Safe Dog Chew Toys That Are Natural And Long-Lasting

Learn how to find safe dog chew toys for your pup. Toys made out of these natural materials are healthy, sustainable, and long-lasting. Plus, check out our growing list of recommendations!

three safe eco-friendly dog chew toys sitting next to old wheel

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Safety Standards for Dog Toys

The dog toy industry is massive, with billions of dollars spent annually. Surprisingly and unfortunately, however, there are no international safety standards for pet products, making the search for safe dog chew toys more difficult than necessary.

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title of safe dog chew toys with image of mini dapple dachshund dog chewing a olive wood dog toy

In the United States, there are no specific regulations for dog toys, although there are general toy safety standards under the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that some manufacturers may follow. And the FDA actually excludes pet accessories like toys, beds, and crates from any standard.

Similarly, in the European Union, there are no specific guidelines for pet products, though they are assumed to fall under the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD).

As of the end of 2022, there is now an effort from ASTM International’s consumer products committee to establish standards for certain pet products, including best practice design safety.

ASTM is recognized as a trusted organization that plays a crucial role in promoting standardization, safety, and quality assurance across numerous industries, so this is a step in a very positive direction.

However, what exactly will be included, when these standards will be put in place, and how they will be enforced is still TBD.

So what does this all mean and does it actually matter?

mini dapple dachshund dog chewing a olive wood dog toy

The Hidden Dangers

Today, dog toys, including ones made for chewing, can be made without regard for your pet’s safety or the planet’s health. And some of the materials used are quite shocking, as studies have shown they can cause severe health issues.

What’s more, many of these toxic substances leach into the environment, prolonging their negative impact.

Here are some common and dangerous substances that can all too easily make your way into your pet’s playtime toy. 

BPA

BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical often used in the production of plastics and resins. It started to gain notoriety in 2008 when researchers published studies detailing its toxic effects on humans and other animals. 

Today, in numerous countries, this chemical is banned for use in products that come in contact with food. And many food-related human products, such as water bottles, are specifically marketed as BPA-free. With that said, it is still common in everyday household items.

And this chemical also makes its way into all sorts of pet products. This is quite concerning, as BPA can leach into a dog’s mouth while, for example, they are chewing on a plastic toy.

BPA is an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to various health issues in both pets and humans. This includes obesity, reproductive disorders, neurologic problems, and cancer. 

PVC

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is one of the most widely used types of plastic in the world. Among many other things, it is also used to make dog toys.

It often contains harmful additives like phthalates and lead. As a result, PVC is linked to many unpleasant health issues. It can cause damage to your pet’s liver, kidneys, and lungs. Exposure can also lead to cancer, immune issues, and hormone disruption.

Greenpeace has dubbed PVC “The Poison Plastic” as unfortunately, its presence is not limited to the products it creates. During its entire lifecycle, from production to use to disposal, toxic chemicals are released into the environment. 

Phthalates

Phthalates are chemicals used to increase the flexibility of plastics and can be found in vinyl and rubber toys. Exposure can occur through ingestion, which is most common in dogs, as well as inhalation and absorption through the skin.

Like BPA, phthalates are classified as an endocrine disruptor, and studies have linked this chemical with numerous health issues in both humans and pets. The long list of issues includes interference with hormone function, reproductive disorders, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and even different types of cancer. 

store inventory of cheap and unsafe dog toys

Lead

A toxic heavy metal, lead can be present in paints, dyes, and pigments used in toys. While lead-based paint is no longer used in the United States or Europe, it is still present in numerous countries, including those that manufacture dog toys.

Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to lead poisoning. When ingested, lead can cause serious health problems for your pup, including neurological damage and kidney disease. Other symptoms include stomach pain, vomiting, tremors, and blindness. 

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a chemical used in some adhesives and glues in the manufacturing of toys, as well as a coating to make toys more durable, including those for dogs. Most commonly, however, it is found in rawhide and other chew treats as a preservative.

It is a known carcinogen, with prolonged exposure leading to nasal tumors, leukemia, and other types of cancers. It can also cause respiratory irritation.

Flame Retardants

Some dog toys, especially those with foam padding, may contain flame retardants (e.g. bromine, melamine). While live-saving in some applications (like preventing the spread of a fire), there are severe health and environmental consequences to the use of these chemicals. And, certainly, they were not made to be ingested.

Flame retardants have been linked to various health issues, including brain damage, liver disease, and thyroid disease. They are especially concerning when used in dog toys that are frequently chewed or even ingested.

Safe Dog Chew Toy Options

Unfortunately, the list of possible toxic materials that can make their way into dog toys does not end with my list above. But awareness is a great starting point.

And now that you know a bit more about the dangers, let’s explore some natural, safe dog chew toys that Phoebe, Franklin, and Froda have personally tested.

Olive Wood

Olive wood is a natural and durable material that makes for excellent dog toys. It is non-toxic, safe for chewing, and does not contain chemicals, preservatives, or other harmful additives.

To ensure an optimal chewing and playing experience, olive wood chew toys are cut and polished along the edges. The wood is splinter-resistant, providing a safe chewing option for dogs of all sizes.

Not only is olive wood non-toxic, but it can also make a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. It is rich in fiber and minerals like iron and magnesium.

Olive wood chew toys also help in the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums, aiding in the elimination of tartar and bad breath.

And, just as importantly, this type of chew toy is sustainable. The wood comes from the necessary pruning of olive trees, a renewable resource. 

mini dapple dachshund dog chewing a olive wood dog toy
eco friendly olive wood dog chew toy on pile of wood
mixed breed dog chewing a olive wood dog toy

Natural Resin

Natural resins are derived from plants, like pine trees, making this material a safe and non-toxic option for dog toys.

Toys can be wholly made of resin, or the resin can also be used as a binding agent to hold together different natural fibers and other organic materials.

The use of natural resin ensures that a toy is free from harmful dyes and toxic materials. Unlike numerous other materials used in dog toys, there is no risk that resin dog toys will cause poisoning and other health issues, even as the toy wears with use and age.

Additionally, the use of natural resin in dog toys supports a more sustainable and circular economy. As they are derived from plant-based materials, these resins can be broken down and returned to nature through composting or other environmentally friendly disposal methods. 

natural resin dog chew toy sitting on rock next to purple flowers
mini dapple dachshund dog chewing a natural resin dog toy

Natural Nylon

Natural nylon, also known as bio-nylon or sustainable nylon, is a type of nylon made from renewable resources such as plant-based materials. I

t is a strong material that can be made into quite durable dog toys that won’t splinter, making it a great option for aggressive chewers.

In fact, the benefits of a natural nylon toy increase with use. As this material is chewed, the surface becomes textured and can help in cleaning your dog’s teeth, removing tartar, and promoting better oral health.

Natural nylon should not be confused with conventional nylon, which is derived from petrochemicals and contributes to the depletion of finite fossil fuel resources.   

mini dapple dachshund dog chewing natural nylon dog toy
natural nylon dog chew toy sitting in flowers

Finding a Safe Dog Chew Toy

There are multiple steps you can take to ensure you are protecting your pup and the planet when buying new dog chew toys. 

Go for Natural Materials

As discussed above, olive wood, natural resin, and natural nylon are great choices. In addition, natural rubber, organic cotton, and hemp are also generally safe and environmentally friendly.

four eco friendly pet products on display around succulent garden

Read Product Labels

Check the packaging or product description for any information about the materials used. Look for toys labeled as BPA-free, PVC-free, and made from safe, non-toxic materials. 

If there is no information about the materials used, proceed with extreme caution. Likely, the toy was cheaply made without any regard for safety standards.

Purchase from Trusted Sources

Buy dog toys from reputable pet stores, specialty pet shops, or established online retailers. These sources are more likely to carry products that meet safety standards.

Read more about the brand and take notice of what information they share (or don’t) on their website. Check customer reviews and ratings to gauge the toy’s safety and durability.

And check for recommendations here at The Green Pet Project. We will be continually researching companies and products to share with you all.

In general, be very cautious about purchasing dog toys from unknown or very cheap brands, as they likely cut corners on safety and quality.

Alternatively, companies that carry certifications like the ones below are making an effort to meet specific safety, ethical, and environmental standards.

sustainable company certification labels

Check for Small Parts

Ensure that the toy doesn’t have any small parts that could be a choking hazard for your dog. Select toys that are appropriate for your dog’s size and breed. In particular, toys that are too small may pose a choking risk for larger dogs.

Supervise Playtime

Monitor your dog during playtime with toys, especially if the toy is new or if your dog is an aggressive chewer. Regularly inspect toys for signs of wear and tear, and discard damaged toys to prevent any potential hazards.

Stay Informed About Recalls

Stay informed about toy recalls and safety alerts from regulatory agencies. In the US, you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for any dog toy recalls.

Safe Dog Chew Toy Recommendations

Below are a few options to get you started.

Several of the toys tested by Phoebe, Franklin, and Froda I can only find locally here in Barcelona. So I’m on the hunt to find even more safe and sustainable dog chew toys that are widely available to add to this list.

And if you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments!

 
10% Discount
 
  • 100% olive wood
  • 3 sizes
  • 10% off with code GREENPETPROJECT
  • 100% pre-consumer recycled cotton
  • Includes 6 toys
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United Kingdom
  • 100% reclaimed materials salvaged from the fashion industry
  • 3 colors / 2 sizes
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United States
10% Discount
  • 10% off with code GREENPETPROJECT
  • 100% pre-consumer recycled cotton
  • Includes 6 toys
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United Kingdom
  • 100% reclaimed materials salvaged from the fashion industry
  • 3 colors / 2 sizes
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United States
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Shop Smart, Play Safe

While it’s clear that not every dog toy stocked on a shelf is healthy for your pup, finding safe dog chew toys is indeed possible. There are many wonderful options available from sustainably-minded companies.

These natural, eco-friendly toys will likely be more expensive than some of the other options available. But toys from the natural materials discussed here are made to last longer, ultimately saving you money.

Speaking from experience, if you have a toy destroyer, those cheap stuffed toys might not even last a day.

Plus, you are investing in your pet’s safety and the future of our planet. A few extra dollars on a dog toy goes a long way.

two dogs on patio chewing safe and natural dog toys

And after you find your pup their new favorite and safe dog chew toys, make sure to have fun using them in some eco-friendly activities together.

FAQs: Safe Dog Chew Toys

What are some safe materials for dog chew toys?

Safe materials for dog chew toys include natural rubber, nylon, and durable fabrics like hemp or canvas. Look for toys made from non-toxic materials that are free from harmful chemicals.

How do I choose the right size chew toy for my dog?

Choose a chew toy that is appropriately sized for your dog’s breed and chewing habits. Avoid toys that are too small and could pose a choking hazard, or too large and difficult for your dog to chew comfortably.

How can I ensure that a chew toy is safe for my dog?

Look for chew toys that are labeled as pet-safe and made from high-quality, natural materials. Avoid toys with small parts that could break off and be swallowed, and regularly inspect toys for signs of wear and tear.

Are there any eco-friendly options for dog chew toys?

Yes, there are eco-friendly chew toy options available, such as toys made from sustainable materials like recycled rubber or natural hemp. These toys are not only safe for your dog but also better for the environment.

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title of safe dog chew toys that are natural and long-lasting with image of three safe eco-friendly dog chew toys sitting next to old wheel

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