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Are Dog Toys Made In China Dangerous

Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Published on
Friday 24 December 2021
Last updated on
Friday 6 January 2023
china made toys
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Questions about the safety of dog toys are on the rise. You have probably read scary reports of toxins found in dog toys, or questionable manufacturing processes for your pup’s toys. But, regardless of where your pet’s toys come from, one glaring issue remains clear – nobody in the USA is regulating dog toys! So, are dog toys made in China dangerous?

When asking if China-made dog toys are dangerous, there’s a much bigger picture at play to consider. Right now, there are no guidelines for which chemicals can be in your dog’s toys, and nobody knows when exactly a harmful chemical becomes toxic to our furry friends. Without any baseline or regulations, it can be difficult to outright say that USA-made toys are inherently safer, unlike foreign dog foods which are more closely monitored.

The Importance of Durable Dog Toys

Playing with dog toys provides mental and physical stimulation for our furry friends. For high-energy breeds, toys are useful tools for keeping them active and to allow them to burn off their energy. Throwing toys are great for these dogs! Also, dog toys are great tools for training. Not all dogs work for treats and some would much rather work for a favorite toy or game. Lastly, dog toys provide outlets for natural chewing behaviors. This is particularly important when it comes to teething puppies. As teething is uncomfortable for puppies, your pup might seek relief by chewing things around the house. So, a good selection of appropriate chew toys is a great way at helping your fur baby through this period.

dog toys importance
Bored dogs can become extremely destructive.

Are Dog Toys Made In China Dangerous

Keep in mind that there are no official safety standards for harmful chemicals in pet toys, and experts disagree about how much it takes for each one to become toxic to dogs.

The USA has not taken a firm standpoint on its own chemical policies, leaving many concerned pet parents searching for clear information on which chemicals are harmful to our pets, and how to avoid them.

To make things more difficult, manufacturers do not have to disclose on the label when they use a harmful chemical in your dog’s toys. This can make finding this information more difficult.

Harmful Chemicals

Regardless of where dog toys are made, they might contain the following compounds: PVC (polyvinyl chloride), phthalates, BPA, lead, chromium, melamine, arsenic, bromine, or formaldehyde. This is because there are no standards to regulate how much, and whether it’s legal to, use these things in our pet’s toys.

  • PVC: Ingredients that soften PVC may be harmful to dogs
  • Phthalates: May cause liver and kidney damage over time
  • BPA: May disrupt the gut microbiome and metabolism
  • Lead: Can damage multiple organs and cause lead poisoning
  • Chromium: High levels could be toxic to dogs
  • Arsenic: Can cause vomiting and loss of consciousness
  • Bromine: Can cause digestive upsets
  • Formaldehyde: Can cause respiratory and digestive irritation

The best way to check if a dog toy is free from chemicals is to contact the manufacturer! What materials do they use to make their toys, inside and out? Do they do third-party safety testing to check for chemicals? Where do they make the toys? If they are made outside of the USA, how do they maintain high-quality standards?

Testing for Chemicals

Healthy Stuff offers a convenient list of pet products that they have tested for harmful ingredients, and some of the findings are curious. KONG toys are famously made in the USA, but Kong Binkie still contained 4.823 PPM arsenic, and Kong Naturals Straw Ball contained 94.580PPM bromine in its feathers and 267.828PPM bromine in its straw as of 2009. From another USA manufacturer, Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude contained 3.300ppm arsenic in 2008, similar to the Twist ‘n Treat, which contained 3.783ppm arsenic. These findings are not to say that no dog toys can be trusted – quite the opposite. The fact that these tests are from several years ago means that their practices may have since improved.

These results do show a trend, though – toys made in China, according to the site, do contain more of these harmful ingredients. And, interestingly, KONG outsources just three of its toys to China: one of them, the Kong Wet Wubba contains 3.874PPM arsenic and 11.271PPM lead as of 2009. KONG claims to test all of its products in independent laboratories. Perhaps one of the most infamous examples of toxic pet toys is the humble tennis ball. While a seemingly completely harmless toy, some pet tennis balls made in China have been shown to contain more than 300ppm of lead.


The American Pet Products Association (APPA) states that its members are “vigilant” about the safety of dog toys. Many of its members adopt their own informal chemical standards – however, this can cause issues when one company has one standard, and another retailer has another. There is discussion in the pet toy industry about whether these standards are appropriate, as there is currently no evidence to suggest that pet toys have caused direct harm to our furry friends. Some argue that going by the standard for children’s toys is enough, as we do not have a baseline for dogs.

By focusing on the manufacturer country as the main issue, pet parents may miss the bigger picture at play. The fact is, toxic product recalls happen in the USA, too, even if to a lesser extent. And, not all companies are prepared to manufacture their toys within the USA. Oftentimes, pet toys are outsourced to China because the market demands pricing that is unattainable when manufacturing within the USA. So what is being done right now?

Until the industry takes on some regulations, some companies are taking matters into their own hands. Several pet toy manufacturers in the USA specifically make toys that are free from chemicals. They also send their toys for independent laboratory testing. Goughnuts, Planet Dog, KONG, and West Paw, Inc. are just a few examples of US manufacturers of dog toys that independently test their dog toys.

Are Chinese Made Dog Toys Dangerous – FAQs

Have any more questions or concerns about dog toys made in China? Feel free to check our Frequently Asked Questions for more details. If in doubt about your dog’s health, always ask your vet for advice.

What makes a toy dangerous?

From the material to the size, several things can make a dog toy dangerous. Among the most common hazards are choking and intestinal obstructions. Small pieces of your dog’s toy may be eaten, whether it be intentionally or accidentally. Any chemicals on your dog’s toys might also be a risk to them, but how hazardous this is is not yet clear. Your dog might also choke on their toy if the toy is too small for them. Be sure to pick a toy that they cannot easily swallow when chewing!

What does it mean when a dog toy is BPA free?

BPA stands for bisphenol-A. It’s an industrial chemical found in plastics and resins that make our water bottles and food containers. BPA is also found coating the inside of metal products like food cans and bottle tops. The FDA currently assures that BPA is safe at low levels. However, there is a possible link between BPA and diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Although there is less research on BPA’s effects on pets, a study in 2013 found that many dog toys contain BPA that can leach out of plastic. Because there is a lot that we don’t know about BPA, it’s safest to avoid it where possible.

What dog toys does my dog need?

Many companion dogs benefit from having a range of toys to play with. These range from training toys, to treat-dispensing toys, to stimulating dog toys. These toys provide mental stimulation to your pup, helping to calm them and keep them entertained through the day.

Can dog toys make dogs sick?

To date, there has not been a clear link between dog toys and dogs becoming sick. However, it’s thought that long-term exposure to harmful chemicals could cause problems for dogs. Until a clear link is made, it is unlikely that any action will be taken to regulate harmful chemicals in dog toys. If you suspect problems with a toy and your dog seems unwell, bring them to your vet right away. You can also ask the toy’s manufacturer about their use of PCV, phthalates, BPA, lead, chromium, arsenic, and bromine.

So, are dog toys made in China dangerous? Some of them certainly could be. However, no dogs, to date, have fallen ill after playing with dog toys made in China. As well as this, the lack of pet toy regulation in the USA allows manufacturers within the USA to use potentially harmful chemicals as they please. The best way to check if a dog toy is free from chemicals is to contact the manufacturer to ask about their materials and quality control.

One comment on “Are Dog Toys Made In China Dangerous”

  1. Got Omnia

    I didn’t know how to check if the toys are suitable for my dogs or not until I read this post. Great information!

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