One of the most iconic and popular toys for dogs would have to be the ball. The dog ball represents hours of fun, trust, time to bond and the historical relationship shared by dogs and humans. A vast array of sizes, shapes, textiles and designs raises the question how do you choose a safe dog ball for your dog?
In creating an entire line of eco friendly dog toys and accessories Doggy Eco considered multiple factors to deliver a holistic approach to developing a truly eco-friendly dog ball. These considerations will assist you in choosing an eco-friendly toy for your dog and provide you with insight into the careful consideration of the Doggy Eco manufacturing process.
Animal behavioural studies have shown the fetch and retrieve instinct stimulates the reward regions of a dog’s brain. This helps to improve mood, causing your dog to play again and again i.e. 'fetch and retrieve'. The Australian Dog Lover Magazine (2020, 2021) and Off the Leash Dog Magazine (2020) have featured the Eco Ball.
Our Inspiration to create a Safe Dog Ball
Introducing our eight year old Border Collie Rosie! Dog lovers will understand when I say that Rosie LOVES her ball.
Rosie had previously used a hard rubber ball from a reputable brand. I considered a hard rubber ball to safe, long lasting, durable and indestructible. Rosie taught me two things. No1. There is no such thing as an indestructible dog toy. No2. Prolonged use of catching a hard rubber dog toy can be unsafe for a dog’s teeth. Costly dental work for Rosie was upwards of $1500 and post operation Rosie can no longer eat dry dog food.
Protracted rough play with a hard ball caused Rosie's teeth to become damaged
Product Requirements for a Safe Dog Ball
The Doggy Eco design brief listed following necessary features:
- A Non Toxic and safe dog ball
- 100% sustainable
- 100% Eco-Friendly
- Non Abrasive on Teeth
- Used by dogs of all sizes
- Could last extended periods of supervised play
- Used inside and outside
- Is long lasting for protracted use
One of our findings from researching textiles and concepts around the dog ball was: human directed play behaviour with dogs has led to the misconception that hard dog toys are longer lasting and more durable. It is this misconception that can result in damaged teeth and unnecessary pain and dental work for your dog.
The Doggy Eco - Eco Ball won't deteriorate in water
In researching to develop an eco friendly, sustainable and safe dog ball Doggy Eco considered several materials such as recycled rubber, recycled plastic, knotted hemp and wool. Wool is nontoxic, has excellent water absorbency, is renewable and if ingested not toxic. Wool also satisfied the eight required characteristics in the design brief. Most importantly, wool is nonabrasive so catching or biting a woollen ball over a protracted time will not damage dogs’ teeth.
Wool as a textile
Raw wool was turned into a compounded structure using the process of felting. At a micro level the fibres of wool are covered in scales. When agitated together and put under pressure in water produce a friction process which forces the fibres to entangle and clump together. The fibre of wool then shrinks and becomes denser. The Eco Ball is then moulded into shape producing a totally natural and sustainable dog toy.
Wool felting used to make eco-friendly dog toys
Eco Ball testing found that the compounded felted wool will absorb water, making the ball heavier allowing it to be thrown further than any tennis ball. Through a wicking process wool can soak up to as much as 30% of its weight in moisture. Another benefit of moisture wicking is that it creates a natural anti-microbial environment. This prevents mould, mildew, and other undesirable “stinks” from ever infiltrating or destroying the Eco Ball.
Why we chose wool
Wool fibres are more flexible and durable than cotton fibres. and can be bent back and forth up to 20,000 times before snapping. For context, the same cotton fibre can only be bent about 3,000 times before the same will happen. The balance of air moisture retained by wool keeps it from getting brittle over time like other fibres meaning your Eco Ball will last longer than other textiles of less durability.
Since wool is essentially just the regrown hair of an animal, it is an entirely sustainable resource that requires no harm to animal or plant life. Wool is free from refinement and treatment chemicals. Plus wool has the added benefit of returning to the earth as compost, capable of completely breaking down naturally. This enabled Doggy Eco to create it's first Circular Economy dog toy.
Another benefit of the Eco Ball is that they are dense enough not to bounce but absorb the impact of a bounce allowing games of indoor fetch less liable to do damage to furnishings. Doggy Eco aspires to create adventures and make memories for you and your dog through sustainable and eco-friendly dog accessories. So if you’re indoors, outdoors, a big dog or little dog, the Doggy Eco eco ball is a great non toxic and safe dog toy option. The Doggy Eco eco ball is also ideal for senior dogs who still like to fetch and chew on a ball, and for puppies who are teething.
Product Testing for a Safe Dog Ball
Small, Medium and Large dogs can effectively carry the Eco Ball due to his composition. To test the structural integrity of the compounded wool we selected a notorious ball chewer and destroyer (a 55kg German Shepherd named Odin). The compounded properties of wool made the ball light weight but also far more inflexible than a hollow tennis ball. Due to the eco balls solid woollen structure there’s little risk of them cracking and falling apart. This said Doggy Eco stresses that supervised play is most suitable. If left to his own devises Odin employs his superpower of seek and destroy.
Odin the product tester seeking out the Eco Ball
There are at least 4.8 million pet dogs in Australia. This means at least one in five households owns a dog. Introducing Aussie pups to eco-friendly dog toys impacts both on household municipal waste and the safety of your fur kid. The Eco Ball makes an excellent unique dog gift offering a refreshed look on eco-friendly dog toys.