Pet-health experts & leather-dye experts - completely normal question
August 21, 2015 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Is it safe to make dog and cat toys from recycled leather* jackets and bags? Googling is not helping here. I feel like my little buddies would love some leather toys, and I could probably give or sell some to friends/neighbours, but I just want to be on the safe side.

Are there any chemicals in fashion-leather that would pose a danger to pets if they chewed on them? Or are there particular colours that are dangerous? If they managed to chew and swallow a chunk of the leather, would that be bad, or would leather be digestible and so preferable to swallowing a chunk of something else, like plastic?

*I am specifying ONLY recycled leather, usually scavenged/free. Please no tips for where to buy new leather.
posted by 100kb to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I worry about the chromium used in tanning most leather. I would not give recycled leather to a pet to chew on, since it's likely to contain toxic chemicals.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 9:48 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Vegetable tanned leather would probably be fine but chromium tanned leather is a definite no go.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 10:09 AM on August 21, 2015

In addition to all the chemicals used to process leather, I would especially not use recycled leather since all leathers pick up dirt and smells that are near impossible to clean off. I would not want any type of leather for pet toys, new or recycled.
I get that many of us pet owners have pets who have destroyed a leather couch/cushion and eaten a bit and totally survived and thrived but making leather toys (unless you are totally sure of the provenance) I would not personally do. Would I want to chew on it myself?
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 10:38 AM on August 21, 2015

Agreed not to use leather, especially chrome-tanned. It's full of terrible stuff.

Another thing to think about: do you really want to habituate pets to chew on something that expensive items are made out of? If my dog loved his leather toy, I'd be afraid he'd think my shoes and handbags were for him, too.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:39 AM on August 21, 2015

I'd say no unless you can score some scraps from someone who tans their own leather in a safe way. In addition to the tanning they could have other treatments in manufacturing or by whoever owned it - protective sprays, polish, leather moisturizer.
posted by oneear at 1:25 PM on August 21, 2015

Response by poster: I give my cats tuna as a special treat, even though it has mercury in it. To clarify my question, I'm looking for specific, credible and scientific information about toxicity. If chromium is the issue, what are the specific symptoms of chromium toxicity? At what doses is it toxic, and is it possible to be exposed to a toxic dose via mouth/saliva? Is there any research on chromium toxicity in cats or dogs?

Lots of humans wear leather against sweaty skin all day, not to mention there are leather fetish items intended for the mouth or other areas, which makes me think a finished leather product couldn't be that high in chromium or Hells Angels would be dropping dead of rare cancers. Maybe they are? If so, a scientific source would be appreciated.

I would especially not use recycled leather since all leathers pick up dirt and smells that are near impossible to clean off.

Dirt and smells are a bonus feature, as far as these guys are concerned.
posted by 100kb at 3:30 PM on August 21, 2015

I knew absolutely nothing about this and went out looking. This is from the EPA on chromium. From my causal browsing I saw it mentioned animal studies here and there.

There's also this news story about a dog who ate some leather (and metal eyelets, granted) and required surgery. It doesn't look like this is a safe thing for them to pass. More Googling revealed more stories from dog owners who needed to make a trip to the vet, due to intestinal obstructions from swallowed leather of various sorts (off a baseball, a leash, human clothing, etc.). It looks like dangerous stuff.

I don't know about you, but I have never seen pet toys made out of leather in any store. And considering how dogs absolutely love this material when we do everything we can to keep them out of our stuff, I'd feel confident in saying that there WILL be accidents and threats to their well-being.

Please don't do it?
posted by erratic meatsack at 6:20 PM on August 21, 2015

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