Environmental hormones detected in animal feed

Dogs and cats take parabens over their food

Our four-legged friends can come into contact with animal hormones through animal feed. © Humonia / istock
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Foods that are contaminated: Food for dogs and cats appears to contain parabens in many cases. In random samples in the United States, researchers found the hormone-like chemicals in all the diets examined - and also found them in the urine of four-legged friends. How this burden on pets affects is unclear. But parabens are suspected of being quite safe.

Almost everywhere today, humans are exposed to potentially harmful chemicals that enter the food chain from the environment. The substances can be detected in marine mammals or fish, in the microplastic of our waters and even in breast milk. No wonder that even our permanent companions have long been burdened with such environmental chemicals: our pets.

Substances such as heavy metals or bisphenol A enter, among other things, canned foods in the body of dogs and cats - substances that can sometimes even interfere with the hormone balance. Researchers led by Rajendiran Karthikraj of the New York State Department of Health in Albany have now turned to another class of these environmental hormones, the parabens. Parabens are used in many everyday products mainly as a preservative. But do they also occur in animal feed?

Parabens in all samples

To test this, the scientists tested 58 different food variants - 23 for dogs and 35 for cats. In addition, they analyzed urine samples from 30 animals native to the US state of New York. Specifically, they searched for six parabens and five degradation products of these substances. And indeed, all samples contained parabens or related metabolites - both in the feed and in the urine.

Most commonly, the researchers detected methylparaben and the associated degradation product 4-hydroxybenzoic acid. The average total concentration of all substances measured was 1, 350 nanograms per gram diet in dog food, and even higher in cat foods at 1, 550 nanograms per gram. Dry food was usually heavier than fresh food. display

Feed is not the only source?

The peculiar thing: Although cats apparently eat more of these chemicals while eating, the urine of the stub tiger contained lower concentrations than the dog urine. Their excretions contained 30 times less parabens and seven times less degradation products. For the scientists, it is clear that our proverbial best friends also come in contact with the environmental hormones through other means. Cats, on the other hand, seem to be mainly exposed to parabens via food.

What does this burden mean for the four-legged friends? To what extent the environmental hormones could harm the animals, the team did not investigate. Theoretically, however, hormone-like substances can disrupt growth processes or fertility. Some scientists also associate the chemicals with a common occurrence of illnesses such as diabetes or kidney problems in pets. (Environmental Science & Technology, 2018; doi: 10.1021 / acs.est.7b05981)

(American Chemical Society, 08.03.2018 - DAL)