Children’s Stuffed Toys Deadly to Pets?

by Mary Haight on April 2, 2010

Christmas Markt in Stuttgart 2004
Image via Wikipedia

How many times have you picked up an old teddy bear or other stuffed toy at a garage or yard sale and thought, hey this will be great for Bella!  The price may be right, but children’s stuffed toys may be deadly to pets. What is the most devastating – Bella isn’t likely to survive that emergency visit if you take the recent anecdotal evidence as representative.

The stuffing in children’s toys are treated with chemicals to inhibit bacteria, fungi and the like. Recently a dog ate the polyfil stuffing in a toy, and by the time the dog went into emergency surgery, the  intestines, rather than showing a swollen blockage that could be surgically removed, presented instead with black dead tissue that was once the intestines, and a massive gelatinous mess from the polyfil.  The dog did not survive.  A correction was made to the source report by our friends at Snopes who called the Vet, Sandra Tuominen  of Virginia, Minnesota, whose recent case was the basis for the story. 

The original story reported that fire retardant chemicals and mite control caused the death, a story that has in roots in a mid-2008 CBS news report.  According to the recent report, when ingested, both chemicals released toxins into the digestive system that killed the intestines, while the Vet’s own account named the bacterial inhibitors used in the polyfil as the likely culprit.  New information arises as cases proceed and professionals are given time to make appropriate assessments. Reports made may not get updated or revised to allow for that new information, and this seems to be the case here.  

No conclusive statements can be made at this time, given the scientifically insignificant sampling of reported incidents and lack of corroborating reports from other Vets.  The handful of dogs affected by eating bedding and other treated polyfils may have had undiscovered pre-existing conditions. Vets undoubtedly have heard of this inquiry through their own information networks and the data gathering has likely begun.

We’ll watch this story for new developments, but in the meantime…keep your dogs out of harm’s way – leave it:)

If you have had personal experience with this, or are a vet, we’d like to hear from you.

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playmobil castle
playmobil castle

You've got good information there. Thanks for sharing this one. I don't have any idea that a stuff toy could be deadly like that. I guess I should be more careful in giving toys for my little nieces to avoid that kind of incident. Great info!


This is really scary. When I think of how many times my dog played with one! And Karen is right, it seem stuffed toys could be deadly to children as well! I'll do a "stuffed toys control" around the house tomorrow!

Cosmo's human
Cosmo's human

I just heard about this dog-eating-child's toy incident. It seems like if were true more incidents would be reported. But to be safe, I'm pulling all of my dogs' "human toys" until I hear more. It also seems like this would be a big hazard for children. Even if they don't usually eat their teddy bears it seems like at least one child would have managed to do so. More info is needed.

Karen Friesecke
Karen Friesecke

It sounds like children's stuffed toys are deadly to children, too! I didn't know that the toy stuffings are treated with fungicides, YUCH!!


Thanks for this, Mary. I had no idea the innards of a stuffed toy could be so deadly. I'd always been warned about the button eyes on teddy bears, so I'd bet that lots of people also think that once they get rid of anything edible on the outside, they don't have to worry that much about the inside. Not that eating any stuffing is bound to be good for a dog... I guess the takeaway is: avoid all stuffed toys for dogs that are likely to eviscerate them.


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