Plastic and Your Pet: The Hidden Toxin

The very things we give our pets to make their lives more exciting, more wonderful, more interesting, and more healthful, could actually be increasing their incidence of cancer, disease, and premature death.

Plastic. It has become an integral part of our lives in every aspect. Even the keyboard on which I’m typing is plastic. What if I told you that plastic could be killing you and your pet? Stick with me readers as I give you a brief history.

In reality plastic has been around for the past 100 years. Its infiltration into every aspect of our lives is recent to the past 50. Look around you right at this moment. How many things can you see in front of you that are made with plastic? Water bottles, keyboards, cell phones, watch bands, calculators, shampoo bottles, dishes, eyeglasses, pens, scissor handles, plastic food containers, food wrap, shoes, garbage bags, the list is so endless it is no surprise that we seem to be slaves to its convenience.

In the last half century plastic has been perfected, made more durable, and become much more affordable. Let’s face it, it keeps food fresh, is indestructible, and for all practical purposes now indisposable. Mankind has become so reliant upon plastic it’s difficult to imagine life without it, but what, exactly, has it been doing to our health, environment, and future? I say let’s narrow the subject down to this. What effect is it having on our pets? Hang on pet owners; just a bit more scientific explanation is worthy.

Plastic is rife with the chemical we call BPA or Bisephenol A. BPA has only recently been examined for the negative effects it has on all those who come in contact with it. According to a pharmaceutical report “The leaching of BPA from the polycarbonate plastics and the polycarbonate plastic lining of containers is particularly alarming in light of the serious health risks associated with BPA ingestion.

More than 200 lab animal tests to date strongly suggest that BPA exposure, even at very low doses, creates risks of dangerous developmental, neural, and reproductive health effects in infants and children. Exposure to BPA, even at low and short-term doses, is linked to a staggering number of health problems, including: breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, hyperactivity, impaired and altered immune systems, miscarriage, chromosome abnormalities, Down’s syndrome, impaired learning and memory, increased aggression,….” and the list goes on. Most canned food, including dog and cat food, is lined with BPA to prevent a ‘metal’ taste in the food it stores.

So, it would be fair to surmise that if BPA’s are doing so much damage to humankind, what effect is it having on our pets? This time look at your pet’s world. Plastic food storage, plastic bowls, toys, crates, chews, squeakies, gates, ball, Frisbee, pill bottles, and tags, to name a few. As I walked down the aisles of one of the pet product stores where I live every aisle was filled with plastic and every product was packaged in plastic. The longer a product is stored in that plastic the more BPA’s are leached into that item. Plastic in extreme temperatures leaches larger amounts of BPA, so freezing in plastic and microwaving in plastic increases the incidence of exposure.

‘Endocrine disruptors, such as BPA, may very well play a part in the etiology of classic reproductive disorders and cancers, as well as diseases not often linked to hormonal activity — immune system conditions, learning and behavioral disorders, diabetes, and even obesity. If BPA does indeed contribute to any of these epidemic disorders, the potential ramifications for public health are far-reaching.’ ~ Environmental Working Group – Bisephenol A: Toxic Plastics Chemical in Canned Food: BPA and Human Diseases on the Rise
It’s interesting to note that in September 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance. The United States, on the other hand, is dragging its feet on the issue mainly due to big corporate lobbying and funding.

The solution? This is tough. I’ve been working hard to eliminate the plastic from my own life and thus, the life of my pets. Food storage is fairly easy. I switched dog treats from a tall plastic container to a tall glass one instead. Dog food went from a highly convenient plastic storage bin to a less convenient but much more healthy stainless can with lid. I’ve been fortunate in that my dogs don’t enjoy playing with plastic toys. Sharkey will, if given the opportunity, consume them one small bite at a time. So I don’t have any in the house.

I called six dog food manufacturers about the BPA lining in their cans. When I could get no definitive answer from any of them I did my own study. I found one company that does not use BPA lining in their cans, Blue Buffalo, and thankfully that has been the product that my pets have been eating for quite awhile. All the more reason to make the food your dogs consume but remember not to store it in plastic in the refrigerator.

Alternatives to plastic are out there; it just takes a bit of research and re-investment. I have eliminated plastic for refrigerator storage and now use glass instead. When I travel I bring water for the dogs and myself in metal water bottles. All dishes have been switched over to ceramic and metal. The crates in which my dogs sometimes sleep and travel are made of plastic, but the dogs don’t consume them so I think I am safe in that regard. The company Simplhuman makes a dog food storage container out of stainless with a BPA free inner bucket. Solutions are available, but you need to look carefully.

In conclusion my dog adoring readers, the very things we give our pets to make their lives more exciting, more wonderful, more interesting, and more healthful, could be what is ultimately increasing their incidence of cancer, disease, and premature death. So think twice the next time you throw that ball, toss that toy, or open that can of food.

62 thoughts on “Plastic and Your Pet: The Hidden Toxin

    1. Nancy, there is a USA toy company named Wigzi that sells toys with no BPA or Phalates. We have some of them in our webstore ( They’re not easily found in mainstream big box stores, but local pet stores might have them stocked. They smell like cupcakes, too. Very sturdy, can be cleaned in the dishwasher, and the smell doesn’t wash out!

  1. Vittles Vault made by Gamma Plastics is BPA FREE…As long as you are buying a food grade product it should be BPA free.
    If unsure contact the company & ask…
    Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater……A lot of the CHEAP plastics will contain BPA …Like everything else do your research .. there are a LOT of companies that are being responsible….A lot of “to go” cups & bottles are BPA free

    1. Unfortunately Diana, food grad product does not guarantee BPA free, bottled water being one example – AND unless it specifically says BPA FREE on the package you can assume that it is not.

  2. And you think this isn’t happening to people too? It IS.

    And it isn’t just cancer although that’s probably the most frightening of the problems with plastics. Many plastics are also “obesogens” (obesity-causing) contributing to diabetes, Cushings, and heart disease. Little is said in the mainstream media about the endocrine disruptors in, and other metabolic disorders caused by, plastics — and those are not limited just to plastics containing bisphenol-A though BPA gets most of the bad press because it was found in baby bottles – that kind of press coverage dangerous in itself because we then tend to ignore the other equally dangerous plastics and focus on only one, which of course makes the profit-driven manufacturers very happy indeed.

    Best possible strategy is to home cook for your dog based on sound, correct nutritional principles which can easily be found in the ever-increasing amount of information in print or on the internet and even obtained from animal nutritionists at a vet school. Best place for getting started with correct information on a home-cooking program for your dog is in Dr. Pitcairn’s book – yes, it’s an expensive book but you can find used on the internet booksellers or even at your local used bookstore. Feed and water your dog only out of a glass or stainless steel bowl never out of plastic dishes. Don’t store anything in plastic containers or be tempted to heat something in the microwave in a plastic container – ever.

    Even some big companies who sell household storage containers are now because of the plastics scare getting wider attention, making glass storage containers albeit most with plastic lids. Are they more expensive? Yeah – but – they last longer, and are much easier to keep completely clean, better than trying to get grease off of a plastic container that’s for sure.

    If you have to use plastic food storage bags or sandwich bags, get “green” wax paper and wrap the item in nontoxic wax paper before placing in plastic. Cook in stainless steel not aluminum which also leaches toxics. Filter your own water and stop buying the pre-bottled waters and use stainless steel travel containers instead of a plastic bottle.

    Get rid of the plastic in your home and while you’re at it consider the truly damaging chemicals in most modern carpets and flooring including formaldehyde and decide if you really want that new carpet which just might contribute to your pets’ (or your) illness and death.

    1. Rox – that refrigerator is a good point – and potentially just as lethal, but unless it’s actually touching the food itself, highly unlikely that it is leaching.

  3. Yet we were just told by our vet to stop giving our dogs real bones. I dare say they’re probably safer than plastic, if this is the case!

    1. Lilliana

      “Yet we were just told by our vet to stop giving our dogs real bones. I dare say they’re probably safer than plastic, if this is the case!”

      vet also tell pet owners to vaccinate their pets. they dont tell pet owners that most if not all the vaccines contain Thiomersal (ethyl mercury) as the preservative!

      mercury is the most poisonous non radioactive element.

      why should pets die of cancer at a young age, or at all!!

      1. Not ONLY do the vaccinations cause that- they are the main culprit of SARDS. Devastatingly, my 13 year old Puggle was diagnosed with SARDS around 2 months ago. We think all these vaccinations, boosters and inoculations are helping our beloved pets- they are actually KILLING THEM. If you don’t want to lose you life savings and go through what we are now trying to clean his body of all of those toxins, do this ONE THING. Ask, no- TELL your vet that you want a tech to test your animal’s Titers. The titers in his or her blood will clearly show whether your animal truly NEEDS the vaccinations, etc. It also is substantially less to do this than just have them shot up with their poisons- (Vets make most of their money on office visits {NOT tech visits- all you need is to have blood drawn and they can easily see your pets’ immunity} but most of all; they make their $$$ off of giving your pet unneeded vaccinations. Just to add a note; SARDS only started in the early 1980’s, and HUMANS and other animals get it too; many are our Veteran’s- because they are so inoculated to go overseas. Research is being done at a snail’s pace, but hopefully there will be a cure for our furry loved ones as there already is for people.

  4. My dogs only get non toxic rubber toys and raw food and they are never better. Plus they like to play with watermelon husks too LOL

  5. I would understand giving them wreck bones as it breaks teeth which you can’t see it happening but if they bite down on something hard it will break over time.

  6. Our dog doesn’t chew on plastic toys, and he doesn’t have a plastic bowl. He used to have a small one upstairs but I got rid of it. He eats rotisserie chicken and we don’t store dog food in plastic. Thanks for the article.

  7. I have been teaching chemistry since the early 90’s. I do not use plastic for my family which includes my dogs. I recommend this to my students as well.

  8. Seems even vaccines are causing issue too like the lyme vac which if your dog gets it lyme from that its uncureable and untreatable but if they get it from a tick its different doesn’t make sense to me at all and the lyme vac is only 60% protection not 100%

  9. I cook for my dogs using a recipe the vet gave me and add dog vitamins and fish oil. It’s cheaper than bagged and their teeth look good still. I store the portions in zip baggies in the freezer and reuse the baggies several times, lastly using them to pick up after them on walks. I avoid placing any food in plastic especially if it has a “greasy” feel to the plastic.

  10. Hmmm……im gonna start storing his food in a glass bowl.He dont play with plastic toys so thats no concern for me there.

  11. ….but the zip baggies are made from plastic, Jeanne. Or do you use a special brand with no BPA? I’m curious about that recipe, too.

  12. I feed a raw diet too, but can’t think of a way to store the food not using plastic. I buy in bulk so I can’t afford to buy enough glass storage containers for 150 lbs of meat! I’m interested in any suggestions that anyone has!

  13. I had switch from #3 on plastic containers (like Taupeware) to #5. It was supposed to be better quality plastic. Then I heard that plastic is plastic and eventually will toxic our food and my furkids :O( Better safe then sorry. I think ceramic is not much better (???) I use stainless steel for my furkids, but I eat out of ceramic plates.

  14. Excellent article – My Dog is 15 1/2 and diabetic – I switched over to homecooked meals 4 years ago at diagnosis and store her meals (only two days at a time) in glass containers in the fridge. She has relinquished her squeaky toys for homemade “sock toys” with flappy legs and gets a kick out of wacking them from side to side so that they hit her (gently) in the face – gets her annoyed…. so she fights back at them. I make her homemade treats of chicken jerky in the oven and feed her steamed chicken, green beans and sweet potatoes along with pumpkin (pure 100% – not the pie filling type) and plain nonfat yogurt. I dont trust ANY commercial dog food out there having done a comprehensive study over the past 4 years on ALL of them I was even remotley interested in at the time. And…its all done with so much love for my girl and surprising less effort than you would think. ♥

    1. Unless it specifically says BPA FREE you should assume that it is not. Unfortunately the companies I called either didn’t know or didn’t care to comment.

  15. @Jeanne Brown plastic zip baggies are loaded with BPA and freezing them leaches the chemical into the food even faster. I would store in glass or aluminum foil and NOT use plastic. As the article says extremes in hot and cold leach even worse.

  16. @Mandi – ask the butcher to wrap the meat in the butcher paper INSIDE OUT – anything shiny on one side has plastic – but inside out and the meat will be protected – THEN put it in plastic and the chemicals won’t leach through.

  17. I’ve cut down on plastic in our home but how do you avoid it all together un todays world? I raw feed my dogs deer & other wild game that I butcher myself, wrap it in plastic wrap then paper to freeze since I only get the deer during hunting season so I get a lot in a short time so wrapping & freezing is a must. Ideas to avoid plastic wrap without the meat drying out in the freezer?

    1. that refrigerator is a good point – and potentially just as lethal, but unless it’s actually touching the food itself, highly unlikely that it is leaching.

  18. Easy there, people! There’s a LOT of bad science and sensationalization here.

    BPA is primarily used in polycarbonate (car headlights, hard plastic bottles) and epoxy resins (adhesives, fiberglass). These are NOT the nylon bones, polyethylene bowls, and rubber toys your dog is likely to put in his mouth.

    1. Erin, thanks for a calm voice among the hysteria. Not all plastics contain BPA and most are marked now and easy to find. You will pay more for the BPA-free stuff. And yes, Nylabones are fine. I never store any food in plastic or in Zip bags. Human or canine-everything in the freezer is stored in glass. Now, if you’re buying your plastic containers in the Dollar Store you can be sure they’re JUNK from China and full of all kinds of terrible things…but not all plastics are bad.
      Imagine all those bags of IV fluids and blood…and all the tubing and syringes, and ventilators, etc. etc. Are you going to stop using ALL plastics??I think not.

    2. BPA is used in soft plastics as well as many of the toys, chews, etc. You can claim there’s bad science here but you don’t offer any studies to the contrary just conjecture. Rubber is not in questions here – just plastic, I don’t believe Susan said anything about rubber being bad in any way.

      1. If allergic to Latex, which is becoming more and more common that’s also an issue with rubber toys, yet I know vinyl have plastic, trapped to avoid both?

  19. …been preaching this for years!…although it’s tough going totally non-plastic in a plastic world…but, every little bit helps!!!

  20. Sorry Scott – I checked with the scientists and that .gov site would like for you to believe that.

  21. Susan, during your research, have you run across any studies that quantify levels of BPA used in different plastics? Do polyethylene and polypropylene contain BPA? Do you know of any studies that show BPA is present in PE or PP products? I was under the impression that BPA was only found in polycarbonates and epoxies.

  22. Wellness and blue buffalo foods are made by the same manufacturer. Diamond makes blue wilderness. So no on those. Raw is the best way.

    1. Amy this article is about which foods line their cans with plastic not a discussion about which food you prefer.

  23. It was better to check to mercury and lead content of a plastic container or toys.. How Should we know? Most countries have this bureau who regulates safety of a product, we should look for the approval seal of that bureau to insure the safety of a product. most specially if those toys for our children..

  24. Thanks for posting! I am now hearing that BPA free plastics may be even more toxic than BPA! They simply replace it with a different toxic substance to be tricky.
    The fact that blue buffalo does not use BPA is great but does make me wonder what they do line their cans it smoke and mirrors? Did they say if they line them with any substance at all?
    Thank you!

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