Is Your Dog’s Bed Toxic??

Toxic Chemical Found in Dog Beds and Toys:        Triclosan Alert

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Posted by Randi Case, DC, CCSP

What do your toothpaste, your athletic socks and your dog’s bed have in common? They most likely contain triclosan, a powerful anti-microbial chemical incorporated into a broad array of consumer products. Triclosan is also turning up as a contaminant in rivers across North America, and in the bodies of more than three-quarters of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Should we care? The FDA evidently thinks so. On April 8, the agency launched a safety review of this now ubiquitous chemical. “Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation,” the FDA press release states. “Other studies have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.”

Triclosan belongs to a class of synthetic chemicals that scientists term endocrine disruptors, for their ability to interact with organisms’ hormone systems. A 2006 study found that even in extremely low doses, triclosan interferes with thyroid function in frogs and leads to premature leg growth in tadpoles. Evidence now strongly suggests that hormone-mimicking chemicals like triclosan effect similar outcomes in all animals with backbones — frogs, dogs and humans alike. They can interfere with everything from insulin regulation to brain function.

Since its first use as a medical scrub in 1972, triclosan has infiltrated all aspects of our everyday lives. It’s the germ-killing chemical of choice in soaps, cosmetics, clothing, kitchenware, toys and, not least, dog beds. If you own anything that advertises itself as antimicrobial, antifungal or antibacterial, there’s a good chance that triclosan is the magic ingredient.

It’s magic we can do without. Although “antimicrobial” sounds like a useful property in trash bags and cutting boards, there’s no evidence that household use of triclosan keeps us any healthier (with the possible exception of toothpaste, where it can help prevent gingivitis).

The soap industry has already begun to mobilize against any hypothetical regulation of triclosan, and the famously slow-moving FDA may take years to act. Still, this latest announcement gives us cause to think twice before stocking up on antibacterial chew toys.

Clean Those Teeth!

by Jim Harrington

Ever gotten close to your favorite four-legged friend and gotten a whiff of something nasty?!  Similar to how our mouths function, pet bad breath typically stems from anaerobic bacteria that thrives in areas such as gums and in between teeth.  Once that bacteria transforms into plaque and accumulates, that wonderful stank becomes more noticeable.

A combination of patience and a willing pet can enable teeth to get brushed.  Generally, dogs are a bit easier to do teeth cleaning than cats.  Most dogs feel more of a need to please and bond.  A cat’s mouth is typically smaller and their teeth are also smaller and sharper – plus they choose when they feel like engaging with their human.

Brushing is an unnatural act for your pet, especially since they also cannot rinse, spit or floss on their own.  If your pets (or you) get too stressed by trying to utilize some of the traditional oral hygiene approaches, it may be best to consider alternative products.  Take a ride to your favorite pet store and you’ll see the ever-expanding teeth cleaning options that are available.  Products range from special chew toys and ropes to hard treats and cookies.  If none of those work, you can also ask your veterinarian about special foods and diets that support good oral health.

Make sure you do NOT use human toothpaste though…  the foaming action and an inability to spit leaves only one option for our furry friends – they swallow it.  Once that happens, plan on an upset tummy – or worse.  If your pet cooperates with the brushing concept, be sure to purchase a foamless flavored gel specially designed for animals.  These gels are safe for pets to swallow.  Brushing once a day should be sufficient to maintain good oral health for your dog or cat.

Lastly, be aware that oral care products for animals are not specifically regulated by any federal agency.  The FDA does provide some general oversight of products that make claims of cleaner teeth, fresher breath, etc, but it doesn’t do specific testing.

Woof!