5 Hidden Toxins - Is Your Pet Safe?
Many people don't realize that there are numerous hidden toxins in our environments that our pets come into contact with everyday. When we make decisions to buy products, like cleaning products or body care products, many go for price and convenience and don't realize that we could be bringing in chemicals that are harming our pets.
One of the most important ways to help our pets live a long and healthy life is to minimize toxin exposure in their home environment.
Check out our list of 5 toxins that you need to be aware of as a pet parent and our natural remedies to use instead to keep you and your furry best friend safe and healthy.
1. Synthetic Pesticides
Lawn fertilizers are often combined with herbicides and are heavily used to keep lawns "healthy" and green. In a 1991 study published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a link was found between the herbicide 2, 4-D and malignant lymphoma in dogs and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in people. According to the study, “researchers reported that dogs were two times more likely to develop lymphoma if their owners sprayed or sprinkled the 2,4-D herbicide on the lawn four or more times a year. And even with just one application a season, the cancer risk was one-third higher than among dogs whose owners did not use the chemical.”
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, homeowners in the U.S. use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops. And to make matters even worse, according to a 2013 study, “the detection of lawn chemicals in the urine of pet dogs was widespread – and that lawn chemicals persisted on the grass for at least 48 hours after application, and even longer under certain environmental conditions." It’s even been established that exposure to herbicide-treated lawns has been associated with significantly higher bladder cancer risk in dogs.
These facts alone show us why we need to be careful with what is being sprayed on our lawns. We may not be able to control what our neighbors do, but make sure you avoid the lawns with the yellow flags that indicate pesticides were used and wipe off your pet's feet when coming back from a walk. Dogs are more vulnerable than humans to pesticides and herbicides since dogs run ‘barefoot’, and often roll, sniff and dig in the grass. Many dogs even eat grass, which could contain these harmful chemicals.
For a green lawn, research organic options for lawn maintenance. Or consider an alternative to lawns altogether by planting native flowers and plants. Choosing native plants generally means less maintenance and also provides a food source for bees and butterflies, which are necessary for pollination.
2. Household Cleaning Products
Have you ever thought if a product was safe to be around if you had to wear gloves to use it?
Many of the cleaning products we use in our homes are toxic, especially to our pets since they are not wearing protective gear. According to the EPA, 50% of all illnesses can be traced to indoor pollution, which is directly related to the use of household cleaners. That's just in people, imagine what it's doing to our pets!
Ingredients such as bleach, ammonia, chlorine, glycol ethers or formaldehyde can put pets at risk for cancer, anemia, liver and kidney damage. And remember, the fumes that are left behind after using these products can continue to cause harm to both us and our pets. If you have pets that drink out of the toilet bowl or lay on beds, there may be chemicals left behind due to residues from laundry detergents and toilet bowl cleaners.
Baking soda, vinegar and water make incredibly safe and effective cleaning products. Here is a website that has great information on how to make safe cleaning products at home: Non-toxic Home Cleaning Information.
3. Skin Care Products
From lotions to chap stick, the products we use on ourselves every day can have a huge impact on our pet's health. We don't think about our pets coming into contact with the products we use directly on our skin, but how many times has your cat or dog licked your arm or even your head. We've had cats sit on the back of the couch and groom our hair! Imagine what they may be ingesting if we used a toxic shampoo, conditioner, hair styling product and hairspray?
Many people frequently use body lotions or creams that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe sore muscles. These lotions usually contain salicylates. Salicylates are an anti-inflammatory ingredient that can be toxic to pets, and could result in gastrointestinal ulcers if ingested in large amounts. Also, the lotions we use for moisturizing can contain chemicals that can adversely affect your pet's health.
Choose natural and organic beauty products. It will be better for your health and safer for your pets. If you can't read the ingredients or feel okay putting it in your mouth, then avoid the product.
Chemical fragrances can be found throughout the home and even on your body. They are hidden in lotions, in cleaning products, laundry detergent, perfumes, and plug-ins to make the home smell fresh. Chemicals used are known to be carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and reproductive toxicants, even at low levels. I have personally seen many cases of pets, especially cats, that had a toxic reaction to a plug-in.
This is also an area that pet parents can run into trouble when using essential oils. Many essential oils are tainted with artificial fragrances, which can then lead to respiratory issues and toxicity in pets. A pure product will not contain any of these chemicals and can be used safely with pets, even cats. Make sure you ask your veterinarian first. Some of the companies that I love and trust for essential oils that are safe for pets include Young Living, AnimalEO, and Doterra. With essential oils, more is NOT better, so always start with diffusing in an open room that allows your pet to leave if they want.
5. Food Storage
Yup, even the containers that you store your pet's food in can be a source of toxins. BPA (Bisphenol A), which makes plastics and resins, is a known endocrine disrupter, has been linked to male infertility and even diabetes and heart disease. This chemical has been found in 95% of the human population.
Canned food, plastic storage or feeding bowls can leach BPA into your pet's food or water. While it’s been banned from children’s products, pet products are slower to change. You want to make sure you are looking for the BPA free label on any canned products and storage dishes. Better yet, transition your pet's food and water bowls to stainless steel, glass or ceramic dishes.
There are many toxins in the environment that our pets can be exposed to, but it doesn't mean that we can't take control and reduce the toxic burden. By being proactive with the products we choose to use and not use, we can help our pets thrive and live a long and vibrant life.
Learn more about how food directly impacts your pet's health here.
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*Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Dr. Katie Woodley cannot answer specific questions about your pet's medical issues or make medical recommendations for your pet without first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.