We have often heard that canned pet food is healthier than kibble, and in many respects this is absolutely true. However, canned pet food poses its own health risks – not necessarily from what is in the food, but rather from what the food is in. Canned food products are lined with a material containing BPA, a chemical that has become a topic of controversy over the past few years, prompting many companies to create BPA-free products. While you may strive to avoid BPA in your own products, have you ever wondered what the dangers of BPA for dogs and cats are and how you can protect your canine and feline companions from BPA exposure?
What is BPA?
BPA stands for bisphenol A and is a widely used industrial chemical commonly found in household items, including plastic products. It is also a component of epoxy resins that are used to line the inside of metal cans, including dog and cat food cans. Research has shown that BPA in canned food products may actually leach into the food itself, and in turn get into the system of those consuming the food. This is where the dangers of canned pet food occur. (1)
Let’s take a look at why keeping BPA out of your pet’s (and your own) food is so important.
BPA Health Risks
Some research has found that exposure to BPA can have damaging effects on the brain, as well as the prostate gland and behavior of unborn babies, as well as young children. Other studies have found that BPA exposure may also be linked to an increase in blood pressure.
The concern with BPA has been significantly linked to fetuses as well as children. The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), examined BPA levels in more than 2,000 urine samples of participants over the age of six. The conclusion: 93% of the samples contained BPA. This survey is viewed as being representative of the amount of exposure we have to BPA in the United States. (2)
BPA has also been linked to other serious health issues, including:
- Hormone Imbalance: Some experts have concluded that BPA can behave like a hormone in the body. This could potentially cause disruptions in normal hormone balance.
- Cancer: Some animal studies show a potential link between BPA and cancer, including the potential for an increase in cancer risk down the road. (3)
Keep in mind that many of these studies have been done on animals. If animal studies are showing such devastating effects of BPA, it’s important to take these results seriously and do everything we can to lower – or completely eliminate – our dog or cat’s exposure to this toxic chemical.
Troubling Canned Pet Food and BPA Levels Study in Dogs
A recent study of the effects of canned food on dogs revealed some troubling results with respect to BPA levels (and presumably would apply to cats as well, although they were not tested).
The study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, took 14 healthy dogs who were used to eating kibble from a bag and fed them canned food. The study found that the dogs who consumed the canned dog food – including canned food claiming to be BPA-free – had increased levels of BPA in their blood after just two weeks on the canned food. In fact, their blood levels were nearly triple that of their baseline levels taken prior to the study – and that’s after just two weeks of eating the canned food. The researchers from the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine found that the BPA levels were also linked to changes in both the dogs’ gut microbiome and metabolism. An increase in BPA was also found to potentially reduce one specific bacterium that helps metabolize BPA as well as other environmental chemicals. (4)(5)
The bottom line is that BPA is not something you want to expose your dog or cat (or yourself) to any more than is necessary. While studies are still being conducted on the dangers of this chemical, there is enough troubling research to warrant steering clear of it.
How to Protect Your Dog or Cat from the Dangers of Canned Pet Food
For now, it’s best to stay away from anything containing BPA, and canned foods are a major culprit. This is one more reason that fresh food is always best. Feeding your dog or cat fresh food is one of the best steps you can take for helping them to achieve and maintain optimal health. It’s also the only way to control the ingredients.
Here are a couple of other ways to avoid contaminating your dog’s or cat’s food or water with BPA:
- Avoid plastic feeding or drinking bowls
- If you prepare your pet’s food, avoid storing it in plastic containers.
- Choose your pet’s toys carefully. Remember that many dog and cat toys are plastic, so you may want to reconsider some of these options. Also, avoid toys made in China.
BPA is a known chemical health hazard and it is best to keep it away from your dog or cat in any form. If you are thinking about switching your pet’s food or just want to make healthier choices for your pet, consider limiting or removing their canned food and go for a more natural and fresh option. When you control what goes into your pet’s food – and what your pet’s food goes in – you don’t have to worry so much about exposure to chemicals such as BPA.
As always, I hope that you found this article helpful and that it serves to help you and your four-legged companion enjoy many healthy, happy years together.Do you have something to add to this story? Voice your thoughts in the comments below!