In this Leaf Score series on eco-friendly, non-toxic dog toys, I’ve already looked at which dog chew toys you’ll want to avoid (with some names that might surprise you), and some factors to consider when choosing a chew toy for your dog. This time, in no particular order, I offer my top picks for eco-friendly, non-toxic dog chew toys.
Hip Doggie Starfish Loofa Organic Dental Toy
Alright, so this one is more of a ‘shred’ toy than a chew toy. Made with the same natural loofah material used to make back scrubbers, this toy is flavored with natural ‘meat’ flavoring, has no stuffing (it is 100% loofah), and measures approximately four inches across. The idea is that your pup chomps and chews and pulls at the 100% organic vegetable dental toy to help floss their teeth.
The Hip Doggie Starfish Loofa Organic Dental Toy is the winner of multiple Editor’s Choice and Eco Excellence Awards and only costs $4.75. The company also makes a slightly larger loofah bone measuring around seven inches long and costing $7.75.
All of the loofah type toys from Hip Doggie are packaged with a recycled plastic info card and the loofah itself is a sustainably sourced material. Indeed, you can actually eat the young fruits of luffa plants as they’re a bit like zucchini or squash. Once they mature, these fruits become very fibrous and are harvested for use as natural scrubbing materials and, now, for dog toys.
As a company, Hip Doggie also make a whole bunch of not so eco-friendly or non-toxic pet products and don’t seem to have any charitable arm to their business operations. As such, I’d only recommend the loofah chew toys from Hip Doggie.
Otter® Hemp Rope Dog Toy
The Otter® hemp chew toy is a favorite of the staff at moderndog magazine and is a top choice for an eco-friendly, non-toxic dog chew toy. Made in the USA from all natural hemp, this rope toy is a fantastic alternative to plastic and synthetic rubber chew toys and training aids.
Because hemp is such a hardworking fiber, made from a resilient plant that supports soil health and controls weeds all by itself, this hemp rope toy is free of herbicides and pesticides and is naturally resistant to mold and mildew. It’s also biodegradable and the Otter® Hemp Rope Dog Toy comes in eco-friendly packaging made with 100% recycled, 50%+ post-consumer waste. Otter® also use printing inks produced from renewable resources such as soybeans and other vegetables.
Other things I love about this product include the fact that it meets and/or exceeds the requirements as laid out by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and ASTM F963-11, meaning that this is a dog toy made to comply with standards created to ensure the safety of human infants. Specifically, these standards ensure that the toy does not contain a dangerous high level of lead or other heavy metal and that it does not contain small parts that constitute a choking hazard.
The rope toy is also available in four different weights ranging from $9.99 to $17.99, so there’s bound to be one suitable for your pup, whatever their size and bite strength:
- Mini: Dogs Up to 6 lbs. (not intended for puppies)
- Small: Dogs 7-18 lbs.
- Medium: Dogs 18-44 lbs.
- Large: Dogs 45 lbs. and up
Otter® are a small Wyoming start-up and the hemp rope toy is their first product to launch. As one of the best eco-friendly pet products made in the USA from sustainable materials, I’m keen for folks to support this company.
Unlike almost every other pet product company out there, Otter® are committed to going beyond the voluntary pet industry standards to ensure their products are sustainable and safe for your dog and the rest of your family. They also help support non-profits and shelters and offer free shipping on orders over $38.95, so put in a bulk order with friends and spread the love.
Himalayan Dog Chew Ruff Bone Dog Toy
Olive wood and olive oil
This chew toy is a great choice for dogs that love chewing sticks or gnawing on furniture. Save your table legs from harm by getting a Himalayan Ruff Bone made of solid olive wood, hand-harvested and sustainably sourced, then soaked in olive oil.
Unlike sticks or furniture, Ruff Bones don’t splinter, they mulch. This means your dog can gnaw away without worry and clean their teeth at the same time. They’re also great for teething puppies, but can withstand power chewers too. These ‘bones’ don’t stain or smell and come in four sizes, ranging in price from around $13-$22.
I have a feeling one of these may well be in Kali’s Christmas stocking this year. Shh.
SafeMade are the one company I tracked down who make pet products to the same standards as products intended for children, according to CPSIA and ASTM F963. This makes sense given that the founders of this company were children’s product developers before they started making pet products.
SafeMade perform their own tests for use and abuse, flammability, and chemical content, as well as “toxicological risk assessments and further use and abuse testing specifically designed to simulate how a pet plays and chews with [their] toys”. You can contact them directly for copies of safety certificates and test reports for any product of theirs you’re interested in buying, making them arguably the most transparent pet product company around.
Their products include this alligator shaped chew toy made with non-toxic food grade silicone, and this barbell, also made with silicone. There don’t seem to be many of these SafeMade toys around, however, and some, like, are currently out of stock, so if you spot one, snap it up. This also suggests that some food-grade kitchenware (such as the handle cover for cast iron) may be a decent substitute for toxic dog toys, but I can’t confirm that.
Some SafeMade products seem less robust than you might want if you have a moderate to strong chewer. Indeed, some of the toys have tabs and bumpy pieces that might be easily broken off. As such, you definitely want to supervise your pup when introducing these toys and it’s best to inspect the toys regularly and get rid of any pieces that break away.
Runners-up for responsible dog chew toys
In addition to the companies and dog chew toys I recommend above, you might want to consider the following smaller outfits making dog chew toys that are slightly more eco-friendly and non-toxic than most toys out there.
BecoBone or BecoBal on a rope
Rice husk and natural rubber, cotton (in some toys)
Beco Pets have made the world’s first rice husk and natural rubber dog toys and are a UK company that gives back to the community, donating a portion of profits to various animal charities. The BecoBalls and BecoBone products are tough and strong, free from toxic chemicals, and have a slight vanilla scent. The ball and rope toy includes a natural cotton rope (would be great if this was organic cotton), which allows you to throw it even farther in the park.
While my trusty canine product tester hasn’t tested these toys herself, other dogs seem to love them. The bone in particular appears to hold up well to strong chewers and even if it does eventually get destroyed, there’s little concern over small pieces being ingested as the materials are natural and biodegradable.
The BecoBalls come in a variety of sizes and have a slightly wonky shape, meaning they can bounce in a fun and erratic way to keep your pup entertained. There’s also a small hole in the bottom of the ball, so you can stuff treats inside for a fun treasure hunt game with your pup.
Jerry Giraffe Cotton Rope Toy
Cotton and vegetable dyes
Jerry the Giraffe is about 13 inches tall and is a dog rope toy made with cotton dyed with vegetable-based dyes. The cotton isn’t organic, sadly, but the company claims it is chemical-free and non-toxic, in addition to being machine washable. As such, I’d wash this toy before giving it to your pup for the first time, just in case there are traces of pesticides or herbicides associated with conventional cotton farming.
This giraffe toy is hand-knotted and naturally frays and unravels, acting a bit like dental floss to help keep your pup’s teeth clean. You’ll want to plait it back together though if it starts to unravel too much, so as to avoid the risk of your pup swallowing any longer pieces of cotton that could cause a digestive issue. If the toy gets too gross for your liking, you can throw it in the wash and dry in the dryer. Or, if it’s beyond redemption, you can bury it or compost it as it’s totally biodegradable.
These cotton toys are great for teething puppies or dogs who overheat in summer; just soak the toy in water and freeze it.
The Good Dog Co Hemp Biscuit Dog Toy
The Good Dog Company makes three types of Hemp Biscuit Dog Toys, one blue, one red, and one in a natural, undyed color. These cost around $11.49 and are made with durable hemp and organic cotton on the outside and a raw hemp fiber filling, plus a squeaker. They are machine washable, naturally antibacterial, and resistant to mold and mildew and measure 4 inches by 9 inches.
Perfect for playing fetch, annoying the neighbors, or for a good old chew, this is a biscuit that will last your dog a lot longer than most pet store treats.
I’ve reached out to the company to check what kind of dyes they use in the blue and red toys and I’m waiting to hear back. In the meantime, my recommendation is to go for the natural, undyed, Hemp Biscuit Toy.
Other decent options include:
The Foggy Dog Handcrafted Upcycled Denim Plush Bone Dog Toys – made with upcycled denim and stuffed with recycled plastic bottle filling
Boiled wool bones – soft bone-shaped dog toys made with wool and all natural dyes by craftswomen under (uncertified) fair trade conditions in Nepal. Durable, but not totally indestructible if you have a clever canine or power chewer.
If you’ve come across, or if you manufacture, another eco-friendly, non-toxic dog chew or other dog toy or product, please get in touch. I’d love to bulk out this list so more dogs get to satisfy their need to gnaw in a safe and sustainable way.