Bioaccumulation refers to the gradual accumulation of substances, such as pesticides or other chemicals, in an organism. Bio accumulation is responsible for large levels of toxins in our cats and dogs, contributing to a host of health issues.
In recognition of the unique roles that pets play in our lives, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) undertook a study  in 2008 to investigate the extent of exposures pets face to contaminants. The study found that dogs and cats were contaminated with 48 of 70 industrial chemicals tested.
For dogs, blood and urine samples were contaminated with 35 chemicals altogether, including 11 carcinogens, 31 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system, and 24 neurotoxins. The carcinogens are of particular concern, since dogs have much higher rates of many kinds of cancer than do humans do.
Cat samples contained 46 chemicals altogether, including 9 carcinogens, 40 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system, 34 neurotoxins, and 15 chemicals toxic to the endocrine system.
Mercury poisoning in cats
A lot of cats love fish, but feeding it as more than a very occasional treat could be increasingly detrimental to your cat’s health. The primary fish used in cat food are salmon, tilefish and tuna. Each of them presents health issues, because fish can contain toxic doses of common water pollutants, heavy metals (of which mercury is the predominant evil), and other contaminants.
Chronic exposure to mercury causes major problems in cats and humans. Signs of mercury poisoning in cats include neurological damage which manifests as a loss of coordination and balance, or difficulty walking. Since these symptoms can mimic other illnesses, including thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency, mercury toxicity may not be the first thing a veterinarian suspects, so it may remain undiagnosed.
Mercury is considered one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organization. Mercury ends up in the air from power plant emissions. When it rains, the mercury in the air falls into lakes, rivers and oceans. Bacteria in these bodies of water convert the mercury into methylmercury, a highly toxic form that gets easily absorbed into small organisms. Small fish ingest it when they eat those tiny organisms, and bigger fish eat the smaller fish - creating a loop of chronic toxicity or otherwise known as toxic bioaccumulation.
Our pets are usually at the very apex of the food chain, which directly contributes to them consuming mind-numbing amounts of toxins everyday.
Cats accumulate more toxins than dogs do . That could be due to cats being obligate carnivores, whereas dogs are omnivores. Cats are fed exclusively meat-based diets, whereas dogs generally consume some plant-based food as well, which lowers their toxic load.
How can we avoid toxin accumulation?
High level of toxins poses significant health risks, and the increase in the incidence of cancer.
According to Dr. Richard Pitcairn, “Even more important are the very real health effects from feeding at the top of the food chain. We don't know the levels of pollutant accumulation in the tissues of animals, but in people it has been found that well over 100 chemicals are now resident in our tissues especially in those that regularly eat meat. Avoiding animal flesh in our diets very much reduces this toxic accumulation.”
Veterinarians knowledgeable in plant-based diet recommend dog and cat guardians to switch to plant-based food to improve health of their companion animals.
According to Dr. Armaiti May, a practicing veterinarian, "There's the issue of the extreme bio accumulated toxins that are present in all flesh foods, whether it's organic or non-organic, there's still a tremendous number of toxins, including heavy metals, which are including mercury in seafood, arsenic in chicken. And various other bio accumulated toxins that are called persistent organic pollutants."
Dr. May continues, "And we do see high levels of cancer in cats just as we do with dogs, unfortunately. And I think that their diets are one of the factors that are contributing to that.
So one of the foundational principles of good health is to have a healthy, nutritious diet that's preferably low in toxins. Not only do we have the issue of the heavy metals and the bio accumulated. Carcinogens, including glyphosate. There's a lot of Roundup all around nowadays and it's in our environment and it bioaccumulates up the food chain.
So I think feeding a plant based diet, as long as it's nutritionally complete and balanced and meets their caloric needs and their protein needs, et cetera, then. That can actually provide a healthier option."
Consumption of food lower on the food chain cohesively reduces the amount of toxins we intake. When we switch our dogs and cats to a plant-based diet we switch them to a class of food where there are less accumulated toxins, whereby directly contributing to a longer life span.
Transition your cat and dog to a plant-based diet, to reduce toxic load on their bodies and protect them from diseases associated with bioaccumulation of toxins.
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1. Polluted Pets: High Levels of Toxic Industrial Chemicals Contaminate Cats And Dogs (2008): LINK
2. Mercury and Health. World Health Organization (2017): LINK
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