fetch! blog

can canned food be dangerous to dogs?

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Posted by Dr. Kim on Jan 18 2017



Bisphenol A (also known as BPA) is a synthetic compound used to make some plastics, and it gets a bad rap because it’s disruptive to our endocrine system. When BPA-containing plastic touches food, it can get into the food, causing exposure when you eat it. Or, when your dog eats it.

A recent study by scientists and vets at the University of Missouri found that even short-term consumption of canned dog food led to a three-fold increase in BPA in the dogs’ blood, which can carry some potential health consequences.

the problem with BPA

BPA is everywhere. It’s found in things like hard plastic bottles and the lining of many canned goods (including soda). And every time you touch thermal paper (credit card receipts), you’re exposed as well. It’s common to find BPA in human urine, because depending on your lifestyle, you’re likely exposed to it daily. The problem with BPA stems from the fact that, as an endocrine disrupter, it’s been linked to a range of health issues from obesity to infertility, autism and breast cancer.

Because humans and dogs share their lives, scientists wanted to know how our canine companions were faring in this BPA-laden world. Getting answers about our dogs could lead to answers about our own health, as well, so they set out to determine what effect – if any – BPA had on dogs.

BPA-free?

Fourteen dogs were fed a diet of canned food (one of which was labeled as BPA-free) for two weeks, with blood and fecal samples monitored before and after the new food. The results were a bit surprising: both foods actually contained BPA, and the BPA concentration in dogs tripled after the new canned diets.

You probably expected that if dogs ate food from cans lined with BPA-containing plastic, it would be present in their bloodstream. After all, it’s present in ours after we do the same (though hopefully we’re not eating dog food!). The more important part of the study is the “who cares?” part. In other words, there’s BPA in their system, but does it negatively affect their health?

the health of the matter

Well, it turned out that fecal samples showed changes in the gut microbiome because of the increased BPA, too. While scientists don’t know the implications of that, it’s safe to guess that there are some. The gut plays a huge role in the immune system of four- and two-legged animals alike, so when you start messing around with the major players in the gut, you’re asking for trouble.

The take-home message from the study is that if BPA is in the can that holds your dog’s food, it’s also in your dog. From there, we’re not sure what to say, but there might be some health implications. More studies are needed for sure. In the meantime, you might want to double think the canned food. Or at least feed it less often.