Tuesday, April 28, 2009

High Chemical Levels in Our Pets

Are Chemicals Threatening Our Pets Lives?

In the past we all took notice of the articles pertaining to our children and the risks chemicals posed to their well being. We all took this realization very seriously, educated ourselves and child proofed our homes. So why wouldn't we do the same for our four legged friends?

Today we are taking it a step further and looking at our adorable pets and the risks they face. Just like young children, our animals play on lawns with pesticide residue, ingest pollutants in tap water and breathe indoor air contaminants. With their shorter life spans, pets also may develop health problems from these exposures sooner than people would.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released results of a new study that found high levels of industrial chemicals in our pets. They pooled samples of blood and urine from 20 dogs and 37 cats. What they found was alarming with 48 of the 70 industrial chemicals tested. The average levels of many of the chemicals were higher then is typical for people. Cats showed more than 5 times the amount of mercury, compared with average levels in people. Pathologist, Lawrence McGill, DVM at ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City, Utah, made the comment, "I am worried about the mercury exposure in cats. A lot of people feed fish to their cats as a source of protein." He suggested that perhaps cats should eat less fish, just as pregnant women and children are advised to avoid eating certain fish.

Cat samples contained 46 chemicals, including 9 carcinogens, 40 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system, 34 neurotoxins and 15 chemicals toxic to the endocrine system. Endocrine toxins raise particular concerns for cats because hyperthyroidism is a leading cause of illness in older cats.

Pet's unique behaviors may place them at risk for higher exposures from chemical pollutants at home. As cats groom themselves, they lick off accumulated dust that studies show can be contaminated with polybrominated diphenyl ethers and other harmful toxins. Vacuuming your house frequently and bathing your pets more often can help ward off contaminants. When using house-cleaning products on the floors remember to rinse them off well.

When going outdoors, McGill suggested wiping the animals paws and legs after taking it out, which may reduce outdoor environmental contaminants.

Pets face chemical exposures that in some ways are similar to those of infants and toddlers who have limited diets, play close to the floor and put their hands and household objects into their mouths far more often than adults do, according to the EWG.

Most importantly if you see anything that is abnormal, call your veterinarian's office. Also, bring your pet in every 6 months so your vet can examine your pet closely to catch any problems early.

For more on this study, go to ForumVet.com.

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