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  • Writer's pictureHooman's Friend

Toxic Dog Toys: Why to choose natural dog rope toys

Any sort of dog toy is crucial for a dog's 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 and produced under poor manufacturing processes with no quality control. In addition, there is no testing required or legislation on the chemical components used when making toys for our mouthy best friends.

Have you ever wondered about your dog's toys? This blog post will shed some light on why natural dog products might be a better option to keep your dog safe! Natural dog rope toys made from hemp might be an excellent option to protect your dog from nasty materials.

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

Dog toy safety standards

We wish that we would be able to write something here. Unfortunately, however, dog toy safety standards don't exist anywhere globally. At the same time, chewy toys are crucial for your dog's 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 is 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 pup's development? Unfortunately, that has not been researched adequately.

We think it's better to be safe than sorry.

Let's look at 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 colourful dog harnesses and collars, the dyes contact the skin and are 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 release them into the environment. The contaminated water has been linked to growth reduction, death in marine life and reduced plant productivity. Ultimately, nothing that helps to reduce a carbon paw print.

It's safer to choose a natural pet product or natural materials. Hemp is excellent, as it's not treated heavily. Many dog rope toys are made from hemp or cotton.

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 animal's skin. Sometimes they are coated with chemicals to convey a flavour or colour. Either way, any chemical preservative should be avoided.

Choose a natural material, like jute, hemp or organic cotton. These are usually untreated natural fibres.

Size matters

It's a nightmare scenario for every dog owner. Unfortunately, your dog has swallowed a smaller toy by accident; it's always important to supervise your dog whenever they're playing with a toy. The second important and admittedly obvious thing is not buying toys that are too small or too big for your dog.

A small toy can be swallowed accidentally, while a too big toy can strain your dog's jaw. So if you leave your dog alone with a chew toy in the crate, make sure it's as safe as possible.


When selecting chewy toys for our dog, it's crucial to look out for tooth friendly toys. A dog's enamel is thinner than humans; hence, it needs protection. 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, 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 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 have ever had a root abscess personally, you can imagine the extreme pain that it can cause.