Animal lovers in the UAE have been urged to take care when pampering their pets, with many unaware of the potentially deadly risks posed by seemingly harmless toys and shampoos.
The safety of fluffy toys and some anti-flea treatments have been brought into question with pets suffering adverse allergic reactions to some shampoos.
While the pet toy trade is booming, with The Middle East Pet Care Company set to open its ninth UAE branch of Pet's Delight, not all owners are aware of the risks of leaving animals unattended with toys.
“A lot of education is required as many of these toys can be a choking hazard,” said Farah Al-Khojai, managing director of Arab Land Trading LLC, the operating company for Pet’s Delight.
“People need to be supervising their pets with toys and not leave them unattended.
“Fluffy toys in particular can be dangerous if you are not there.
“People should be comfortable with the products they are using on their pets.
“That includes where they are made as some countries have better checks on the manufacturing process than others, and also the ingredients of products.”
Photos of horrific injuries of two chihuahuas were recently posted on a dog group social media page after apparently suffering an adverse reaction to an anti-flea treatment.
Both dogs suffered severe burns, believed to have been caused by a puppy shampoo. One of the animals died.
Although rare, other owners have reported pets having seizures after application of similar flea and tick treatments.
Products containing Permethrin, a pesticide commonly used in over-the-counter-products, is suspected of causing the reaction.
The chemical has been safely used for decades, but some animals experienced an allergic response.
Experts said owners should check the ingredients of any treatment or treat and seek professional advice from a vet before trying something new.
“Every pet is different, and a lot of animals will have allergies to certain treatments so it is always worth consulting a vet before trying a new product,” said Ms Al-Khojai.
“It is up to individual shops to take responsibility for their suppliers and the products they are selling.
“If there is a recall or a warning notice on faulty goods, they need to aware of what that is so they can take appropriate action.
“Social media groups are very quick to share information if there has been a product recall, but the wholesaler has a responsibility to deliver the right information.
“This is not always happening.”
All new brands and products need to be registered with Dubai Municipality for a stamp of approval before going on sale.
Rope-toys, balls and bones can also prove fatal, if dogs are left alone with their treats.
“There are so many things that can go wrong when you leave your pets alone with toys,” said Trina Mole, the owner of Sassy Pet Shop, an online store headquartered in Dubai.
“There are many companies manufacturing pet toys that do not have any veterinary or anatomical knowledge about pets.
“When you add this lack of knowledge to leaving a pet alone with a toy it’s a recipe for disaster.
“A good pet shop will be able to advise which toys are best for your pet depending on their personality and behaviour.”
Ms Mole said hydraulic cutters have been used to cut away rubber toys from the mouths of dogs after becoming stuck during chewing.
And soft and rope-tug toys pose a choking hazard when they are destroyed by dogs, breaking up into smaller pieces or dislodging plastic components.
Rubber balls should only be used if they have a hole, in case the dog swallows the toy so it can still breathe.
“The best thing people can do is to spend time with pets to engage them in games with toys,” said Ms Mole.
“It is vital people do not leave their pets alone with toys to keep them entertained.”