Toxic Dog Toys: Why choose natural dog rope toys

Any sort of dog toy is absolutely crucial for a dogs development. They should be a source of fun, mental stimulation and bonding time with their favourite hooman.

Unfortunately, there is a sad truth behind the little synthetic, plastic dog play things. Most dog toys are imported from China and other Asian countries produced under poor manufacturing processes with no quality control. There is no testing required or any legislation in place on the chemical components used when producing toys for our mouthy best friends.

Have you ever wondered about the toys your dog is chewing or gnawing on? This blog post will shed some light on why natural dog products might be a better option if you want to keep your dog safe!

Dog chew toys
Dog toys are required to stimulate your dog mentally and physically

Dog toy safety standards

We wished that we would be able to write something here. However, dog toy safety standards don’t exist anywhere in the world. At the same time, chewy toys are crucial for your dogs mental and physical stimulation, especially for little innocent puppies.

One environmental organisation, the Ecology Center based in Michigan, tested pet toys, collars, leads and tennis balls on toxicity and the results were more than concerning. Many contained an “alarming” level of lead and other unfavourable chemicals.

Below a summary of some of the results:

- 48% of all tested tennis balls contained lead

- Almost 50% of all tested pet collars and lead had a detectable level of lead

- 45% of all tested pet products contained arsenic, chlorine or bromine. All of these are linked to cancers and liver toxicity. Products containing Bromine are regularly recalled from the market if detected in toys

Short-term exposure might not be a problem. But how does long-term exposure influence your pups development? That has not been properly researched so we can’t be sure.

We think its better to be safe than sorry.

Lets have a look what needs to be considered when choosing a dog rope toy or other chewy toys for your furry friend.

Dogs playing with a dog rope toy
Hemp rope toys have naturally antibacterial traits and are resistant to mold and mildew

Things to consider when choosing a safe dog toy

Chemical dyes and coatings

Chemical dyes like azo dyes are the largest group of dyes with around 60-70% used for industrial purposes. It has been proven that they are carcinogenic when they break down under certain conditions. They have been linked to bladder and liver cancer. This applies to around 4-5% of azo dyes. They have been regulated for human use in first world countries like the US, Canada and the EU. There is however no regulation in place for dog products.

Most dog toys are dyed with azo-dyes. By biting on the textile or wearing colorful dog harnesses and collars, the dyes are in contact with the skin and are being slowly absorbed by the dog where they accumulate.

The second impact is an environmental one. Azo dyes don’t degrade under natural conditions. The biggest problem is the contamination of waste water as the factories are releasing them into the environment. The contaminated water has been linked to growth reduction, death in marine life and reduced plant productivity.Ultimately, nothing that would help to reduce a carbon paw print.

It’s safer to choose a natural pet product or natural materials in general. Hemp is great, as its not treated heavily.

Chemical coatings are used in edible chewy products like rawhide as well. They are often treated with bleach and formaldehyde to sterilise them when separating them from the animals skin. Sometimes they are coated with chemicals to convey a flavour or colour. Either way, any chemical preservative should be avoided.

If you can, choose a natural material, like jute, hemp or organic cotton. These are usually untreated natural fibers.

Size matters

It’s a nightmare scenario for every dog owner. Your dog has swallowed a smaller toy by accident. First of all its always important to supervise your dog whenever they’re playing with a toy. The second important and admittedly obvious thing is to not buy toys that are too small or too big for your dog.

A small toy can be swallowed accidentally while a toy that is too big can strain your dogs jaw. If you leave your dog alone with a chew toy in their crate, then make sure it’s as safe as it can be.


When selecting chewy toys for our dog, its crucial to look out for tooth friendly toys. A dogs enamel is thinner than humans hence it needs to be protected. Chewy things that are too hard can fracture teeth and lead to infections.

Perform the fingernail test. If the chewy item is too hard to leave a temporary dent, then the toy will be too hard for the teeth.

Antlers for example are classified as bones. In most cases they will fail the fingernail test. They’re too hard for dogs teeth even though they are very durable dog chews. The risks associated with antlers outweigh the benefits and vets don’t recommend them.

A broken tooth results in damaged enamel that can get infected and travel into the roots. If you ever had a root abscess personally, you can imagine the extreme pain that in can cause.


We have elaborated about coatings on some edible chewy bites and toys. Sometimes these are treated with a coating so the manufacturer can claim the toy is antibacterial and won’t smell. Unfortunately, these coatings can be toxic to your furry friend.

The toy should be washable or at least dishwasher friendly so you can rotate them out for cleaning purposes.

Hemp is a material with natural antibacterial properties. It cleans teeth while animating the dog with its naturally earthy smell. It’s a top choice for an eco-friendly and non-toxic rope toy as its also resistant to mold and mildew.

After hearing all this you might be wondering, what chewy toys are good for my dog? Lets sum it up!

What chewy toys are safe for my dog?

If in doubt, look for untreated and natural materials. Avoid polyester or heavily dyed cotton chew toys so your dog doesn’t absorb unnecessary chemicals.

As an eco friendly pet product brand, we swear on chewy natural dog rope toys made from hemp. They can be purchased in 4 different sizes so any dog can find a fitting sized toy.

Some good ideas for enrichment are provided my nature herself. Try some crunchy carrots or apples. Be sure to take out the core of the apple as too many seeds can be harmful for dogs.

Before giving your dog any vegetables or fruits, make sure you read which ones are great and which ones can be harmful. Celery is another crunchy and healthy vegetable. Make sure you test all raw foods on your dog in small portions at first because sometimes it can upset their stomach. Food allergies are also becoming more common in dogs.

dog with an apple
A great replacement for coated chemical chews are apples, carrots and celery

Another natural alternative for smaller dogs are yak chews. They are eco-friendly alternatives to deer antlers.

Where does this leave you and your dog? The UK office for Product Safety and Standards is recalling toys for children daily due to chemical components or small pieces that can cause a choking hazard.

Ultimately, you want to keep your best friend safe from chemicals and nasties. As there is no legislation in place its our responsibility to look at ingredients and brand labels whilst at the same time campaigning for a better legislation for our four-legged friends.

The dog is a hoomans best friend, and it is your responsibility to keep them safe. If you love nature as much as we do and want to remove plastic from your dogs life and yours: Click to our shop page to shop some natural accessories, toys and treats made from hemp.

Do you have a bit more time on hand? Check out our extensive library of dog breeds (still ongoing work!) or subscribe to our monthly newsletter for exclusive deals and helpful information like this blog post!

Health Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If your dog may have a health problem, you should consult your vet.