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Although some phthalates are banned from use in children’s products in the U.S., pregnant women are still exposed to phthalates used in consumer and personal care products.
Now, many of those same chemicals are being studied to understand the health outcomes of household pets.
There are so many misleading ads for eco-healthy pet toys but very little information about the contents of their ingredients. Do dog toys contain toxins that can enter your pet’s body?
Recently, a study presented at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry concluded that certain types of toys can be toxic to your pet.
Philip Smith, co-author of the study and an associate professor at Texas Tech University, also raises, trains and hunts with Labrador Retrievers.
Journey, our dog, is a Labrador. I was curious to learn more about his breed and their innate behavioral disposition and love to retrieve and fetch.
Smith and his colleague, Kimberly Wooten, suspected that certain types of toys, including “bumpers” or fetching batons that are used to teach dogs to retrieve, might contain toxins that could leak into the mouths and bodies of dogs.
This became worrisome to me as I am sure it would be to other pet owners whose dogs like to fetch. And what dog doesn’t?
In a press release Smith explained that: “In the process of training a lab, you do a lot of work with these plastic bumpers. I have a lot of bumpers in my garage, and they spend a lot of time in the mouths of my retrievers. Well, lots of attention has been given to chemicals in plastics lately regarding their effects on humans. Since we all care about our dogs, and we want them to be as healthy and smart and well-behaved as possible, we decided to look into this.”
Chemicals called phthalates as well as bisphenol A (BPA) are used in plastics manufacturing to provide elasticity to products. These substances are known endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen or act as anti-androgens.
Smith and his colleagues then conducted another study which later proved that older toys leached out more chemicals.
Watch Out for Aging, Weathered Toys.The study involved creating “faux” dog saliva and also simulated chewing action. The chewing was accomplished by squeezing the toys with salad tongs. Some of the toys were also left outside in the elements to see if older toys leached more chemicals.
“We found that aging or weathering the toys increased concentrations of BPA and phthalates,” Smith said. “The toys had lower concentrations of phthalates than the bumpers, so that’s good news. But they also had some other chemicals that mimicked estrogen. We need to find out what those are.”
According to Wooten, BPA and phthalates can impact a developing fetus and have lifelong effects on the offspring of lab animals. And the U.S. government banned the use of BPA in baby bottles.
“The interaction of pet health and environmental chemicals is understudied,” Wooten said. “What may be a safe dose for one species isn’t always a good measure for another species. But the amount of BPA and phthalates we found from the bumpers would be considered on the high end of what you might find in children’s toys.”
We know that these chemicals have been proven dangerous to humans. Dr. Theo Colborn’s book, Our Stolen Future discusses the impact of endocrine disruptors and what we need to do as a society to eliminate them.
Recently, we took a trip to Carmel By The Sea a quaint little town in California better known as the Dog Capitol of the World.
I bet there are more dogs per capita then people in Carmel California. Here’s why. There is a very special place called Diggidy Dog. It’s a boutique for both dogs and cats. We had a chance to discover Journey’s favorite new store. Watch!
Editor’s Notes: Finding Safer Toys for Your Pet
Photo Credit-LuxEcoLiving Travels with Journey
Look for toys labeled “BPA Free” or made in the U.S. from 100 percent natural rubber. Some manufacturers to check out: