Eco-Friendly Toys For Kids… And Dogs?

With an increased awareness about the state of the environment, more and more families are choosing to “go green”. Making choices that are eco-friendly is an easy process; there are now lines of environmentally-friendly foods, bedding, and cleaners, to name a few. However, many people fail to realize that in addition to teaching children to reuse and recycle, they can also fill their toy boxes with eco-friendly items. Environmentally-friendly wood products are becoming increasingly common in the toy world. Wooden toys, a hit item of the past, are making a comeback. Everything from toy boxes to easel are being constructed of natural wood that will biodegrade over time.

Many eco-friendly toy manufacturers also opt to use wood that is plentiful in supply, as opposed to scarce hardwoods. Wood is often used to replace certain types of plastic, which some manufacturers fear poses a health risk to children because of the chemicals it contains. Stuffed animals, a popular addition to any child’s toy collection, are constructed of organic cotton in the eco-friendly world. Organic cotton causes as little harm to the Earth as possible, eliminating overuse of pesticides and fertilizers.

This type of cotton has gained popularity over the past few years, with a production increase of more than fifty per cent in 2005. In addition to stuffed toys, organic cotton is also used in infants’ and children’s clothing and bedding. It is important to be aware of the increased costs associated with environmentally-friendly toys. Often somewhat more expensive than other toys, organic toys are well worth the money. They offer safe alternatives to potentially hazardous chemicals, often last much longer than regular toys, and will not harm the environment in the long run. Eco-friendly manufacturers are even producing organic pet toys.

Like children’s toys, environmentally-friendly pet toys avoid the use of chemical-based plastics, instead using biodegradable materials. Many dog toys are made of hemp, best used for a game of fetch than as a regular chew toy. Even stuffed animals made for dogs are created using organic cotton, like eco-friendly child toys. They do not contain bleach and may also be stuffed with a combination of cotton and hemp. In addition, the materials used in these products are usually hypoallergenic. Some organic pet toy producers have even gone so far as to create their own materials.

These new compounds offer alternatives to plastic and rubber without any toxic additives. According to dog owner reviews, pets appear to enjoy the new products just as much as the old, tried-and-true versions.

Pets in the Classroom: Safety Considerations

There are some serious considerations to be given before making the decision to include pets in the classroom, perhaps more than you may have realized. This video gives a nice overview of what those considerations are, and how to address the many concerns that will arise.

Deer Antler Velvet – What Does It Do?

You may have noticed a number of health supplements containing deer antler velvet. These products purportedly help to raise the production of IGF-1, which is a precursor to HGH (Human Growth Hormone).

There is a fair amount of controversy concerning these supplements, ranging from animal cruelty accusations to whether or not they are even effective in the first place. Despite these concerns, sales for deer velvet products have been on the increase over the last several years.

The velvet is mainly harvested in New Zealand and is made from deer antlers in a growing stage where they are covered in velvet-like hair. It was initially listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a banned substance, but has recently been dropped from the list.

Since the benefits of taking these supplements is inconclusive, more testing is needed.

As deer velvet continues to be studied, more benefits will likely emerge. Here’s a video giving a brief overview of how it’s supposed to work:


Pet Squirrels in Moscow

The squirrels in Moscow’s parks are slowly disappearing as people are poaching them. In most cases, the animals are being poached for pets, but some people will eat the meat and use the fur.

The city official has received multiple reports of poaching and has ordered fines up to 20,000 rubles ($573) for those caught poaching.

It’s been reported that one squirrel can fetch up to 5,000 rubles ($144).

This is nuts (no pun intended)… During spring and summer months, you can collect orphaned squirrels and sell them to Russians. Well, not really, but there are worse pets that one could have.

Squirrels live about 3 to 6 years, which is about 3 years longer than a hamster- one of the most popular small, rodent pets.

Although, cute in their own way, it’s not ideal to catch wild squirrels to keep as pets. They can contain diseases and illness that you or other pets could contract.


Dangerous Plants for Cats and Dogs

Avoid having any of the following plants near your pets.

Grayanotoxin plants include rhododendrons, azaleas, laurels and Japanese pieris. These plants can cause vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest.

Sago Palms are common outdoor ornamental plants in warm climates and indoor plants in cool climates. Once ingested, pets may suffer liver failure, seizures and death. The entire plant is toxic; the seeds are the most toxic part of the plant. Sago palms have a mortality rate of about 30%.

Cardiac Glycoside plants include oleander, foxglove and lily of the valley. Once ingested, the glycosides in the plant can slow down heartbeat and even stop it. Generally, these plants are outdoor plants, but lily of the valley is commonly used in bouquets.


Japanese Yews stay green year-round, which is why they’re commonly used as landscaping plants. Yews contain toxins that can cause irregular heartbeat or stop the heart. All parts of the plant are toxic except for the ripe berry. Death can occur within hours of ingesting the plant.

Castor Bean contains ricin which can be very toxic to pets. Ricin can cause multiple organ failure; there is about a 9% mortality rate once ingested. Ricin is found throughout the plant, but it is most concentrated in the seeds. If the seed is ingested, the dog may not die or experience ill-effects as long as the seed coating isn’t damaged.

Autumn Crocus contains chemo-like compounds that attack rapidly dividing cells. If ingested, pets may experience vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and even death. Autumn crocus looks similar to the spring crocus, but the spring crocus is not toxic.

Hops are used in brewing beer. If ingested by pets, the body temperature can skyrocket and within hours, dogs may become agitated and start painting. The body temperature can rise enough to cause death.

Lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Cats will vomit within hours of ingestion and may stop producing urine within 72 hours. Cats who receive treatment early typically have good prognosis.

Donate to the ASPCA


It doesn’t take much to help an animal in need. You can donate to the ASPCA or purchase merchandise from the online store.

What’s neat about making a donation is that you can either make a one time sum or you can make small, monthly donations.

Sometimes you can’t adopt a new pet or foster one until the animal finds a home, but you can donate. Donating to local animals shelters is ideal, but if you can spare any money to help the ASPCA, you will truly be helping thousands of animals.

The ASPCA fights animal cruelty, animal regulations, puppy mills, and pet health and safety concerns.