The terms “plastic” and “dog toys” add up to a hazard, according to an avid dog lover’s research, documented in the article “Choosing Safe Dog Toys: Beware of Pet Toys With Parts That Can Break off and Choke a Dog.” According to the owner’s experience, the question of whether or not to use tough plastic is anything but a hard question. Hard plastic toys will all but shatter, if they don’t cave in to the pressure and snap apart as a dog chews them. The result is a bunch of sharp edges that can cut paws, mouths and throats. Though a case is made for soft plastic being harmless even if swallowed, the only thing that makes it “safe” is the dog’s resilient digestive system. Still, some plastics are far better than others. For environmentally conscious and extremely concerned pet parents, there are new innovations in plastic, but even better, there are natural options as well. Find out what to get and how to recycle those old toys, too.
West Paw Design's Bumper Bed, made with IntelliLoft fiber

Innovations in plastic

Believe it or not, plastic does have its place, even in dog toys and products, according to the people at West Paw Design, who saw that while the demand was there, it was important to provide the product. With that said, they have made major improvements on newly formulated plastic chew toys. The plastic is touted as less harmful and more easily recyclable than mass-produced plastic products. All are viewable on their site for all things environmentally sustainable, using both old and new materials to the market. The first product is Zogoflex, often used on plastic chew toys, is a tough material that is said to be buoyant and pliable. Recyclable as well, it gives a pet owner a choice of an affordable and safe plastic toy that produces almost zero waste during the manufacturing process. It’s an FDA-compliant material, but, most importantly, does not contain some of the feared chemicals that most plastic toys contain. None of the Zogoflex toys contain any known sources of lead, cadmium, mercury, latex, natural rubber, hormones, Bisphenol A or asbestos. IntelliLoft Fiber is plastic’s cousin, as far as sustainability is concerned. It is known as the stuffing on toys and in beds as well, and is made using 100% recycled plastic bottles. But, this fabric has a few important differences. IntelliLoft Fiber Fill is a re-engineered polymer that goes through a recycling process that makes the resulting fiber safe for your dog. The recycling capabilities of many plastics is helping plastic to lose its stigma as a poor, cheap choice. Still, some owners want a simpler, organic option. That is where a different fabric comes into play.

Organic cotton: The fabric of our sustainable lives

Organic cotton, in how many different aspects are you the better option for the environment? Organic cotton users have counted the ways: free of toxins or allergens, nontoxic and made from materials originating in nature. With fibers that are unbleached, untreated and unprocessed, organic cotton seems to be the way to go for worried owners. Thanks to an ever-increasing supply of providers, finding organic chew toys is as simple as a Web search. One provider is Global Dog Natural Pet Products, and they have made a business out of providing all of organic cotton’s features. Chew toys and stuffed animals alike give an environmentally friendly option that just might provide your dog a new friend at play time.

Stop old dog toys from piling up

Though this may seem hard to believe, owners of old plastic toys have a lot of good news to look forward to when wanting to get rid of toys the right way. Recycling is an easy option. Even with stuffed toys, often, polymer fabrics and fibers were used in that toy. Polymer fabric is in almost everything Fido-related you can find. The indigestible animal hazards are actually welcome by many recycling centers. Simply see the plastic recycling locator section of No matter what Fido likes to play with, sustainable products seem to be safer for him, too. Now that’s something to chew on.