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  • « EARTH DAY COUNTDOWN: The (Green) Maelstrom | Main | EARTH DAY COUNTDOWN: More Money-Saving Eco Tips »

    EARTH DAY COUNTDOWN - Make the Earth Friendly for Pets, Too

    Cat_2  This Earth Day, it’s important to consider the environment not only for its impact on Mother Nature and our human health, but our favorite furry companions as well. In the first study of its kind, Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that companion cats and dogs are polluted with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns. Here are some excerpts from their recent news release:

    The 20 dogs and  40 cats EWG studied were contaminated with 48 of 70 industrial chemicals tested. Average levels of many chemicals were substantially higher in pets than is typical for people, with 2.4 times higher levels of stain-and grease-proof coatings (perfluorochemicals) in dogs, 23 times more fire retardants (PBDEs) in cats, and more than 5 times the amounts of mercury, compared to average levels in people found in national studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and EWG.

    “Like humans, pets are also exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis, and as this investigation found, are contaminated at higher levels,” said Jane Houlihan, VP for Research at EWG. “The presence of chemicals in dogs and cats sounds a cautionary warning for the present and future health of children as well. This study demonstrating the chemical body burden of dogs and cats is a wake-up call for stronger safety standards from industrial chemical exposures that will protect all members of our families, including our pets.”

    Dog_2  "This study shows that our pets are susceptible to the absorption of potentially harmful chemicals from our environment just as we are. Perhaps even more troubling is that these chemicals have been found in higher levels in pets than in humans, implying potential harmful consequences for their health and well being and the need for further study," said Dr. John Billeter, DVM, the veterinarian who conducted the animal tests. 

    Just as children ingest pollutants in tap water, play on lawns with pesticide residues, or breathe in an array of indoor air contaminants, so do their pets. But with their compressed lifespans, developing and aging seven or more times faster than children, pets also develop health problems much more rapidly. Pets, like infants and toddlers, have limited diets and play close to the floor, often licking the ground as well as their paws, greatly increasing both their exposures to chemicals and the resulting health risks.

    Under current federal law, chemical companies do not have to prove chemicals are safe before they are used in products, including pet toys and other products for our companion animals. For pets as for people, the result is a body burden of complex mixtures of industrial chemicals never tested for
    safety. Health problems in pets span high rates of cancer in dogs and skyrocketing incidence of hyperthyroidism in cats. Genetic changes can't explain the increases in certain health problems among pets, leaving scientists to believe that chemical exposures play a significant role.

    View the complete research at EWG. 

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    Anne Keefe

    My sister has 2 cats that both have thyroid problems. They both have eating disorders and seem to have the most sensitive stomachs of any cats I have ever known. One cat in particular lives in the couch because she is scared to death of the dog. The fire retardant in the couch has resulted in both cats having thyroid problems. It is a real shame our defenseless animals have to be exposed to not only harmful food, but to other high levels of toxins in their environment.

    Dagny McKinley

    First of all, I have to say I love the name of your blog. Brilliant!

    I've done a lot of research on pesticides and the cancer causing agents in them and this post is exactly right, animals are exposed to fresh pesticides as they play on recently sprayed lawns. As well, they bring it into the house on their paws. We've had two pets die of cancer I believe is related to pesticides. I started a website to share information on pesticides and alternatives for treating your lawn: www.alternative-lawncare.com.

    Thanks,
    Dagny McKinley

    Diane MacEachern

    Thank you both for writing. I have two cats, and one of them -- the one that never goes outside -- has thyroid problems that have become quite severe. Until I saw this study, it never occurred to me it might be from chemicals in the furniture or on the carpeting. I have a dog, too. Fortunately, we've just replaced the carpeting with a wood floor and a rug that hasn't been treated with fire retardants. I hope it's not too late to protect her.

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