THE BLOG
02/27/2014 03:55 pm ET | Updated Apr 29, 2014

Are Your Pet's Toys Toxic?

According to a recent study, certain types of toys can be toxic to your pet.

Philip Smith, co-author of the study and an associate professor at Texas Tech University, also raises, trains and hunts with Labrador Retrievers.

Smith and his colleague, Kimberly Wooten, suspected that certain types of toys, including "bumpers" or fetching batons that are used to teach dogs to retrieve, might contain toxins that could leak into the mouths and bodies of dogs.

In a press release, Smith explained that:

In the process of training a lab, you do a lot of work with these plastic bumpers. I have a lot of bumpers in my garage, and they spend a lot of time in the mouths of my retrievers. Well, lots of attention has been given to chemicals in plastics lately regarding their effects on humans. Since we all care about our dogs, and we want them to be as healthy and smart and well-behaved as possible, we decided to look into this.

Chemicals called phthalates as well as bisphenol A (BPA) are used in plastics manufacturing to provide elasticity to products. These substances are known endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen or act as anti-androgens.

Watch Out for Aging, Weathered Toys

The study involved creating "faux" dog saliva and also simulated chewing action. The chewing was accomplished by squeezing the toys with salad tongs. Some of the toys were also left outside in the elements to see if older toys leached more chemicals.

We found that aging or weathering the toys increased concentrations of BPA and phthalates," Smith said. "The toys had lower concentrations of phthalates than the bumpers, so that's good news. But they also had some other chemicals that mimicked estrogen. We need to find out what those are.

According to Wooten, BPA and phthalates can impact a developing fetus and have lifelong effects on the offspring of lab animals. And the U.S. government banned the use of BPA in baby bottles last year.

Wooten said:

The interaction of pet health and environmental chemicals is understudied ... What may be a safe dose for one species isn't always a good measure for another species. But the amount of BPA and phthalates we found from the bumpers would be considered on the high end of what you might find in children's toys.

Finding Safer Toys for Your Pet

Look for toys labeled "BPA Free" or made in the U.S. from 100 percent natural rubber.

Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at: MercolaHealthyPets.com.

Her goal is to help you create wellness in order to prevent illness in the lives of your pets. This proactive approach seeks to save you and your pet from unnecessary stress and suffering by identifying and removing health obstacles even before disease occurs. Unfortunately, most veterinarians in the United States are trained to be reactive. They wait for symptoms to occur, and often treat those symptoms without addressing the root cause.

By reading Dr. Becker's information, you'll learn how to make impactful, consistent lifestyle choices to improve your pet's quality of life.