A research team at Texas Tech University has studied the levels of phthalates and bisphenol A (known as BPA) in dog training batons and other plastic toys. They presented their findings at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference held in California.
The research was conducted by Kimberly Wooten, a master’s student using the project as her thesis, and Phil Smith, an associate professor of terrestrial ecotoxicology. Smith also raises and trains Labradors.
“In the process of training a lab, you do a lot of work with these plastic bumpers. I have a lot of bumpers in my garage, and they spend a lot of time in the mouths of my retrievers. Well, lots of attention has been given to chemicals in plastics lately regarding their effects on humans. 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.”
BPA are used to give elasticity to plastic and vinyl and are known endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen or act as anti-androgens and could lead to negative health effects. In 2012, the US Government banned the use of these chemicals in baby bottles.
Training bumpers had higher levels of BPA than toys; but weathered and aged toys released more BPA than newer ones.
The research raises a number of questions, but it is hard to compare results because so few studies have been done – particularly in the area of how much of the BPA actually enters the dog’s system.
“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.”