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NYU study looks at how household chemicals may affect pets

Experts say pets can also make a big difference with emotional health.
Posted at 12:45 PM, Apr 06, 2022

A first-of-its-kind study is raising concerns about a certain potentially toxic group of chemicals pets may be exposed to.

Researchers from NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine looked at what are called “aromatic amines.”

The chemicals are in dyes used in cosmetics, textiles and plastics we have in our homes.

The researchers found 8 types of chemicals in stool samples they collected from dozens of dogs and cats.

They also found traces of the chemicals in more than 38% of urine samples taken from a separate group of pets.

The chemicals are also found in a common flea control medication called Amitraz.

“There are no regulations. It's because of the fact that it's not known that, you know, the insecticides, like Amitraz, can break down in the body of pets, to produce a cancer-causing chemical. It was not known so studies like this shed light,” said Kurunthachalam Kannan, Ph.D., at NYU Langone Health.

Veterinarians say the benefits of flea medication outweigh the risks.

“There are some natural flea and tick products that can be used both topical oils and orals. They may not be quite as effective as some of the prescribed medications, but there are indeed some they're out there, there are some that are out there actually could be more harmful as well,” said Joshua Lachowicz, a veterinary oncologist at BluePearl.

“Owner education is always going to be key to make sure that they speak with the veterinarian first,” Lachowicz said.

He says another option could be limiting flea products during colder times of the year.

As far as other household products your pets may be exposed to, choosing more natural products with a lower concentration of dyes is an option.

More research is planned into the link between exposure to the chemicals and bladder, thyroid and testicular cancer in pets.

Another veterinarian we spoke with says this underscores the importance of routine screening and talking with your veterinarian about your pet’s health.