Using stainless steel salad tongs and simulated doggie drool, a Texas Tech researcher conducted tests on dog toys and determined some of them, under chewing-like conditions, leach chemicals that could harm dogs.
Phil Smith, an asssociate professor of terrestrial ecotoxicology — say that three times fast — presented his findings this week at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference held in California.
Among the toys tested, the worst offenders appear to be plastic fetching batons, or bumpers, which are used to teach dogs how to retrieve, according to a report on his findings by Discovery.com.
Smith, who raises Labrador retrievers, uses bumpers often, and got to wondering whether — with all the reports of dangerous chemicals in plastic — they were causing harm.
“In the process of training a Lab, you do a lot of work with these plastic bumpers,” Smith said in a press release. “I have a lot of bumpers in my garage, and they spend a lot of time in the mouths of my retrievers … Since we all care about our dogs, and we want them to be as healthy and smart and well-behaved as possible, we decided to look into this.”
Smith and Kimberly Wooten, his colleague at Texas Tech University, suspected that bumpers and other dog toys could leach phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) into the mouths and bodies of dogs. The chemicals are what give elasticity to plastic and vinyl and they are known endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen or act as anti-androgens, according to Discovery.com.
To test for the chemicals, the researchers created simulated dog saliva, then simulated chewing by squeezing dog toys with stainless steel salad tongs. Toys were also weathered outside to determine if older toys gave off more chemicals.
“We found that the aging or weathering the toys increased concentrations of BPA and phthalates,” Smith said. “The toys had lower concentrations of phthalates than the bumpers, so that’s good news. But they also had some other chemicals that mimicked estrogen. We need to find out what those are.”
Wooten said that BPA and phthalates can have effects on developing fetuses. Studies on humans have resulted in mixed conclusions, but raised enough concern that the U.S. government banning the use of BPA in baby bottles this year.
“The interaction of pet health and environmental chemicals is understudied,” Wooten said. “What may be a safe dose for one species isn’t always a good measure for another species. But the amount of BPA and phthalates we found from the bumpers would be considered on the high end of what you might find in children’s toys.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baby bottles, batons, bpa, bumpers, chemicals, chewing, childrens toys, conference, dangerous, dog toys, dogs, environmental, fetching batons, golden, harmful, hazards, hunting, labrador, leach, pets, phil smith, phthalates, plastic, plastic dog toys, retrievers, safety, science, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, terrestrial ecotoxicology, tests, texas tech, toxic, toxins, toys, training, warning
We haven’t warned you this year, as Halloween approaches, about chocolate and other candies that can harm your dog, assuming that by now you already know all that.
But you may not know about toxic toads.
It only took about half an hour for Deborah Barrett’s dog, a Jack Russell terrier named Willie, to die after he bit a Bufo marinus toad in his back yard last week.
“It was as big as a salad plate. My dog killed it, and when he came inside, within five minutes he went into convulsions, Barrett told Patch.com in Temple Terrace, which is outside Tampa.
Barrett said Willie died in the car on the way to an animal hospital.
The City of Temple Terrace is cautioning pet owners to watch out for the Bufo marinus toads, an invasive species that has taken hold in Florida. The gray-brown toads secrete a powerful toxin from their glands that can be poisonous to dogs, cats and other animals that bite them, and even people who handle them.
Small dogs are the most at risk, veterinarians say.
“Once they start having seizures, if you don’t address it quickly, it can cause massive brain damage,” said Dr. Paul Langston, of the Temple Terrace Animal & Bird Hospital.”If you can get them (to the vet) quickly, they’ll usually be OK.”
If you suspect your pet has bitten a Bufo toad, veterinarians advise rinsing its mouth and paws with water and seeking veterinary help immediately.
As with the mushrooms we told you about last week, the toads are being seen in higher numbers because of heavy rains.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bufo marinus, caution, dangers, deadly, death, deborah barrett, dogs, florida, halloween, hazard, health, heavy rains, jack russell terrier, marijuana, mushrooms, pets, poison, rain, temple terrace, toad, toads, toxic, toxic toads, toxins, warning, willie
The Food and Drug Administration has logged 900 reports of illnesses and deaths since November, when it warned owners about continued problems with the products — all made in China — known as chicken jerky strips, treats and nuggets, a spokesperson said.
Last November, the agency had heard from 70 owners about problems ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to kidney failure after animals consumed the treats. Since then, complaints from owners and reports from veterinarians have mounted steadily, putting pressure on the FDA to solve the problem, MSNBC reports.
The agency sent inspectors earlier this year to Chinese factories where the treats are made, but no results of those reviews are yet available, an FDA spokesperson said Monday. Despite repeated tests since 2007, FDA scientists have been unable to detect any toxin responsible for the animal illnesses.
Three brands mentioned in the consumer complaints are Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brands, marketed by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., and Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, sold by the Del Monte Corp.
Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats are produced and supplied by JOC Great Wall Corp. Ltd. of Nanjing, China.
Both manufacturers have insisted their chicken jerky treats are sound and that any illnesses are unrelated to the products.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, brands, canyon creek ranch, chicken, chicken jerky, chicken jerky treats, china, chinese, dog treats, factories, fda, food and drug adminstration, health, home-style, jerky, milos kitchen, nestle purina, pets, research, safety, study, tainted, tests, toxins, treats, waggin train
A killer whale poops. It floats to the surface (and we don’t mean the whale.) A dog on a boat sniffs it out. Humans gather it up, and take it to the lab for analysis.
It’s not an entirely natural cycle of nature — but when all is said and done, or sniffed out and scrutinized, researchers in the Puget Sound hope it may help explain what’s killing off our killer whales, and maybe hold some clues to how our planet is doing as well.
Scientists aren’t certain why Orcas, placed on the endangered species list in 2005, aren’t recovering. Some suspect it’s a lack of food, or that boat traffic and pollution are to blame. But they think an answer maybe found in whale poop, and have turned to a dog to help find samples for analysis.
“It looks kind of like a combination of algae and snot. It varies in color, but it’s very mucusy,” Sam Wasser, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, explained on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Via the feces, Wasser says, “we can measure the diet of the animal. We can get toxins from the feces, DNA so we can tell the individual’s identity, its species, its sex — and all of this is in feces.
He describes whale poop as “literally a treasure trove of information.”
Wasser, who has turned to “scat detection” dogs for help with other projects, is being helped out on this one by Tucker, an 8-year-old black Lab mix.
They are focused on San Juan Island’s Snug Harbor, and as they cruise out on their research boat, Tucker stands at the bow. If there’s whale poop around — even in the distance — he lets his trainer, Liz Seely, know by acting excited.
“…He’ll start standing up on the bow, wagging his tail, getting really animated,” she said.
His reward for accurately detecting floating whale feces? A game of fetch.
The research team will collect samples from killer whales through the summer. Already, they’ve been able to show that during periods of high traffic, like around he 4th of July, the whales have higher levels of stress hormones in their feces.
They can also tell when the whales are undernourished and study how that might affect fertility rates.
Killer whales are believed to have the highest concentrations of toxic substances of any creature on the planet.
Given how we humans are responsible for that, scooping their poop seems truly the least we can do. And finding some answers within it, with help from a dog, could turn out not just to help the whales, but us as well.
(Photo: Ashley Ahearn / KUOW)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: all things considered, analysis, animals, boat, center for conservation biology, dog, dogs, endangered, feces, fertility, food, killer whales, liz seely, orcas, pets, poop, project, puget sound, research, sam wasser, scat-detecting, species, stress, testing, toxins, trainer, tucker, university of washington, washington, waste