In recent years, conscientious dog owners have examined every imaginable dog food ingredient to come up with what they have decided is the best recipe for their own particular dog. As was in the past as well, breeders have gotten in on the act advising their puppy buyers what formula seems to work well for their specific type of dog. Many advocate grain free and others feed only raw diet while still others cook up their own concoction. Heightened interest in what our dogs consume has also led to some much needed recalls on tainted dog foods and snacks.
As a trainer, I do not venture into the wide world of opinion on which food is best as this is not my field of expertise. I like to defer that topic to a discussion with one’s veterinarian. I occasionally, however, initiate the conversation if an owner is feeding a low quality food.
One area that has intrigued me lately however, is the potential danger of using the wrong type of dish with which to serve up your dog’s canine cuisine! Twice in the past weeks I have been sent a picture of a dog with a question asking, “do you know what this is?”, referring to an obvious abnormality on their dog’s face.
Both times I have checked with a veterinary expert and in both instances their first question was whether the dog had been eating from a plastic food bowl! Now, we have all heard the dangers of plastic affecting our own health, but our whole world is made of plastic! Beyond not drinking bottled water that has been sitting in our hot car, few of us have eradicated all Tupperware, plastic wrap, disposable diapers, etc. from our lives. The evidence may be overwhelming, but so is the amount of plastic in our environment!
Since a dog’s list of belongings consists mainly of a bowl, a ball, and a blanket, it may be even easier to lay the guilt of some otherwise unexplainable malady at the base of the dish. Following is a layman’s explanation that does not take a chemist to comprehend.
BPA, short for Bisphenal A, is a synthetic estrogen used to harden plastics. Studies indicate a connection between exposure to this chemical and sometimes serious damage to health, even at small doses. The Environmental Working Group, a highly respected non-profit organization dedicated to human health and the environment, states “trace BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders.”
In other words, our dogs may have their very life sustenance provided to them in what could be an unhealthy manner. Besides the possibility that chemicals often leach from plastic, the food bowl can easily get small scratches that can harbor bacteria, thus making our dogs vulnerable.
Health issues that may develop from exposure to BPA are often in the mysterious autoimmune disorder category where the body attacks itself in strange ways. These diseases are hard to diagnose and can be even more difficult to treat. What is often puzzling is what caused the illness in the first place. Was the body weak to begin with or is the hazardous substance to blame? It is a vicious and frustrating circle. My antennae went up when I presented this alarming photo of my client German Shorthair youngster to my wonderful veterinarian and terms such as “immune mediated disease” and “plastic bowls” jumped off the page of his response as possibilities.
This awareness surely caused me to pause last night as I filled my plastic water bottle for the gym. Are our four legged best friends trying to tell us something?
Before you run out and purchase new bowls to replace your plastic ones, be warned that painted ceramic varieties may be avoided as well for lead contamination. Stainless steel is the safest bet by far!
Have any of you seen a dog with these types of problems?