The Consumer Product Safety Commission, an independent agency of the federal government, is responsible for safety guidelines for children's toys. Unfortunately, there aren’t any government safety regulations written specifically for pet toys. Lead-based paints are still used in some countries, but since 1977, lead in paint made in or imported to the United States cannot exceed 600 parts per million (ppm). Items that test for amounts higher than this will be recalled by the governmentbut the government isn’t currently testing pet toys.
Concerned pet parents like you, however, are helping to bring attention to this issue. American media outlets have initiated some random lead testing on imported pet toys, and findings of lead concentrations ranging from none to trace amounts to 30,000 ppm have been reported in the press.
However, pet toys are not likely to be a significant threat in most real-life cases. A review of 200,000 cases managed by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) over the past two years yielded no reports of lead poisoning from pet toys. A reasonable explanation for the lack of cases is that even if a toy is made with lead paint, the actual amount of the paint on the toy’s surface is probably very small. It’s also important to remember that pets and people ingest lead daily in their diets; in other words, there is a normal “background level” of lead that we all consume.
“Both children and pets should be able to play with and mouth toys without the possibility of lead poisoning,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, board-certified veterinary toxicologist and ASPCA Senior Vice President. “The ASPCA challenges pet toy manufacturers take responsibility for quality control, test their products and post findings on company websites to assure pet parents of the lack of unacceptable lead concentrations.” In the meantime, if you are still concerned about lead making an appearance on your pet’s toys, make it a point to buy products manufactured in the U.S. made to human-toy standards.