Parabens and What This Means for Animals in My Care

April 25, 2016


Para-What? Para-Who? What the heck are parabens and what do they mean for animals in my care?

When I first heard the word Paraben, it made me think of some elite military person jumping out of some supersonic jet with a parachute. (It’s okay, you can call me naive)! What struck me more, was how blind I was to the fact that so many products in our homes, bathrooms, beauty routines and in our grooming shops contain parabens. I needed to find out more and spoke with Jason, the owner of Envirogroom to learn from an expert in our industry and in chemistry. (No, not 9th grade chemistry but the real deal!)  I also tackled the web in search for more answers as to the pros and cons of these ingredients. This is what I found:

What is a Paraben?

Parabens are a group of chemicals that act as a preservative in many products that we use (shampoo, conditioners, moisturizers, cosmetics, deodorant, shaving gel) to products used on pets (shampoos, conditioners, optimizers and colognes). Collectively, these chemicals are used to ward off bacteria and fungus in the final product. Parabens are also used as food additives.

Why Use a Paraben?

The benefit of a product with parabens is the efficiency as a preservative, it’s inexpensive, colorless, odorless and has been used for nearly 90 years (since the 1930’s) in our products and deemed nontoxic. At this time, there are no direct links to parabens and cancer.

What are the Risks to People & Pets?

Documented as early as the 1940’s, the biggest concern with products containing parabens is allergic contact dermatitis. This is a fancy term for a rash you get when you touch something that you are sensitive to. (Ever wonder why your Bathers hands are horribly red? A sensitivity to a paraben in your products could be the cause). Though not life threatening, having a horrible skin sensitivity to a product you use, is not fun!

In addition, in 1998, scientists started seeing parabens binding to both rodent and human uterine estrogen receptors. Estrogen is a major factor in the development of human breast tissue so breast cancer incidents may be increasing due to parabens and other chemicals being used. Please note, this is not conclusive at this time and further studies are being tested, especially by a panel of Cosmetic Ingredient Review Experts (in 2004).

With animals predisposed to skin conditions, parabens in the products can add one more irritation to an already sensitive part of the body. The results are scratching, rashes, welts and missing coats due to a paraben reaction. ‘Chronic Skin Problems’. (How many times do we write that on our grooming cards? Um….daily)! It is also being studied in relation to pets that have liver issues.

Parabens in Pet Products

To extend the shelf life of their products, many dog shampoo manufacturers use parabens. According to the law, if it is paraben-free, you can put it on your label. If it is not paraben-free, well, you can’t and will be breaking the federal law of Mislabeling. (Trust me, companies do not want to break this law and so they don’t mess with it)! Of course, I need to put a quick plug-in to Envirogroom’s 2 product lines: Envirogroom & Special FX. BOTH are paraben-free!


In My Opinion

This is strictly my opinion based on personal study, asking the experts and experience and is no way to offend, offer advice or be disrespect to anyone.

Just because something has been around for nearly 100 years, doesn’t mean it is the best way. For hundreds of years, the leading scientists thought the Earth was flat! Whoops! My gut also says that things that are un-natural, synthetic and chemically brought together, may solve numerous problems (ex. Extend the shelf life of items we use every day), but something else might be going on chemically, in our bodies and those of our pets.

I’d be lying to say that I am someone who reads every single label of every food and products for both me and the pets in my care….but I truly try to be aware and make sound decisions.

Parabens in dog-related shampoos and products seems like a no-brainer to me. Many manufacturers are creating a few products in their arsenal and other companies created a whole line of paraben-free products. The costs are not outlandish and the quality is good. I have used both types of products and I can honestly say that my staffs’ hands seem much better off in the harsh winter months when cracking, raw skin and skin irritation runs rampant, when we switched to paraben-free. I also noticed a HUGE drop in re-bathing itchy dogs. As I sit here typing this sentence, I am honestly trying to remember the last re-bathing? I think it was YEARS ago. (That brought a smile to my face thinking about no more free baths)! I think I deserve to eat some chips with parabens and take a bubble bath with paraben-filled products! <wink wink>

Love to hear your thoughts on parabens in our pet care products.  Please comment below!

Continued Success,


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