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Our dogs and cats may be exposed to harmful indoor chemicals

Pets often become integral parts of our family, especially if they spend the majority of their time within our homes. However, studies have shown that – compared to outdoor pets – pets that primarily stay indoors have higher rates of diseases like diabetes, hypothyroidism, and kidney diseases. One new study published in American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology proposes that chemical substances in the home may contribute to these diseases.

ACS researchers examined pets’ exposure to parabens – preservative chemicals commonly found in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. These substances are endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), which research has shown to possibly interfere with hormones and cause harmful effects on developmental, reproductive, and neurological systems.

Prior studies have analyzed the presence of other EDCs, like heavy metals and bisphenol A, in pet food. However, little is known about the presence of parabens in these foods. The researchers of this study examined 58 variations of commercially available dog and cat foods, as well as 60 urine samples from individual animals. From their analysis, they found that methyl paraben and the metabolite called 4-hydroxybenzoic acid were the most abundant chemicals detected in both pet food and urine.

Results also showed that dry food contained higher levels of parabens and their metabolites than wet food. Furthermore, cat food had higher paraben concentrations than dog food. Following their urine analysis, the researchers were able to calculate that dogs are exposed to other sources of parabens, while cats’ exposure comes mainly from their diet.

While they don’t definitively say that the discovery of these paraben levels are directly linked to certain diseases, the researchers do note that they believe this is the first time the occurrence of these substances has been reported in pet food and urine in the United States.

By Connor Ertz, Staff Writer

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