As breeders and especially NR breeders, we should be concerned about the many toxic chemicals/hormone disruptors lurking in our homes, kennels, catteries and grooming areas that are, what are called “Endocrine Disruptors”. Hormone or endocrine disruptors are in everything from household cleaning products (laundry soap, toilet cleaners, etc.), synthetic fragrances, personal care products (shampoo, deodorant, perfume, etc.), food packaging and even pet foods!
In biology class we learned that the body (of all vertebrates) are run by a network of hormones and glands that regulate everything. This network or system is called the endocrine system. While you may instantly think of the endocrine system in the context of puberty, it actually plays a much bigger role and in ALL phases of development, metabolism, and even behavior.
Synthetic chemicals used in the production of products like plastics, cosmetics and “fragrances” can mimic hormones and interfere with or disrupt the delicate endocrine workings. These hormone disruptive toxins cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune system effects in both humans and animals. We’re exposed to these chemicals daily, as are our dogs, cats, birds and all companion animals and the effects are intensified in the animals, due to their smaller body size.
A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, have been found to cause endocrine disruption, including pharmaceuticals, products with “fragrances” dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A (BPA).
Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds have been associated with a multitude of adverse health effects, including, not the least of effects, disruption of the endocrine system. Exposure to Dioxins or dioxin-like compounds have been associated with histological changes in the liver, thymus, and thyroid, along with increased serum testosterone levels to name a few.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs: )evidence suggests that exposure to PCBs is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers of the digestive tract, liver and skin. PCB exposure is also associated with reproductive deficiencies, such as reduced growth rates, retarded development, and certain neurological effects which may or may not persist beyond infancy. The immune system can also be affected, leading to increased infection rates, and changes in the skin such as chloracne and pigmentation disturbances.
Pesticides: Between 70 and 80 million pounds (some estimate quite a bit more than that) of pesticides are sprayed on home lawns, trees, and shrubs per year in the United States. Among these pesticides are chemicals including organophosphate and carbamates that are fat soluble allowing them to be quickly transmitted throughout the body. Dogs and cats are exposed to these chemicals from walking on lawns then licking contaminated fur. Some animals may even eat grass or shrubs that have been coated. Lawn pesticides have been linked to cancer in pets, nervous system disruption, respiratory failure, and serious digestive problems.
Flea and Tick “treatments” are also pesticides.
In 2014, CBC Marketplace discovered that more than 2,000 animals were reported to have died in North America since 2008 as a result of exposure to flea and tick treatment products, which for the most part, contain dangerous chemicals that may well kill fleas and ticks but they are toxic and can also harm the pets (ourselves and our children). the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), Health Canada received 4,726 incident reports for cats and dogs related to topical flea treatments between 2009 and 2013 that included deaths of 1,188 cats and 872 dogs. Many of the chemical used, contain pesticides that target the nervous systems of fleas and ticks, the pest must bite the animal to ingest the chemical that targets their nervous system. That means that the pet’s own nervous system is being affected by the toxic pesticide flowing through its veins and into all of its vital organs.
BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical used to line metal cans and is in ‘polycarbonate plastics’ such as baby bottles. “In rodents, BPA is associated with early sexual maturation, altered behavior, and effects on prostate and mammary glands. In humans, BPA is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and male sexual dysfunction in exposed workers. Food is a major exposure source.” http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es102785d
Young, growing animals and pregnant animals are especially vulnerable to the endocrine disrupting effects during phases of accelerated development—both in utero and throughout their growth periods as they mature.
Toxic environmental chemicals, including diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and polychlorinated bisphenol 153 (PCB153), have been detected in adult dog testes and get this, “… in commercial dog foods at concentrations reported to perturb reproductive function in other species”. *
*report entitled Environmental chemicals impact dog semen quality in vitro and may be associated with a temporal decline in sperm motility and increased cryptorchidism. (In Nature, Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 31281 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep31281).
Estrogen-mimicking, endocrine-disrupting chemicals have become virtually ubiquitous in many of the foods not just in what we consume, but some of which, along with their byproducts, are included in most manufactured pet foods; in the can-linings of moist, and in plastic bagging and wrapping of dry and semi-moist foods. Plastic may also be processed into the manufactured food along with spoiled or out-dated, discarded meats, packaging and all.
There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on the body:
- increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others
- imitating hormones;
- turning one hormone into another;
- interfering with hormone signaling;
- tells cells to die prematurely;
- compete with essential nutrients;
- bind to essential hormones;
- accumulate in organs that produce hormones
- impact dog semen quality in vitro
- associated with decline in sperm motility and increased cryptorchidism
- decline in the number of males born relative to the number of females born.
Here are the 12 worst hormone disruptors, called – The Dirty Dozen
Are there in any of the household or personal products listed that you use in your home or kennel?
I hope this information has got you thinking. Is it time to switch out your household cleaning products, personal care products, and possibly even your storage containers and food?
I would love to help you with suggestions on how to do this and what you can use in the place of these harmful, toxic products to work towards a safer, healthier environment for your dogs, cats, birds and human family.
Do you know a breeder or maybe even one of your kitten or puppy families that needs this information? Please share this blog post and share what it is to truly be a natural rearing breeder.
Just a few references and research links: