With all the concerns about hazards of bisphenol A (more commonly known as BPA) and phthalates in consumer goods, especially kids’ toys and drinkware, you’d think we’d hear more about studies focusing on dog’s toys — because dogs spend years chewing on toys in saliva-filled mouths.
Finally, we are. And the results aren’t good, according to Environmental Heath News. Research done by Texas Tech University revealed that “bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates — ingredients of hard plastics and vinyl — readily leach from bumper toys, which are used to train retrieving dogs.” The study, presented last month at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference in California, “is one of the first to examine dog products as a potential source of exposure for pets.”
Bear in mind, however, that no one knows whether these chemicals are harmful to dogs — but that’s because their effects haven’t been studied. In humans and rodents, BPA and phthalates have been linked to a host of problems, including fertility issues, cancer, and impaired development of reproductive organs.
“Since little toxicity data exist for dogs, it is difficult to evaluate risks,” according to Philip Smith, a toxicologist at the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech.
Smith co-wrote the study. He came up with the idea for it while training his own Retrievers with bumper toys.
“Some of the dogs are exposed to plastic bumpers from the time they are born until the day they die,” he said. “We all want our pets to be healthy.”
The study tested bumpers in three scenarios — brand-new, left outside for a month, and chewed on — to discover how much BPA and phthalates leached from them into dishes filled with artificial dog saliva. The results? Chewed-on bumpers leached the most, and researches suspect the amount would be considered “very high when compared with children’s toys,” according to Environmental Heath News.
Interestingly, the study also looked at regular pet toys from major retailers and found that they leached less than the bumpers in the study. However, it warned that store-bought toys might leach “other hormonally active chemicals.”
If you haven’t considered purchasing BPA- and phthalate-free dog toys, perhaps this might move you to do so. Let’s hope the studies continue, which is the surest way to create change in the marketplace, as we’ve seen with kids’ toys and baby bottles.
“A lot of plastic products are used for dogs, so to understand the potential for some of the chemicals to leach out from toys is a new and important area of research,” said veterinarian Safdar Khan, senior director of toxicology research at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Poison Control Center in Illinois.