Pet Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: EDCs and Pet Health

Can harmful chemicals in pet products be jeopardizing the health of your furbabies...and other loved ones in your home?

Dog playing fetch

While pets may be in our lives for a short period of time, they leave impressions that last a lifetime.

Millions of households have furbabies, and we spend billions of dollars collectively each year on their health, nutrition, and well-being. It’s undeniable we want what’s best for our loved ones, but we might be unknowingly exposing our pets to harmful chemicals. Many household items and pet products contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs. These chemicals disrupt hormones, which can lead to various health effects for your dogs or cats. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most toxic chemicals our beloved companions are exposed to daily.  

EDCs and our Pets

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, are a group of compounds present in personal care products and household items that can interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system. 

The endocrine system plays a crucial role in managing the body's various functions, such as:

  • Metabolism
  • Growth and development
  • Vital organ function
  • Reproduction
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • And more

Cat at Family Table

Like humans, an animal’s endocrine system works by producing and distributing hormones throughout the body.

Hormones interact with receptors in the body to influence the various functions we just discussed, as well as countless others. 

However, EDCs in your pet’s environment can mimic or prevent the action of hormones, leading to a disruption in the body's hormonal balance. When hormones are imbalanced, animals are at a greater risk for additional health problems [1]. 

How Pets Get Exposed to EDCs

From personal care products to food packaging to furniture, many products that humans use are manufactured or contaminated with EDCs. Over time, these chemicals can pollute the indoor environment.

For most households, family pets spend the majority of their lives indoors. They also live closer to the ground, where they breathe EDCs in dust, get them on their fur, and ingest them through licking. 

Cat on Ground

As a result, they are repeatedly exposed to items that have been shown to affect a human’s health negatively. Repeated exposure to these chemicals has been linked to an increase in many human health conditions [3]. 

Therefore, your pets could be at substantial risk of developing diseases, too. In fact, human diseases are on the rise in pets, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  

In addition to environmental concerns within the home, many pet products are made with EDCs. For instance, preservatives in pet food, plastics in food packaging, plastic food bowls, plastics used to make toys, and fragrances in grooming products can increase EDC levels in your pets [2].

Not to mention that humans most likely handle many of these pet products. We play fetch with the plastic ball and wash their fur with the scented shampoo. By reducing our pets’ EDC exposure, we reduce our own, and vice versa. 

Learn more about Holistic Pet Care by watching The Live Sessions with Dr. Chris Bessent:

Common Pet EDC Exposures

Our beloved pets are often exposed to an array of potentially harmful chemicals present in everyday household items [4]. From the furnishings we have to the cleaning products we use, numerous common substances can affect our pets' health. Understanding these unseen dangers is critical, and you might be surprised to learn just how many everyday items contain these hidden threats.

Pet Food

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) 

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are such persistent pollutants they were banned from production in the U.S. in 1979. However, they’re still showing up in high concentrations in urine samples of pets.  

PCBs were widely used in coolants, insulating materials, and lubricants. In pets, PCBs can lead to decreased sperm count, quality, and viability, hyperthyroidism in cats, and hypothyroidism in dogs [5].

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)

Another common type of EDC that pets are exposed to is polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are used as flame retardants. They are found in various household items like electronics, furniture, and even mattresses. Over time, these chemicals off-gas into the environment, which you and your pets inhale.

Exposure to PBDEs has been linked to hyperthyroidism in pets, especially cats [6]. In addition, these chemicals have been linked to poor sperm quality and viability. Poor sperm quality can be a significant concern for breeders.

Since your pets are home for most of the day, they are repeatedly exposed to the various chemicals in the indoor environment. Consider investing in air purifiers for the house to reduce the number of toxic chemicals everyone in the house inhales, including your pets!

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are another group of persistent organic pollutants commonly found in our households. Unlike PCBs, PFAS are widely used today and have increasingly become an environmental and human health hazard. 

Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are used in a wide range of products, including non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets, and water-resistant clothes. PFAS contamination in water is very common. Many pet owners feed their pets water from the tap. 

PFAS exposure is linked to hyperthyroidism in cats [7]. Consider getting a water filter for your household so that you and your animals can drink water that is from free PFAS. 

Bisphenol-A (BPA)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a common EDC used in making plastics and epoxy resins for food packaging. This harmful chemical can be used in the can liners of pet food and can leach into the food. In addition, many toys are made with BPA. As your pet chews these toys, they can ingest these chemicals into their body.

It’s also important to keep in mind that harmful chemicals, like BPA, can accumulate in dust. Many pets lie on the ground and can absorb BPA through their skin. Plus, they might lick the floor, especially if they are accustomed to eating food from the ground. Sweep and mop your floor regularly to reduce exposure to EDCs. 

BPA is linked to hyperthyroidism in cats [8]. Hormonal imbalances can result in digestive issues that may make for litter box issues or messy cleaning at the dog park. Limiting exposures to EDC could be beneficial in helping your loved one find the digestive balance they need. 


Phthalates are a type of plasticizer used to make plastics more flexible and fragrances last longer. They are found in a variety of products, including toys, vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, and many scented products like candles, plug-ins, and pet shampoos. They are also commonly found in pet food.

Dog Shampooing

Phthalates are linked to a decline in sperm quality and testicular dysgenesis syndrome [9]. Be sure to shop for fragrance-free products for your pet’s grooming needs and good health. 


Parabens and other antimicrobials are commonly used in personal care products for humans and pets alike. They are also used in canned and other processed foods we feed our pets. 

While there are no definitive studies on parabens and pet health, they are known to be harmful to humans, so it's best to err on the side of caution with pets and parabens. In addition, some parabens can bother sensitive skin. So, be sure to ensure your pet’s products are paraben-free, especially if they are prone to skin problems. 

Reducing Pet and Human Exposures to EDCs

Reducing your exposure to these harmful chemicals will indirectly benefit your pets too. Getting tested for common harmful chemicals like BPA, phthalates, and parabens can help you identify the products causing your highest exposures.

Million Marker's Detect & Detox Test Kit can help you pinpoint these products and provide personalized recommendations to reduce your exposure. By taking these steps, you're not only ensuring your health but also contributing to the well-being of your furry friends.