Dog Says We Pets Are Exposed To Toxic Chemicals Too

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Eddie is a dog that participated in EWG's environmental study about chemicals in pets. Eddie is concerened abous his health and the health of other dogs and cats and shares his concerns below.

My name is Eddie, I'm a dog on a mission.

When I teamed up with Environmental Working Group to test the chemical body burden of pets, we didn't really know what to expect. EWG has led the way in studies of human body burden, and we figured the results might look a lot alike since pets live and play in the same homes as humans. What the scientists actually found was that dogs and cats have much higher levels than humans of 43 different chemicals, and comparable levels of many, many others. We tested for 70 chemicals, and found 48.

There were three groups of chemicals, though, that really stood out. For certain fire retardant chemicals, stain and grease resistant chemicals, and plastic chemicals called phthalates, dogs and cats had higher rates than 80-100% of all the humans that have been tested. These classes of chemicals have been associated with cancer, reproductive and developmental risks, birth defects and thyroid problems. Not surprisingly, dogs have much higher rates than humans of several kinds of cancer (including skin cancer, bone cancer, breast tumors and leukemia), and hyperthyroidism is a leading cause of illness in older cats. Some people say it's genetic changes causing those problems, but animals just don't evolve quickly enough to account for the rise in illness we've seen. Scientists think exposure to toxic chemicals may be to blame.

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In a lot of ways, we pets are exposed to toxic chemicals the same way human toddlers are: we drink polluted tap water, play on lawns with pesticide residues, breathe in and swallow a lot of dust, and put things in our mouths that we probably shouldn't. Pet's lives are much shorter than people's, though, which means we develop illnesses from chemical exposures much sooner than our human companions. Scientists think that what makes us sick might give them clues about what makes people sick.

Of course, pets also have some unique sources of exposure. Did you know that products made specifically for us go mostly unregulated? The greaseproof lining of dry pet-food bags is a source of perfluorochemicals (PFCs), and other contaminants in pet food could be a source of daily exposure. Even though the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine has the authority to require food manufacturers to submit their ingredients for approval before they use them, they choose to let products go to market with untested ingredients and additives. The Consumer Product Safety Association, on the other hand, isn't even allowed to label products that may pose a risk to pets. When you get right down to it, there's no one checking our shampoo or our chew toys to make sure they're safe. No wonder we're full of chemicals!

The humans have made a mess, and we're all paying for it. It's time to clean things up! I'm fighting for change, and I need your help. We have to get the humans' government to make sure chemicals are safe before they're used in products. Be a Pet for the Environment and join the fight to protect the health of pets - and people too. They'll never listen to just one dog, but together we can make a lot of noise!

So, how about it? Are you a pet for the environment?

If you want to know more about EWG's pet body burden study, click here to read the full report on EWG's report.

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