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Killer Dog Toys

By Tracy Werner

They squeak, they squish, they bounce. They come in all shapes and colours, from T-bone steaks to squeaky porcupines. Your dogs play with them, chew on them, and love them to pieces (literally). What you might not know is that they could cause cancer and liver damage. Vinyl and plastic dog toys contain a chemical compound that is currently under investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) due to possible cancer risks to humans. The chemical in question is DINP (di-isononyl phthalate), used to make hard PVC plastic soft and pliable. In 1998 Health Canada issued an advisory warning about the dangers of mouthing soft plastic toys by small children, and some countries, such as Sweden, Germany, and Italy, have already started phasing out DINP for use in children's toys. But no one is talking about the effects DINP may have on dogs' health.

Over the past decade, scientific research has shown that DINP can be toxic to lab animals, causing liver and kidney damage and at higher levels of exposure, increased cancer incidence. These findings were important enough to prompt further review of exposures to children due to mouthing soft plastic toys. The studies focused on small children who generally only mouth toys for brief periods during a small fraction of their lifespan. Dogs, in contrast, may chew and ingest soft vinyl toys for hours at a time throughout their entire lives.

The U.S. CPSC concluded that phthalates can leach out of plastics and that a child mouthing or sucking a soft plastic toy may ingest more than the acceptable daily intake. Their 1998 report, The Risk of Chronic Toxicity Associated with Exposure to Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP) in Children's Products, states that "Animal studies show that DINP causes chronic toxic effects to the liver and other organs." and that "the maganitude of the risk is directly related to the amuont of DINP released from mouthing and the amount of time children mouth the products."

Then what about our dogs? According to vinylfacts.com, "almost all soft plastic toys contain PVC," so avoid these types of toys if you're concerned about the health risks mentioned above. Natural rubber or latex soft toys provide a non-toxic and environmentally friendly alternative.

Tracy Werner is the owner of Natural Pet Market, a company focused on healthy alternatives for companion animals. (See www.naturalpetmarket.com.) Her recent loss of one of her dogs to cancer prompted her to research the issues she discusses here.

References:
www.vinylfacts.com – PVC in Toys
USCPSC – The Risk of Chronic Toxicity Associated with Exposure to Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP) in Children’s Products 1998

This article was posted by Tracy Werner

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