Pet Owner Tests 24 Chinese-Made Dog Toys For Lead

Wal-Mart toyNancy, an Illinois pet owner, wanted to know how safe the chew toys her Shelties played with were.

She hired an Illinois Department of Agriculture laboratory to test 24 Chinese-made dog toys for lead.

Nancy became concerned for her pets’ health after the pet food recalls. She also noticed that all of her dogs’ toys were all made in China. When she went to Petco and PetSmart, she could only find one toy in both stores that was not made in China.

“I was doing this personally for the safety of my dogs and only tested for lead because that’s what they’re finding in the toys from China,” she said.

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture lab, all 24 toys had lead levels that were within Illinois’s acceptable limits for lead paint in children’s toys. The lab also stated that the lead levels were below the 600 parts per million level that is accepted by federal law for lead paint in children’s toys.

The highest levels of lead, 335.7 parts per million, were found in a PetSmart tennis ball. A Hertz Rubber Percival Platypus had the lowest levels of lead — 0.02 parts per million.

Dr. Gene Niles, who is the lab director and a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, said: “These are all within the acceptable limits for lead content in children’s toys in Illinois. There are no levels for lead content in pet toys. Are these numbers high or low? All I can tell you is that in Illinois, the state allows up to 600 parts per million for lead in kid’s toys and these are all within that guideline.”

But the lead levels found in the PetSmart tennis ball are 335 times higher than the amount Expertox, a Texas, lab found in one of the Wal-Mart pet toys they tested.

A latex dog toy that looks like a green monster was found to have lead levels of 907.4 micrograms per kilograms.

“That’s almost one part per million,” said ExperTox’s director and forensic toxicologist Dr. Ernest Lykissa, Ph.D. “With that kind of concentration, if a dog is chewing on it or licking it, he’s getting a good source of lead.”

Expertox’s lab manager said that the levels found in the PetSmart tennis ball are not safe. She said that those levels were higher than in the green monster toy, and that the 335.7 parts per million of lead found in the tennis ball is not a safe level for pets.

But Dr. Niles, at the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s lab, disagreed with Expertox. He said that one part per million of lead should not pose a health risk to pets.

“That’s my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Illinois Department of Agriculture,” he said. “You’d find very few things that you would let anybody play with if that (one part per million) was your benchmark.”

in response to the Illinois lab findings, PetSmart said their products are safe and they routinely test their products for lead and other toxins. A company spokesman said PetSmart products meet safety and quality standards and protocols that are based on federal, state, institution, and the company’s own standards.

The company spokesman also said Expertox using one part per million as a safety measure for toxins levels in pet toys is not fair.

“The terms ‘high’ and ‘elevated’ are relative terms and must be used carefully and given proper context to avoid confusion and alarm,” he said. “It’s not fair to pit a (forensic) toxicologist against a veterinary toxicologist on this issue. I don’t think he (Dr. Lykissa) has a leg to stand on. He’s not a veterinary toxicologist and has no point of reference when he talks about elevated levels. Elevated against what? I don’t think his results bring any value to this discussion. And his comments will not change anything we’re doing. To our knowledge, we are not selling any products that have compounds that have tested above levels of toxicity established by the various entities named above and are not posing any health threat to pets or humans.”

Despite the difference in opinions on what is considered safe and what is not, the pet industry has agreed that there needs to be regulations on pet toys and national acceptable standards for lead and other toxins in pet toys need to be established.

Until that happens, the president of the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association said members of the organization will be triple-checking and testing their products.

Meanwhile, Nancy said she is glad that the lab found that her dogs’ toys were deemed to be safe. However, she is a bit troubled that she can’t find any pet toys made in the United States.

Source: ConsumerAffairs

(Thanks menusux)

28 thoughts on “Pet Owner Tests 24 Chinese-Made Dog Toys For Lead

  1. So why are we still using lead in toys? And does anyone know why lead is used?

    So are we now going to have to run a battery of tests on animals to see what is an acceptable level of lead exposure? Just don’t use the lead!

    Are the Kong Wubba’s okay? I know my dog loves them plus some blue balls with rubber things all over it – he has it in his mouth 24 x 7 it seems like.



  2. We can now rank accumulation right up there with dilution. Saw that one coming, though.

    PetSmart, what specific guidelines are you using? Who set the standards? What products do you test? Do those tests reflect a 10 Lb dog chewing or ingesting toys with your “safe” limit” over a period of 2 months, 2 years, a standard lifetime? What about a 5lb cat?

    Not to nit-pick, but if the companies you buy from are so reliable, why do you have to test at all?

    If you put a big sign in the toy department that says “toxin-free toys”, and only carry 15 of them, do you think no one will buy them?

  3. Robert, i have no idea why lead exists in the toys. it seems like they should be able to create a lead free production process in this day and age. i also wondered about testing for acceptable levels. how do they also decide on the number? dogs range in weight from a couple of pounds to over 100! will these be one size fits all (not!) levels? and is that how they are for children’s toys?!

  4. Not to nit-pick, but if the companies you buy from are so reliable, why do you have to test at all?

    Using what you believe are reliable companies, and then testing to be sure that they really are delivering what you asked for, is the safe, conservative path. You never 100% rely on things getting done right, because there’s always a first time for accident, error, or outright corruption.

    Heck, Menu Foods may have believed they were buying real, human-grade wheat gluten–but they didn’t check, and pets died. If Petsmart’s process is what they say it is, they should be praised for that, not beat up for it.

    The question of whether we know what’s a safe level of lead for dogs or cats, and for what sizes of dogs or cats, and over what periods of time, is a separate issue.

  5. Lis says: >

    Agreed. But does PetSmart test all of their pet food and treats as well, or do they rely on the manufacturer? Do they test before buying a product and leave it at that, or do they randomly sample ALL of their products on a
    continuing basis?

    Does this mean small mom and pop shops should test all their products?
    Where’s the line? It’s time someone figured out the answer to that one.

  6. If the top link is current, which I suspect it is this was there:

    “The Consumer Product Safety Commission staff-recommended limit for lead in vinyl is 200 ppm. Cadmium is not regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Proposition 65 regulates cadmium at one-tenth the level set for lead.”

    So then that would mean that the 600 ppm is the standard for lead paint and 200 ppm is the standard for vinyl. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but that is what I am reading here. Maybe someone can come up with documentation of this at the CPSC website?

  7. Could it be that there is lead not only in the paint on the toys but also in the vinyl, plastic, rubber? If they are only testing the paint I would be interested in seeing tests on the vinyl-plastic also.

  8. Human laboratories (for human blood testing) is regulated by a Government agency called “CLEA: Procedures and techniques for testing are standardized by clea. Why can’t testing be standardized for all of the components that are being tested in animal products.?
    It appears that EXTPERTOX has very “sensiitive” testing for contaminants.—where the FDA doesn’t pick up the contaminants, nor does XYZ laboratory. I really believe that EXPERTOX has provided true and valid results because they are an independent facility that relies on valid and accurate testing procedures and results.
    I think that the labortaories techniques and methods for testing should have some “standards” so that all results can be interpreted with equal validity.
    Have I explained myself?

  9. According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture lab, all 24 toys had lead levels that were within Illinois’s acceptable limits for lead paint in children’s toys. The lab also stated that the lead levels were below the 600 parts per million level that is accepted by federal law for lead paint in children’s toys.

    Gee,..think i will go naw on one myself tonight! Little lead wont hurt huh?

    Dr. Gene Niles, how about you? Would you give one of these toys to your kid?


  10. Skittles, yeah, the combination of materials AND chemicals used.

    In regard to jerky strips, a tip off might be chemicals used for leather processing.

  11. Too bad for Nancy’s pups that she thinks any lead or heavy metals are “safe”. Let’s see, safe enough for children so must be safe enough for pets? are these people crazy? pets and kids put things in their mouths, not just one item once but hundreds of toys, hundreds of times. Y’all are killing your pets and kids and all you can say is “they told us it was ok”. Don’t y’all have a mind of your own, can’t you think for yourself? Is everybody in America as poorly educated as George Bush? Y’all deserve him and what you have reaped as a consequence.

  12. If we found lead in baby bibs…who would ever think to have their baby’s bibs investigated for safety?
    I worry that the colors put into latex pet toys are lead-based? or in the dyes in the fabrics used to make stuffed pet toys?
    As long as it is made in China, we need to cast suspicion

  13. My lead testing kit came in the mail today, so I will be doing some of my own tests tonight on cat food dishes and toys. I’ll let you know the results.

  14. The article concludes, “she is a bit troubled that she can’t find any pet toys made in the United States.”

    And she WON’T find any pet toys made in the USA because consumers will not pay the high prices US manufacturers are forced to charge for their products. (Thank you, Wal-Mart.) Don’t forget, foreign companies don’t pay health benefits, unemployment benefits, don’t provide insurance for their workers, don’t pay federal, local and state taxes. Foreign companies don’t have severe restrictions placed on them by workers unions, OSHA, FDA, EPA, you name it. What’s more – US companies are charged export taxes to sell overseas – there are NO import taxes on foreign made products brought to the USA.

  15. I recently purchased a two small latex toys from a large pet store. I washed them off and left them to dry. When dry, they had lost their color and I even chose light colors. I just cannot believe that US Manufacturers advertise they are American Companies but export their merchandise to be manufactured elsewhere.

    There are American Made toys but alot of them seem to be for larger pets. If anyone has resources for smaller pet toys “MADE In the USA” please let me know! Thankyou…….

  16. Here are the results from my lead test kit. The kit is supposed to detect lead on surfaces where the concentrations are 1 ug or more. I’m not sure what this means but it says if its below this amount the object should be “safe.”

    I tested 8 food/toy objects from a variety of stores/manufactuerers. The toys I tested are ones my cats like best – all test samples were disgarded cause who knows what’s in the test solution (ceramics will be washed in dishwasher with hot rinse/dry cycle).

    Small ceramic plate from PetCo (says made in China)
    Deep ceramic dish from PetCo (no country of origin)
    Small ceramic dish from PetSmart (says made in China)
    Avg ceramic dish from PetSmart (no country of origin)

    Multipet Crinkle Catnip Balls, ordered online – (says made in China)
    Spot Ethical Spotnips (plastic slinkies) from Private pet store – (says made in China
    PetSmart Pet Holiday toy – fluffy blob with feather tail (says made in China)
    Petking Cat Toy – sponge balls (made in China)

    All tests came out NEGATIVE! The kit comes with lead coated paper so if you get a negative result you can confirm that the swabs are working properly.

    I don’t really know whether this is good or not because I don’t know the sensitivity of the test. But it is better than getting 8 positive results.

  17. Don’t matter. I threw my babies’ toys away. I will not take any chances. I heard of this problem on this website only, never on the news. These dangerous recalls are getting so numerous, they are not even considered news anymore. Everyone can argue about how many millionths is safe if they want to, but with our technology, we should be able to make safe toys. And… has anyone aske the question: Does safe for children = safe for animals, of all sizes?

  18. Thank you so much for doing this test. I have been wondering if they were safe as well. I have bought a few toys from a company called WEST PAW and they are all made here in the USA. Its a shame we cannot find any products produced by our own people. My question is I understand they are within limits for the childrens toys but dogs do nothing but eat there toys completely that is the sole purpose. Not to just play with them so if children did nothing but eat the toys would they re consider the lead amounts?

    Thanks again,


  19. We’ve been pretty concerned about our dog. He has valley fever so he is on medications and special diets to combat the ill effects of the VF and the medications too. We started noticing that he spends about 60% of his time chewing on these chew toys. They lose their color after a while and we couldn’t help but wonder how good it was that this stuff is seeping into his system. Long story short, we found some great and durable chewable dog toys that are made in the usa by Stuffington Bear Factory. After some time, he has perked up a bit and I think it’s because he is ingesting a lot less garbage from the old dog toys. We found them at, they manufacture the toys in America using American materials too. One thing I’m having trouble finding are dog dishes made in the usa.

  20. I have ALWAYS wondered about this topic…. My dog will chew and chew on those “MADE in China” toys…… that paint is in our dog’s mouth MUCH longer than a baby or toddler would………SO ….to me this seems more dangerous?? right???

  21. My Westie mix kept getting sick and throwing up. He became sicker when our neighbor gave us his dog’s toys. We thought he wasn’t going to make it he was so sick. So we thought about what we gave him differently. We got rid of all the toys made in China and he has not got sick since.

  22. My 10 lb 3 year old has had toys made by Petking all his life, he carries one in his mouth all the time, tears them up and takes the nois maker out. We have recently had a blood test from him and his liver enzymes are at 400 (very High). We have been trying to determine what could have caused this problem. I have taken the toys away because they are the only thing that he has had constant exposure for long periods of time.
    I have been trying to find lead testing kits to see if the toys (made in China) are the cause. Also tried the Petking website to see if they had any comments so far no luck. Has anyone out there got any comments?

  23. Our Shih-Tzu is a little over a year old and was given a soft latex green frog which he loved. He would lie around in a daze while holding the frog in his mouth, drooling all the while. We bought several because he loved it so much, but soon noticed that our smart little pup changed, becoming nervous and easily confused. We tried to find an explanation and eliminated any possibility including getting rid of the frogs (we saved one for testing, if necessary). Yes, they were “made in China”.
    We brought this issue to our vet and since we had not noticed any other symptoms (nausea, vomiting, etc.), she wasn’t concerned. But, if the change in Grizz was caused by lead, etc., is there anything we can do to reverse this?


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