Alert: October 16, 2009
1. Does Lead in Toys Pose a Danger to Pets?
Whether your pet prefers squeaky rubber squirrels, stiff rawhide bones or fuzzy mice, he or she undoubtedly loves to play with toys. But is the source of your dog's or cat’s merriment safe? Many common household products—including toys for children and pets—may contain trace amounts of lead and other toxins. In most cases, however, the levels of these ingredients in toys don’t pose a significant threat to your furry friend.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) reviewed 200,000 cases from the past two years and produced no examples of lead poisoning from pet toys. According to Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, ASPCA Vice President and Medical Director of the APCC, younger dogs, just like children, are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, but most studies reveal only tiny amounts of lead in pet toys—not a grave risk for acute or chronic lead poisoning in dogs.
“Just because it's 'detectable' doesn't necessarily make it hazardous,” says Dr. Gwaltney-Brant. “Even oxygen is toxic at the right concentration.”
And what about other types of treats such as rawhide bones? Like pet toys, rawhide chews can include trace amounts of pesky chemicals. Dr. Safdar Khan, Director of Toxicology at the ASPCA, believes many dog lovers would be surprised if they learned the true contents of their pets’ treats. But he also adds that pet parents would likely be surprised if they knew the complete ingredients of what they eat and drink, too.
The reality is that a dog is much more likely to suffer obstruction from a rawhide bone than poisoning from a hidden toxin. In general, the smaller the dog, the fewer rawhide treats he should receive, and only give your pet rawhides under a watchful eye. Remember, it’s always wise to supervise!
And lest you think we’re leaving out our feline fans, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when shopping for kitty’s favorite play things:
- The wand toy, often adorned with feathers, string or small stuffed toys, is ubiquitous. But take care with it, and watch for pieces of string or other components that might fall from the toy and get swallowed by your cat.
- Another popular treat for the kitty set is catnip. Word to the wise—some cats become very excited when smelling or eating it, so be careful about petting your cat until you know how she will respond.
- Please don’t let your cat play with rubber bands, paper clips or plastic bags. All can prove dangerous and a choking risk to our feline friends.
For more information about playing it safe with your pet, please visit APCC online.