Certain dog toys contain chemicals that studies suggest could lead to health problems in your dog, according to a presentation this week at the Society of
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference held in California.
The worst offenders appear to be plastic fetching batons, called "bumpers," which are used to teach dogs how to retrieve.
"In the process of training a lab, you do a
lot of work with these plastic bumpers," co-author Phil Smith was quoted as saying in a press release. "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
Smith, who raises and trains Labrador retrievers, and hunts with them as well, is an associate professor of
at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University. He worked on the study with colleague Kimberly Wooten.
Smith and Wooten suspected that bumpers, and other dog toys, could
leach phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) into the mouths and bodies of dogs. The chemicals are used to give
elasticity to plastic and
vinyl and are known endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen or act as
anti-androgens. Studies indicate they could lead to negative health effects.
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To test for the chemicals, the researchers created
simulated dog saliva, then simulated chewing by squeezing purchased bumpers
and dog toys with stainless steel salad tongs. Some bumpers and toys were also weathered outside to determine if older toys gave off more chemicals.
"We found that the 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."
Wooten explained that BPA and phthalates can have effects on
developing fetuses and can have a lifelong effect on offspring of lab
animals. Studies on humans have resulted in mixed conclusions, but concern was enough to warrant the U.S. government banning the use of BPA in baby
bottles this year.
Questions still remain about how much of these chemicals actually leach into a dog's mouth during play.
"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