Is Plywood Safe for Parrots and Other Small Pets?
Over the last couple of years, we have seen more and more bird toys and parts coming from China that are made with plywood, which has long been regarded as a staunch no-no in the parrot world. Unfortunately, in recent months, we’ve now noticed a surge in USA-based companies using it as well. This writing is to address our concerns about the usage of this product and to hopefully make it a bit easier for you, a parrot owner, to make your own informed decision regarding the safety and use of plywood.
If you’d rather get straight to the heart of the matter, please skip to the end of this article to read an ingredient list of “pet safe plywood.”
Please note: Our concerns are not just for parrot toys, but also toys for rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs and other small pets who benefit from chewing wood. We’ve seen quite a bit of plywood chew toys being marketed to bunny and other pet owners as well.
In the nearly thirty years that we have been making and selling bird toys, all research has shown that the glue used in the manufacturing process of making plywood is not safe for birds, and that is why we have never used it in our products. It was recently brought to our attention that some sellers are using a name brand plywood that was marketed as pet safe due to the fact that the plywood manufacturer was using a “special soy-based, non-toxic glue.”
This piqued our interest, so I contacted this plywood company for more information, as I always do extensive research on any item before we offer it for sale. After a couple of weeks, we received a response back and inside were several red flags.
By their response (which I would love to share with you, but a confidentiality notice was attached to the end of the email, so I can only share the gist of what was said. Another red flag?), we will continue to NOT carry plywood products of any kind. Are they using soy-based glues? YES. Are these soy-based glues safe? We don’t believe so. Here’s why:
In a nutshell, not only was it apparent that this company knew absolutely nothing about parrots (we were "informed" that only rocks and ceramics are parrot safe), but it was stated that the glues used in their plywood have never been tested for toxicity to animals. The reply in it’s entirely was somewhat bizarre, but the impression that we got from it was that they know the glue might not be safe for animals, but would rather spend nine paragraphs explaining why everything else in the world is unsafe for birds rather than admit this.
While we would love to be able to use plywood due to it’s ease of use and cost-effectiveness, which would ultimately allow us to offer you a less expensive product, I will not use material unless I am completely sure that it’s safe for our furry and feathered family members. Unless someone can show me some research (by all means, PLEASE send it our way!) about any type of plywood products that are safe for animals to chew on, we will continue to use only fresh sourced solid wood that we mill ourselves for our toys and stick with using plywood for our human items (such as ornaments, home decor and other gift items) ONLY.
For your own research purposes, here is the list of ingredients in the glue used to make “pet safe” plywood. We think they speak for themselves.
Defatted Soy Flour; Magnesium oxide (MgO); Hexanedioic acid, polymer with N-(2-aminoethyl)-1,2-ethanediamine and (chloromethyl)oxirane; Polyvinyl acetate; Monopotassium Phosphate; Corn Starch; Glycerin; Borax; Calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2)
How can I tell if a piece of wood is solid or made from plywood?
This can be a little tricky, but with a keen eye, you can normally spot plywood pretty easily if you look close enough. The key is to look at the edge of the wood itself, where it has been cut. If it's plywood, there will be tiny "layers" of wood, and sometimes hollow pockets where the glue didn't completely adhere two pieces together. Also, if a company lists an item being made with "baltic birch", this is normally an indicator that it's made of plywood and not solid wood.
We hope that with all of the disinformation out there, that this may help you make a more informed decision on whether you feel comfortable giving your pets "soy-based" glues that are found in plywood, or not.
All the Best,