The assessment of daily dietary intake reveals the existence of a different pattern of bioaccumulation of chlorinated pollutants between domestic dogs and cats

Sci Total Environ. 2015 Oct 15;530-531:45-52. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.05.070. Epub 2015 May 27.


Pet dogs and cats have been proposed as sentinel species to assess environmental contamination and human exposure to a variety of pollutants, including POPs. However, some authors have reported that dogs but not cats exhibit intriguingly low levels of some of the most commonly detected POPs, such as DDT and its metabolites. This research was designed to explore these differences between dogs and cats. Thus, we first determined the concentrations of 53 persistent and semi-persistent pollutants (16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 18 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 19 organochlorine pesticides (OCPs)) in samples of the most consumed brands of commercial feed for dogs and cats, and we calculated the daily dietary intake of these pollutants in both species. Higher levels of pollutants were found in dog food and our results showed that the median values of intake were about twice higher in dogs than in cats for all the three groups of pollutants (ΣPAHs: 274.8 vs. 141.8; ΣOCPs: 233.1 vs. 83; ΣPCBs: 101.8 vs. 43.8 (ng/kg bw/day); respectively). Additionally, we determined the plasma levels of the same pollutants in 42 and 35 pet dogs and cats, respectively. All these animals lived indoors and were fed on the commercial brands of feed analyzed. As expected (considering the intake), the plasma levels of PAHs were higher in dogs than in cats. However, for organochlorines (OCPs and PCBs) the plasma levels were much higher in cats than in dogs (as much as 23 times higher for DDTs), in spite of the higher intake in dogs. This reveals a lower capacity of bioaccumulation of some pollutants in dogs, which is probably related with higher metabolizing capabilities in this species.

Keywords: Daily intake; Organochlorine pesticides; POPs; Pet food; Pets; Polychlorinated biphenyls; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Sentinels.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / statistics & numerical data*
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dogs
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Food Contamination / statistics & numerical data
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis*
  • Pets
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls