Toys are a great tool for every dog owner to have and the designs available have come a long way. Toys have numerous benefits such as preventing boredom, aiding in the development of physical strength and challenging or stimulating the cognitive function of dogs. Some toys are even designed to clean your dog’s teeth during play, which just goes to show how innovative the dog industry has become with the use of toys.
However, whether you are a veteran or new dog owner, you should understand that not all dog toys are made the same. Some toys are meant to provide comfort and cuddles while others are meant for some rough play which means the materials used should fulfil the purpose of the toy.
The materials used to make dog toys should be chosen cautiously as they could easily affect your dog’s health and also leave a damaging impact on our environment. In this article, we explain how this occurs and what to look out for in order to avoid harm to the environment or your furry friend.
What is sustainability?
Let us start by looking into what makes any material environmental friendly. For a product to be termed environmental or eco-friendly, the sourcing of materials and the actual production needs to be analyzed. A term used to simplify this is “sustainability” which means that sourcing and production of a toy utilizes natural resources without depleting or driving them to extinction. The extraction or even the usage of the toy should not affect the health and well-being of other animals, plants or humans.
It is important we highlight that a product cannot be 100% sustainable. Most consumers have become privy to the fact that we need to go the extra mile in taking care of the environment and as a result are looking for products that are considered “sustainable”.
This has led to most manufacturers labelling their products as eco-friendly with some even claiming the product is 100% eco-friendly. While this could be true to some extent, there are some factors that take away from that 100%. The materials or the product itself for example might be transported from one area to another which means that there is a carbon footprint being left behind from the vehicle or plane.
Since it is difficult to be 100% sustainable, what matters most is we are making a conscious effort to care for the environment and if we utilize natural resources we ensure they are being sourced responsibly, so we leave as little damage to our planet as possible.
How Different Materials Impact Your Dogs Health
As mentioned earlier, the material used to produce your dog toy could be impactful to not only the planet but your dog’s health. We should therefore go for materials that provide our furry friends with the benefits dog toys present but at the same time, the health and longevity of the dog are not compromised.
Let us take a look at the different materials typically used, their impact on your dog’s health and if there are suitable alternatives or more sustainable means of producing them.
Plastic Dog Toys
Plastic is a widely used material all over the globe and the issue with plastic is over 40% of it is designed for single use. This means that there is a lot of plastic waste out there. The statistics reveal that there is nearly 8 million tons of waste produced each year and this mostly ends up in oceans. The implications are drastic effects on marine life and some of this water is consumed by humans as well which means our health is at risk too.
Dogs tend to put a lot of stuff in their mouths and toys are not left out. If the toy is made out of plastic material, then your dog could be consuming a lot of toxins that are harmful to his or her health. One chemical used in the production of plastic is Bisphenol or BPA. The chemical is still undergoing more research but at the moment, there is conclusive evidence that BPA not only affects dogs but humans too.
BPA in dog toys or accessories is linked to reproductive health issues for the dog. BPA often leaks into stored food or into your dog’s mouth as it chews the plastic. Preventing further leakage calls for swapping plastic dog containers with glass jars and even feeding your dog from a bowl made from bamboo. As for the toy, if you can avoid plastic then do so but if choose to use plastic, choose a toy that is not made from plastic alone.
Beco pets for example have Rough and Tough Turtles which are made from recycled plastic. The toys have seams and are reinforced with layers of cloth that cover the plastic up. This not only makes the toy more durable and hard-wearing for an aggressive dog but also prevents your dog from coming into direct contact with the plastic as it chews or wrestles with the toy.
The cloth also protect your dog’s teeth and gums because the constant chewing on hard plastic could wear down your dog’s dental health. They also make it difficult to swallow as this could lead to digestive issues or even choking
On top of that, utilising recycled plastic is a great effort towards preventing tons of waste from ending up in oceans or landfills.
Rubber Dog Toys
Rubber is another material that is used in the manufacture of dog toys. While effects might not be as drastic and vets have successfully found cures for rubber related allergies, it is best to keep your dog safe and healthy. The rubber variant used could be the one having an effect on your dog.
Rubber plants such as the Indian Rubber plant or Ficus Benjamina could have some effects on your dog’s health. Your dog could present symptoms such as skin dermatitis, vomiting, drooling and sometimes even depression. Another variant that might have toxic properties is the Japanese Rubber plant or Crassula Argentea.
Natural rubber is the most suitable alternative as it does not leave any toxins in your furry friend. One variant which has non-toxic properties is the American Rubber Plant or Peperomia Obtusifolia.
Equipped with this information, you will be knowledgeable on how to choose the best rubber toys made from a rubber variant that keeps your furry friend toxin-free. Rubber toys are really great as their strength and elasticity make them durable.
The beauty of natural rubber is it does not involve the cutting down of any trees which means that no deforestation takes place. Rubber is sourced by tapping rubber trees for their sap (latex). When done responsibly, dog toys made from rubber can be considered sustainable dog toys, therefore the sourcing method is another factor to look into, when considering the environment and our dog’s health.
Hemp Dog Toys
Hemp is a material used to make rope toys which are a really good option for your dog. Rope is mostly sourced from natural products such as sisal or hemp and they do not leave any toxins behind. The problem with rope however is the shredding that takes place as a dog chews and when ingested things could get a little tricky.
Rope made just from hemp rarely has this issue, as they although the dog ingests the hemp, it breaks up into tiny pieces which go straight through the dog, without getting stuck and causing any issues.
We recommend hemp as a sustainable option, for its dense growth which frees up arable land for other crops. Hemp also grows freely and does not require any pesticides. This means the soil maintains its natural properties and your dog does not suffer any negative implications from pesticides.
Hemp is also reasonable tough and can act as a natural toothbrush for your dog. The more your furry friend pores its teeth through the rope the cleaner they become.
Playtime is important for your dog’s wellbeing and throwing a dog toy in makes the experience even better. We hope that you can now choose toys that have been sourced and manufactured in a way that does little to no damage to the environment.
Hopefully, you are also now more aware of health implications that arise from the use of certain materials in dog toys and how you can either prevent or mitigate the risks by using suitable variations that are toxin-free.
Beco Pets is a good starting point as their toys are not only environmentally sustainable but their creative designs will drive your dog wild with excitement. They also provide accessories and food which are sustainable, like compostable dog poo bags or their dog food.
About Beco Pets
“Since 2009 we’ve been on a mission to create the best possible products for cats and dogs, whilst doing as little harm to the environment as possible.
We’ve come a long way, but there’s lots more we want to achieve. With environmental pressures greater than ever and the prospect of more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, as humans and pet owners, we need to act now – before it’s too late.”