Toys Containing BPA May Cause Obesity in Dogs, Study Finds · The Wildest

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Toys Containing BPA May Cause Obesity in Dogs, New Study Finds

The chemical has been linked to a variety of health problems in animals.

by Sio Hornbuckle
June 25, 2024
Small brown puppy chewing on plastic donut toy.
Sally Anscombe / Stocksy

Bisphenol A, aka BPA, is a chemical compound used in many plastics — and for years, it has been linked to a variety of health problems in humans and animals. For dogs, one potential source of exposure to BPA is also one of their greatest joys: their toy box. A new study published in Chemosphere finds that chewing on toys containing BPA may lead to obesity in dogs.

The dangers of BPA for dogs

BPA has been associated with a variety of health issues for years now. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that low levels of BPA are safe, some experts disagree. High levels of BPA have been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues. 

BPA also disrupts the endocrine system, causing hormonal changes. In dogs and humans, these changes have been associated with infertility.

One study investigated the impact of dogs eating canned food from containers containing BPA. Researchers found that when 14 pets were switched to a canned food diet, their BPA-levels increased three-fold. It also confirmed that BPA can affect an animal’s gut microbiome, which can lead to gastrointestinal, neurological, and immunological health problems, potentially including some cancers. 

Plus, what’s bad for the earth is bad for all of us. BPA is terrible for the environment; the Environmental Working Group states that it’s a major pollutant of the air, water, and soil. One study found that in high levels, BPA decreases photosynthesis in plants.

New research links some plastic toys to obesity

Researchers recently set out to find out more about BPA’s impact on dogs’ health. They found that when dogs chew toys containing BPA, the BPA is released into their saliva. It then alters certain gene receptors, leading to the creation of more fat cells. “Our findings suggest that companion dogs are at risk of BPA exposure, which may contribute to obesity in dogs,” Eun-Jung Park, the study’s lead author, wrote. 

Park adds that “the implementation of precautionary measures is crucial.” Luckily, many dog toys are BPA-free. West Paw is one petcare company making durable, elastic toys that are BPA- and Phthalate-free. Other non-plastic options, like toys made from wood, wool, or rope may be safer options, too. When looking for plush toys, keep in mind that the squeakers inside plush toys may be made of plastic, and some stuffing may be plastic. 

You can protect your pup by researching materials used to make the pet toys before purchasing. Keep in mind that there is currently no ban on BPA by the FDA, so FDA-approved dog products aren’t necessarily BPA-free.

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

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