Eric Shannon

Founder, Big Barker

Your dog spends more time sleeping every day than any other activity. In fact, the average dog sleeps between 12 to 18 hours per day! But what you may not know is that your dog could be resting on a toxic blend of lead, arsenic, and mercury that steadily poisons his or her body and actually exacerbates the very pain that their bed was supposedly designed to alleviate.

As someone that’s been in the dog bed business since 2006, I know that almost all of the foam-based dog beds sold in America use Chinese foam. It’s notorious for being cheaply made, and it usually can’t hold up nearly as well as American foam. But there’s a much bigger reason why Chinese foam is so concerning.

Chinese factories have been dumping toxic fillers into their foam for years.

It’s been a poorly kept secret that the Chinese factories have been dumping toxic fillers into their foam for years. These fillers give the foam a fake “fuller look” and “density rating” that makes the dog bed look like a great buy... until you get it home and it flattens and falls apart in no time flat!

Chinese manufacturers (and American brands that buy their beds from China) have been able to get away with this elaborate con on the American public for a long time. But that ends today.

Because until now - we’ve only been able to warn customers about the shoddy durability of the Chinese foam, but we never had irrefutable PROOF that these innocent-looking beds can actually be riddled with an alarming number of hidden toxins.

But now we do.

Thanks to a shocking study conducted by the non-profit Ecology Center in Michigan that l’ll detail for you, now there’s ample proof that the fears my colleagues and l voiced were well founded.

Worse, Chinese foam is actually even more dangerous for dogs than any of us dreamed!

Yes, believe it or not, evidence suggests that the dog bed your K9 companion may enjoy lounging on right now, could in fact be slowly poisoning them.

Of course, this is not the first time shoddy, careless Chinese manufacturing has given American pet owners sleepless nights.

In 2007, over 4,000 beloved American pets died because they’d eaten tainted doggie treats made in Chinese factories. These treats contained toxic ingredients that compromised their pet’s kidneys.

It didn’t stop there. There have been at least 17 additional pet food recalls in 2017 alone!1

Given this mind blowing lack of oversight and responsibility in pet food manufacturing, should we really be taken aback that other Chinese-made pet products aren’t up to snuff either?

After all, as awful and shocking as it sounds to American dog owners like us, the sale of dog meat for human consumption is still legal in China. Investigative journalism has shown over 10 million dogs each year are slaughtered for food. 2

The bottomline: China’s overall track record when it comes for caring for dogs is disturbing and deplorable.

Moreover, considering their shoddy manufacturing practices and their tendency to dangerously “cut corners” to save money, it’s no surprise that Chinese manufacturers are up to their old tricks.

This time, it’s in how they are manufacturing the dog beds that get shipped directly to American stores and pet outlets.

According to my industry sources, Chinese-made dog beds make up an estimated 98% of all dog beds sold in the USA. So it’s highly likely that the dog beds in your home—or, at the very least, their foam inserts—were manufactured in China. 3

In fact, the phrase “Chinese foam” has become a shorthand for foam that is very low quality - especially among those in the know.

Why? Firstly, because it tends to break down extremely quickly and is known to “flatten and fall apart” with only minimal use.

And secondly, because it’s often created in factories with precious few quality standards and a seeming obsession with making foam as cheaply as possible—even if it puts your dog’s health at risk.

The U.S. government is letting China get away with it

Will our own government step in and stop this?

That’s unlikely. Here in the U.S.A., the government places no legal restrictions on the use of toxic fillers or chemicals in dog beds—despite the fact that the Chinese-made dog bed in your living room or bedroom could be illegal to manufacture on American soil.

The U.S. has clearly stated environmental and labor safety regulations on its books that protect U.S. workers from coming into direct contact with many of the substances that are used in Chinese manufacturing—and added to dog bed foam. 4

So American workers often are required to wear protective equipment before coming into contact with the very same toxic substances that are present in the offending Chinese-made dog beds sold in the U.S. - the very same beds your dog is sleeping on, rolling around on, and breathing in fumes from on a daily basis.

This leaves us with the urgent question - who is going to protect our dogs?

Tricks the Chinese Factories Play on U.S. Pet Owners

Unfortunately, there is close to zero regulation of purity or safety in the Chinese foam manufacturing industry. 5

To maximize profits, many manufacturers take advantage of this by adding unsafe fillers to their foam during the pouring process in order to produce beds that appear thick and feel heavy.

Dangerous fillers such as clay, stone dust, and lead create the false illusion of high-density foam, which commands a higher price. 6

Another deceptive production trick for manufacturing inexpensive foam is to layer cheap memory foam with other substandard foam and ingredients. 7 In reality, the relatively low retail price of Chinese foam reflects the actual low resilience of the foam, which usually cannot withstand heavy compression or maintain its comfort or shape over time.

If you are buying expensive “orthopedic” dog beds with the intention of lessening the suffering of a dog with arthritis, degenerative joint disease, or other painful conditions, it’s important to understand that substandard Chinese foam is unlikely to be protecting your dog even on day one; the low-quality foam most of these beds are made of does not and cannot protect a dog’s sensitive pressure points from secretly making painful contact with the hard floor below.

Equally, if you are having to continually replace these expensive beds because they flatten like pancakes, you are—unwittingly—throwing money down the drain on products that really can’t help your dog.

Is My Chinese-Made Bed Slowly Poisoning My Dog?

Many Chinese factories utilize banned or toxic chemicals as flame retardants and pest deterrents, and they are under no obligation to disclose their use of these hazardous substances.8

So, why is this dog bed scandal finally getting the attention it deserves?

It’s due to a landmark study conducted by The Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental organization based in Michigan. In this study, which has remained largely overlooked until recently, a series of tests was conducted that revealed the full horror of what actually finds its way into Chinese-made dog beds.

This study became even more important since the The U.S. government doesn't require full testing of the chemicals that are added to most consumer products.

So the Ecology Center has become a leading independent voice and advocate for consumer health. And in this instance, animal health.

As the Ecology Center remarks on its website, a product will not necessarily be recalled or taken off of shelves just because it’s found to contain toxins:

“...once [toxic products] are on the market, the government almost never restricts their use, even in the face of new scientific evidence suggesting a health threat. Because children, adults and pets can be exposed to chemicals from many sources, and because the effects of some chemicals are cumulative, it is important to look at the whole picture concerning chemicals and health. The law that's supposed to do this, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, is outdated…”

Here’s some of the disturbing “toxic” dog bed findings from the analysis undertaken by the Ecology Center:

Naturally, these results paint a frightening picture of the toxins that could be slowly but surely having a cumulative impact on the health of your dog.

Unless you know otherwise, your safest bet is to assume that your Chinese-made dog bed contains toxic substances that your dog is inhaling and absorbing through their skin on a daily basis.

And even if you see a “Made In The U.S.A.” label on a dog bed, you are not necessarily in the clear; in some (unethical) cases, that can mean the bed was assembled in America—but the foam inside could still be tainted Chinese foam.

The Poisons Found in Made-in-China Dog Beds

The following is a list of toxins the Ecology Center found in dog beds being sold in America:

So, how can you stop your dog coming close to any dangerous foam?

Thankfully, consumers do have a solution.

Always being on the lookout for third-party CertiPUR-US® “Foam Certification” is key.

Dog beds are not regulated by the U.S. government, but a select few companies - like our company, Big Barker - do comply with voluntary industry standards.

Self-regulating companies often use the federal levels for children’s products or the European pet standards, but compliance is inconsistent. Standards vary among producers of pet products as well as the stores that sell pet products. 17

The most reliable way to choose a safe bed for your dog is to look for the CertiPUR-US® seal

Administered by a not-for-profit organization, CertiPUR-US® is a certification program for flexible polyurethane foam used in bedding and upholstered furniture. 23

All Big Barker beds have been certified through the CertiPUR-US® program

The majority of dog beds sold to US consumers are NOT certified by CertiPUR-US®

This may leave your dog at risk if they’re sleeping on a bed that contains lead, arsenic, or other harmful materials that have been found in non-certified pet products.

Enrollment in the CertiPUR-US® certification testing program is voluntary, and almost all of the participating companies produce or sell products for humans.

However, here at Big Barker — as the leading independent manufacturer of dog beds in the USA — we’ve made it a central part of our mission to meet the strict CertiPUR-US® standards for all the dogs we serve.

Therefore, the American made, certified flexible polyurethane foam used in all Big Barker products meets CertiPUR-US® standards for content, emissions and durability, and is analyzed by independent, accredited testing laboratories.

These criteria are exactly the same for pet products as they are for people.

That means that Big Barker products are:

Big Barker beds only use American made foam that’s certified by CertiPUR-US®

Insider tip: a few unethical companies display the CertiPUR-US® logo on their websites without actually being verified by CertiPUR-US®! To make 100% sure that your dog bed is safe, please investigate by looking at the updated list of approved companies containing certified foam:

How To Protect Your Best Friend

If you’ve gotten this far, you now probably know more about the hidden dangers of America’s dog beds than many veterinarians!

Since your dog can’t tell you when he’s feeling ill or is in pain, and because the impact of toxic chemicals can be cumulative, choosing a safe and supportive bed becomes paramount to safeguarding a dog’s quality of life and ensuring his health over the long term.

Armed with the right information, you can give him a bed that is truly supportive and free of toxic substances.

Visit to learn more about America’s top rated, CertiPUR-US® certified dog bed

Our Promise To You

American Made. Impeccable Safety Standards. Certified by CertiPUR-US®.

I trust this bed with Hank's health. Try it for a year. If you don't feel the same sense of pride that I do when you see your own dog resting peacefully on their new bed, let me know, and you won't pay a penny.

Author Eric Shannon, Founder of Big Barker, with his dog Hank

1 - “Dog Food Recalls: Is Your Brand on the List?”
2 The Independent - “Netizens rally in defense of event that will see 10,000 cats and dogs slaughtered” by Jaime Fullerton
3 Atlanta Journal Constitution - “Selecting the Ideal Orthopedic Dog Bed for Your Dog” by Sabine Morrow
4 Mattress Inquirer - “6 Questions To Ask When Buying a Memory Foam Mattress”
5 Rocky Mountain Mattress - “American vs. Chinese Made Memory Foam”
6 Mattress Mythbuster - “When Savings Cost You More Than Money?”
7 Healthy Foundations - “Memory Foam Buyer's Guide”
8 Mattress Inquirer - “6 Questions To Ask When Buying a Memory Foam Mattress”
9 Ecology Center - “Archived Pet Supply Data”
10 Toy Industry Association - “Update on Changes to ASTM F963 - The U.S. Toy Safety Standard” by Al Kaufman
11 Environmental Protection Agency - “What are the EPA’s drinking water regulations for disinfectants like chlorine?”
12 Lost in Science - “Death by Chocolate”
13 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health - “Antimony Toxicity” by Shyam Sundar and Jaya Chakravarty
14 - “Arsenic Poisoning in Dogs”
15 Merck Veterinary Manual - “Chlorine Bleaches” by Dr. Sharon M. Gwaltney-Brant, DVM, PhD
16 - “Symptoms of formaldehyde exposure” by Dr. S. Bindu Anand
17 The Bark - “Beware of Lead and Toxic Dog Toys” by Lisa McCormick
18 Merck Veterinary Manual - “Overview of Lead Poisoning”by Dr. Barry R. Blakley, DVM, PhD
19 Merck Veterinary Manual - “Overview of Mercury Poisoning” by Dr. Barry R. Blakley, DVM, PhD
20 Environmental Working Group - “Polluted Pets”
21 Whole Dog Journal - “The Dangers of Vinyl Dog Toys” by Susan Weinstein
22 - “Acute Tin Poisoning”
23 CertiPUR-US - “Who We Are”
24 CertiPUR-US - “Foam That Feels Good and You Can Feel Good About”