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Avoid These Toxins Found in Common Pet Products
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Avoid These Toxins Found in Common Pet Products

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Mar 28, 2022

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If you're a pet parent, you do everything you can to keep your pal safe. After all, your best defense is a good offense. Learning what can harm your buddy is the best way to prevent illness or death from poisoning.

Many items can cause severe problems, from unscrupulous manufacturers to accidental ingestion. These are the most common offenders to look for when it comes to toxic materials in pet products.

1

Bromine

white puppy lying in the doggie bad inside the apartment chewing the toy Kosijerphotography / Getty Images

Bromine is a flame retardant often found in furniture foam. And while a pet can chew on a sofa or recliner to ingest the substance, a closer threat looms. Pet bed foam frequently contains bromine as well. If your fuzzy friend ingests this toxic compound, it can end up severely ill with pancreatitis, tremors, muscle spasms, and gastrointestinal issues. Is it a pain? Yes, but you should always read the label before buying a pet bed to ensure it doesn't contain bromine.

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2

PVC and phthalates

dog holding rubber toy alexei_tm / Getty Images

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and phthalates are two different toxins often found together in pet toys. A rigid product, PVC contains chlorine which will release itself over time. To soften this material, manufacturers add toxic chemicals known as phthalates. This produces an enticing rubberized feel. The more your animal plays with this toy; the more chemicals leak onto its skin and gums. Ingestion is inevitable and proves damaging to the kidneys and liver.

It's important to ensure that you steer clear of any products containing PVC or phthalates. Know what you're buying so you can choose a safe product. And as a helpful hint, phthalates have a pungent vinyl smell. A toy's scent alone will indicate if it contains phthalates.

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3

Flea treatments

person using anti-flea drops to a cat Vonschonertagen / Getty Images

Flea control is essential to many households. However, even natural chemicals can cause issues. What's even worse is that evidence of poisoning may not manifest itself at first. Instead, there might be a toxicity buildup over time, so you won't notice anything's wrong until late in the game. Especially in cats, essential oils, d-limonene, and pyrethrin are the biggest offenders. Electric flea traps are a wonderful option for any pet owner's home. They reduce active fleas and are safe for all animals. Diatomaceous earth is another great solution. It's non-toxic and kills a number of insects, including fleas, while also controlling rising populations. If you have a bad flea infestation, using traps and diatomaceous earth in tandem will dramatically decrease the problem.

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4

Lead

English cocker spaniel puppy eating dog food and drinking water from ceramic bowl Switlana Symonenko / Getty Images

Unfortunately, lead-contaminated water is still a problem, so be mindful of what your pet is drinking. Aside from this, lead is also a common material in pet products. Not only do some imported toys contain this toxin, but ceramic bowls may have it, too.

When purchasing products, choose quality over quantity to avoid organ-damaging lead poisoning in pets. Only buy reputable brands with a solid safety and customer satisfaction record.

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5

Formaldehyde

puppy chewing a rawhide bone yellowsarah / Getty Images

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. Nevertheless, many companies use it to preserve rawhide treats. If it doesn't outright cause cancer, formaldehyde can lead to digestive or respiratory issues. This may happen in a single high dose or a low-dose buildup over time. Keep your dog away from rawhide no matter how tempting it may be to buy.

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6

BPA

gray shorthair cat opening can with mouth Waitforlight / Getty Images

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used to make plastics. It's in many day-to-day items and often goes unnoticed. However, it can rear its head in odd places when it comes to animal products. For example, it's not an uncommon material in food can liners.

Always read the labels before buying canned items for your pet. BPA has the potential to cause problems with the endocrine system, so you should avoid it at all costs.

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7

Prescription medications

pills, tablets with blur Pomeranian dog sitting on background sommart / Getty Images

Pet medications are highly regulated due to their toxic nature. The problem comes with accidental ingestion, not regulated dosages. Some prescriptions are flavored to make them more palatable. Yet even if they're not, adventurous animals may let their curiosity get the best of them. No matter the type, if this medicine isn't in a secure location, your furry friend could get into it and eat an unsafe amount. Make sure to keep all medication in an area that your pet cannot access.

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8

Chromium

dog chewing a toy at home sanjagrujic / Getty Images

An essential dietary requirement, chromium is necessary in small amounts. However, large doses can cause various system failures and cancer in animals. These doses were discovered by forensic toxicology tests in a number of sampled imported toys. Accordingly, you should buy only trustworthy and familiar brands that have favorable reputations.

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9

Cadmium

Black dog chewing a steak chew toy Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

Experts also found cadmium in the same forensic toxicology tests that discovered chromium. Cadmium is a soft metal used in a multitude of items, including batteries, solar cells, and even nuclear reactors. Not only is it a proven carcinogen, but it can result in organ failure.

This toxin isn't highly regulated and ends up in many pet toys. Keep your fur baby safe by avoiding anything suspect. Signs of cadmium poisoning in animals include irreversible joint, lung, and kidney problems.

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10

Penitrem-A and other mycotoxins

cat eating food from bowl Astrid860 / Getty Images

Mycotoxins are a natural result of mold growth. Toxic to mammals in general, they're not something intentionally or nefariously added, but they can inadvertently develop over time. Penitrem-A is the most common variety found in pet food. It usually occurs if something isn't sealed properly or is outdated.

Symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning range from moderate to fatal. Vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, seizures, and organ failure are all possible outcomes of this toxicity. The best way to avoid it is to closely monitor pet food to ensure proper sealing and freshness.

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