How to Address Pet Owners' Concerns About Plastic



This year has seen increased discussion of the impact of plastic on our environment. According to the National Ocean Service, plastic is the most common debris found in the ocean and in the Great Lakes. The Center for International Environmental Law released a study examining how plastic production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. There has also been a call for greater research into the effect of plastics on health. With these concerns, pet parents may think twice about giving their animal companions plastic toys. Here’s what retailers need to know.


Plastic pet toys have less strict safety standards than children’s toys do. They are at a greater risk of containing harmful chemicals, particularly if they are manufactured abroad. A Texas Tech University study found that aging and worn dog toys contained increased concentrations of BPA and phthalates, which help make plastic more flexible. Both of these chemicals are known endocrine disruptors in the body and could lead to negative health effects.


“The interaction of pet health and environmental chemicals is understudied,” said Kimberly Wooten, one of the study’s authors. “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.”


We may not have definitive answers on how exactly plastic affects animal health, but for pet parents who are concerned about this issue—or for those who want to be more eco-friendly—plastic toys may not be an option. Retailers should take care to include toys made from natural materials like hemp or canvas in their product selection. They can also highlight toys made in the USA with a special section and stock items that are specifically labeled as “BPA-free.” By keeping tabs on environmental and health news, retailers can help tailor their product offerings to their customers’ needs.


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