys designated "phthalate free," a claim that is government regulated, or check with the manufacturer. Planet Dog's Orbee-Tuff RecycleBone ($12; ) is not only made without phthalates but also uses FDA-certified nontoxic dye. For a superchewer who rips toys in minutes, try Honest Pet Products Eco-Fetcher ($9 to $16; ). The dye-and chemical-free ultradurable hemp is soft enough for any dog but tough enough to take serious chomping.
Beware of Bones
Rawhides may seem like a natural choice, but don't be fooled: This animal skin is often put through processing that involves dozens of chemicals, including bleach for color, before hitting stores. They also can break into small pieces that are a choking hazard. Fresh bones from the butcher have drawbacks too—biting the hard exterior can crack teeth, and sucking marrow can cause pancreatitis.
How To Play It Safe: Try Kong Classic ($7 to $23; pet stores)—the nontoxic, natural-rubber cone has a hole for stuffing treats, food, or peanut butter (which can echo finding marrow in a bone). For more chewing time, add food and then freeze. We have grown into a company that manufactures lines of Interactive toys for dog, dog chews, cat toys & pet toys, nylon bone are now products Made in USA. Since the inception of Pet Qwerks in 2003, our efforts have been focused on providing interactive dog toys that hold the pet’s attention. We have grown into a company that manufactures lines of , , & , are now products Made in USA. was founded with the introduction of the in 2004. Those were our first products and they remain our flagship today. Our focus has always been innovation and enriching the lives of pets. While the heart of Pet Qwerks remains in the , we have grown to manufacture plush, rubber and now an exceptional line of Flavorit dog chews and dog toys. As always, our products are different from the rest. More than anything, we are still a small, family owned and operated business that takes great pride in our ability to offer exceptional value and service to each and every customer.