Recent research has revealed the worrying effects that household chemicals can have on our family’s health. A new US study has now also found that chemicals could be affecting the health of other family members — our pets — increasing the risk of disease for indoor cats and dogs.
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It is already known that pets who spend most of their time indoors can have increased rates of diseases, such as diabetes, kidney diseases and hypothyroidism compared with those who live outside, with some proposing that it is the levels of chemicals in the home which could increase the risk of illness for indoor animals.
To investigate the possibility that parabens could be negatively affecting the health of our animals, Kurunthachalam Kannan of the New York State Department of Health, along with researchers from the State University of New York at Albany and King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia, examined 58 variations of dog and cat food and 60 urine samples to see if animals were exposed to parabens through their diet.
Parabens are preservatives commonly found in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products, although the use of parabens in human, dog, and cat food is regulated by the U. Food & Drug Administration.
Previous research has shown that parabens are endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) which can potentially interfere with hormones and be harmful to health, affecting the developmental, reproductive and neurological systems.
Although previous studies have looked at whether other EDCs, such as heavy metals and bisphenol A, are present in pet food, very few have focused on parabens in pet food.
The new study however found that parabens, especially methyl paraben (MeP) and their metabolites were found in all of the 58 pet foods analyzed and all of the 60 urine samples.
In addition, the team found that dry food contained higher levels of parabens and their metabolites than wet food, and cat food had higher paraben concentrations than dog food.
However, after the urine analysis the team concluded that dogs are exposed to other sources of parabens, not only from their food, whereas cats’ exposure is mainly from their diet.
The team noted that to their knowledge, this is the first time the occurrence of these substances has been reported in pet food and urine in the US.
The results can be found published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.