Researcher looking at PFAS exposure in dogs, cats

Studies have linked these substances to adverse health outcomes in animals and humans

By Coco Lederhouse
Published: 15 September 2023

Evidence is mounting on the link between per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and adverse health outcomes in animals, including increased liver weight and size in dogs, reproductive delays in rodents, and possible respiratory disease in cats.

PFAS can be found in animals around the world, from fish and amphibians to horses and small mammals. This global threat affects more than 300 animal species.

Dr. Heather Bair-Brake, a public health veterinarian at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, talked about the hazards of PFAS and their potential impact on clinical practice in her session "Current Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Research Points to a Growing Threat in Animals" July 14 at AVMA Convention 2023. The presentation shares a title with a March 2023 JAVMA article that she coauthored.

PFAS, which are man-made chemicals that repel oil and water, have found widespread use in a variety of manufacturing processes and products, such as Teflon, stain-repellent fabrics, firefighting foam, and food packaging. Humans and animals can be exposed to the chemicals through contaminated air, water, soil, dust, and food.

Dr. Bair-Brake explained that exposed pets clear PFAS from their bodies within eight days to a couple of months, while humans may retain PFAS in their system for 10-12 years.

To see the full version of this story, visit the AVMA News website.