Who doesn’t love the dollar store – but are dog toys from the dollar store safe?

Yes and no, depending on the toy and how it’s made. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate dog toys, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission only regulates pet toys that can be proven to put consumers (people, not dogs) at risk. So when it comes to safety you’re on your own.

What to avoid in dog toys

Rubber Dog Toys: Not Good

Most cheap dog toys are made with rubber from a group of chemicals called Phthalates (pronounced Tha-lates) which increase flexibility and longevity.

Phthalates are everywhere and so is research and articles warning about their health risks. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommended they be banned in kid’s products, and a bill was passed in 2014 to restrict their use.

However, products imported from offshore, notably China, aren’t tested especially when they are for pets or general household use. Phthalates are directly linked to:

  • asthma
  • ADD
  • breast cancer
  • obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • behavioral issues
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • altered reproductive development
  • male fertility issues.

Target and Walmart have both initiated programs to reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals from their shelves; this effort is still underway. In the meantime,  avoid rubbery dog toys from dollar stores.

Cheap rubbery toys, like these squeaky toys, can contain poisonous levels of phthalates, already banned in kids’ toys.

avoid dog toys where parts like eyes can be chewed off

Toys with easy to remove parts like eyes

Obviously, dog toys that can be easily chewed apart are not good. Your Morkie could swallow eyes or other small parts and choke on them. Plus stuffing inside could cause intestinal problems, even if it is good quality cotton, which it never is.

Anything with ribbons, separately sewn on eyes, feathers, or small parts should be avoided.

 Rope Toys, Rope Pulls

The thin strands in these rope toys are dangerous to your Morkie’s digestive system if swallowed. Think of hairs building up in the shower drain.

Plus they are treated with chemicals that are toxic, including preservatives and dyes.

frayed shredded rope toy

Cheap rope toys soon disintegrate into individual chemical-laden fibers of unknown origin.

Rawhide chew sticks: bad in sooo many ways

Where to start with rawhide chews?

In a nutshell, Here are the problems with rawhide chew sticks or treats for dogs:


  1. they can contain chemical residue, preservatives, dye, and bleach.
  2. many are contaminated with e-Coli and Salmonella
  3. they get soft when chewed and can easily choke your Morkie.
  4. rawhide chew products especially the ones sold at dollar store outlets may come from the illegal and disgusting international fur trade

The Humane Society of the United States warns that offshore rawhide chews are probably a product of the illegal international fur trade. How so?

More than 100 million animals are killed for fur use each year, and most come from unregulated fur factory farms. Chemical treatment of the skins of animals to make “rawhide” is extremely harsh and can be deadly.

In countries like Korea and China, DOGS ARE PART OF THE ILLEGAL FUR AND MEAT TRADE. So those rawhide chew sticks COULD BE MADE FROM DOG SKIN.

Plus you are unknowingly supporting a very cruel industry.

There’s another danger with rawhide chews; after they’ve been chewed for a while, you’ll notice they get quite soft and slippery. The pieces can get lodged in your Morkie’s throat and choke him.

Is this little guy one of the victims of the illegal fur trade? If so, his hide could end up as a dog chew stick!

Yuuch! How rawhide is made

how rawhide chews are made


Rawhide is a misnomer since the end products are actually made from a middle layer of animal skin. After the cow, horse, pig or whatever is slaughtered, the top layers of the hide are removed for tanning, to become various grades of leather. The fatty bottom layers are removed and processed into ingredients for cosmetics, paint, cleaning ingredients and more.

The remaining middle layer is treated with several caustic baths to remove hair and any blemishes. Then it is bleached again, to make it pure white. After this, the layer of skin is painted and treated with preservative chemicals, then glued and rolled together into chewsticks or other shapes, to be sold to unsuspecting pet owners.

Despite all this processing, chew treats are a serious risk for Salmonella and e-Coli contamination.

Balls for Dog Play

Any toy smaller than a ping pong ball is a serious choking hazard.

I’ll never forget the story about Oprah; one of her beloved Golden Retrievers died right in front of her and the trainer after a tennis ball got lodged in his windpipe. Despite the animal professional nearby, it would not be dislodged.


Tennis Balls aren’t for chewing

It’s not likely a Morkie will be attracted t a tennis ball, but you never know.

tennis balls are not for chewing

This old toy has seen enough use!

Plush Toys from dollar store type outlets

Check the label and see if the toy is rated as safe for children under 3 years old. Chances are this designation won’t be there. Cheap plush toys are easily torn apart, and dogs will eat bits of the plush fabric and stuffing. Sometimes this stuffing is plastic beads, another high-risk product.

If your Morkie has started to rip up the toy, it’s time to throw it out.

Better Alternatives

Ethically-made toys are few and far between and it’s hard to find them. However, there are some. And there are alternatives for your Mokrie:

  • hard rubber toys (think Kong for consistency)
  • Kongs themselves, filled with treats to keep your Morkie busy
  • made in the USA toys
  • “Busy-box” or “feeder” toys are large rubber shapes that can be filled with treats. By moving the cube around with their nose, mouth, and paws, your dog can get to the goodies.
  • an old clothing item of yours, that your Morkie can have in his bed for comfort

Unfortunately for dogs and owners, manufacturing of pet toys relies on the honor system; for less scrupulous companies, it’s trial by error.

–Choosing Safe Dog Toys