Common Dangers Lurking in your Home: Plastics, by Dr. Deborah Shores

 

Plastic has become an integral part of our world. It’s everywhere; in our homes, offices, and cars. Just look around and see how many things are made with plastic — keyboards, cell phones, calculators, dishes, pens, food containers, and much more. Scarily enough, plastic poses many dangers and hazards that you may not be aware of, for both you and your pet. 

 

Plastic contains a chemical called Bisephenol A., or BPA. BPA has several negative effects on both animals and humans who come in contact with it. Exposure to BPA can result in dangerous developmental, neurological, and endocrine health in infants and children. It is also linked to an incredible number of health problems, including diabetes, obesity, hyperactivity, prostate cancer, impaired immune system, impaired learning and memory, and Down’s syndrome.  

 

If BPAs have such a serious effect on humans, it is reasonable that it also has an effect on pets. Many products surrounding your dog are made with plastic, including bowls, dishes, toys, and crates. Almost all pet products are packaged in plastic, which can cause leaching of BPAs into the item. 

 

Puppies and young dogs may chew on plastic items, causing BPAs to directly enter their system. If your dog directly ingests plastic, it can result in major problems, such as stomach or intestinal perforation. To prevent this, place all plastic items out of your dog’s reach. Consider purchasing a metal or ceramic food and water dish for your dog.

 

A 2012 study performed by researchers at Texas Technical University found that “bumper toys,” a training tool used with retrieving dogs, readily leached BPAs. These retrieving dogs were exposed to this product for most of their lives. In an experiment, researchers simulated a dog chewing a bumper using artificial saliva. The results were that the bumpers subjected to simulated chewing leached higher amounts of BPAs.(1) 

 

Many dog toys also pose hazards, typically due to the lack of regulations on pet toys. The Consumer Product Safety Commission only regulates pet toys that can be proven to be a danger to humans — not dogs! So it’s important that you do your research before buying your dog a toy. Although leaching of BPAs is a definite concern, choking and stomach and intestinal obstruction are also extremely important. Tests performed by ConsumerAffairs.com found multiple mainstream toys with toxic heavy metals, including cadmium, chromium, and lead. Latex is also a danger. It is often used as an alternative to plastics; however it still contains phthalates and BPAs. Avoid toys that have been treated with fire retardants, as they contain hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde. For more information on the dangers of fire retardants to canines, view this article. (Link to fire retardants article). When choosing a toy for your pet, be sure to do proper research to ensure that is a safe option. 

Also, many commercial pet food companies line the cans of canned food with BPAs to prevent a metallic taste.(2) This is yet another reason to switch to a homemade diet for your dog. For more information on preparing a home diet, consult this article. 

Evaluate your home and your dog’s space for unnecessary or excess plastics. Try to limit your dog’s exposure to BPAs by switching to ceramic or metal food dishes, properly researching toys to find quality products, and feeding a homemade diet. 

 


Resources

  • Wooten, K., Smith, P. "Canine toys and training devices as sources of exposure to phthalates and bisphenol A: Quantitation of chemicals in leachate and in vitro screening for endocrine activity." Chemosphere 93.10 (2013).
  • Kang, J., and Kondo, F.. "Determination of bisphenol A in canned pet foods." Research in Veterinary Science 73.2 (2002): 177-182.


 

ABOUT DR. DEBORAH SHORES
Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida. 


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