One of my favorite authors, Dr. Marion Nestle, coined the phrase “The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine”. She was referring to the health and safety of the American food system in her book, Pet Food Politics.
The pet food industry has its roots in the human food industry, where raw materials unfit for human consumption are being recycled into pet food and feed for livestock. When pigs, cows, and chickens are fed these waste products, they are bound to find their way into the human food chain.
This summer, a study out of the school of veterinary medicine at the University of Nottingham, England, found that sperm motility in dogs has declining over the last 26 years. The study looked at 5 breeds: labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, curly coated retrievers, border collies and German shepherds. A significant number, between 42 and 97 dogs, were tested annually from 1988 to 2014. They found that 30% of all the tested breeds had a decrease in sperm motility. Puppies from these stud dogs had a 10 fold increase in the incidence of undescended testicles. They also saw a 3 fold increase in death of female puppies as well. Not only was motility effected, but so was the testicular tissue. They tested the tissue and found concentrations of the same chemicals found in electrical transformers, paint, and plastics. Similar chemicals were also discovered in the semen.
Researchers made an interesting discovery, “The same chemicals that disrupted sperm quality were also discovered in a range of commercially available dog foods – including brands specifically marketed for puppies.”
Further studies are being conducted on ovarian tissues in female dogs as well. They will be looking for reproductive problems and chemical concentrations in these tissues too.
Toxins can be found in our environment. We clean our homes with chemicals and treat our lawns with pesticides and herbicides. Air and water pollution influence the health of us and our dogs, but we also have to be aware of the foods we feed our families. Why increase the toxic overload by feeding highly processed kibble and other poor quality dog foods?
Over the last 70 years, the article showed that there has been a decline in human sperm quality too. We are also seeing increased rates of testicular cancer and undescended testicles, just like in the dog study. One fifth of young men have low sperm counts and one in six couples is having difficulty conceiving.
People and dogs are having similar issues with their health. We all live together and one aspect of health that we can control is our diet. Toxic chemicals are leaking into our bodies from the food we eat because of our reliance on convenient, processed food. It’s time to get back to the basics of a whole food based diet for ourselves and our furry family.