Processed foods, particularly processed pet foods, are loaded with chemicals but not all of those chemicals are bad. So how do you know which chemicals are harmless for your dog and which ones you should avoid? All you can really do is stay up to date with the latest research and follow your veterinarian’s recommendations. One chemical that has recently found its way into the spotlight is BPA. Keep reading to learn more about what BPA is and whether you should be concerned about it as a dog owner.
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a type of industrial chemical that is used in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. For the most part, polycarbonate plastics are used to make containers for food and water storage (such as water bottles) and epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products like food cans. It is possible for BPA to seep into food and beverages from the container, especially if it is exposed to heat – that is why you shouldn’t put plastic in the microwave. Although the FDA has ruled that BPA is safe in low levels, higher levels of exposure have been linked to various health conditions including mental and behavioral problems, reproductive disorders, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
What Do Recent Studies Have to Say?
The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine recently performed a study of the effects of canned dog food on BPA levels in dogs. A total of fourteen healthy dogs were switched from a staple diet of kibble to one of two canned food diets for a period of two weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that the dogs’ BPA levels were three times higher than at the beginning of the study. That is a huge change and, potentially, a huge problem for dogs that eat canned food every day.
Hundreds of medical studies have forged a link between BPA and various health problems ranging from different forms of cancer to reproductive issues. But the jury is still out on whether it is the food itself or the packaging that causes BPA to make its way into a dog’s body. After receiving the initial results of the study, MU researchers performed additional tests which revealed that even dogs who received a canned food diet that was presumed BPA-free experienced a three-fold increase in BPA levels after two weeks.
What Does This Mean for Dogs?
The results of this study are certainly shocking, but there is more to be discovered. The study did not go so far as to determine the long-term effects of taking the dogs off the canned food diet or of keeping them on it longer. In previous rodent studies, it was found that prolonged exposure to a diet containing BPA resulted in higher accumulations in the rodents’ bodies over time. But in humans and primates, BPA is excreted from the body through urine so that it doesn’t accumulate quite so quickly. It is still unknown how BPA is cleared from the bodies of dogs.
While there is still more to be discovered about BPA and its effects on a dog’s body, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the effects may be harmful. Until more research is completed, you may want to consider limiting your dog’s exposure to BPA. If you keep your dog’s food in a plastic container, consider putting the entire bag inside the container. Think about switching your dog from plastic bowls to ceramic or stainless steel and choose your dog’s toys carefully.