By Carole Milligan, A.C.A.N. graduate and Certified Carnivore Nutrition Health Coach
As a naturopathic animal health coach and consultant, my clients often tell me about cats and/or dogs that have allergies, skin problems, IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease), and autoimmune illnesses. Suppressive medications, which can also be damaging to the body, are often prescribed in an effort to control the animal’s symptoms. Clients are dismayed when they discover that so many cleaning products, even so-called “natural” products, are filled with chemicals that are carcinogens, as well as immune system and hormone system disruptors. Clients are dismayed even more when they realize that products used in their households are likely contributing to their animals’ ill health, and perhaps their own health problems.
Recently, I wrote a consultation for a client whose dog suffers with liver disease. Here is a partial generic list of products used in his household, and the possible toxic effects of those products:
Heartworm preventive medication-linked to liver problems, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, lethargy, skin eruptions, seizures, tremors, autoimmune disorders, thyroid dysfunction, pneumonia, sudden aggressiveness, nerve damage, fertility problems, and sudden death.
Spot-on pesticides-skin redness and irritation, nervous system damage, convulsions, loss of appetite, unsteady gait, thyroid cancer, and organ damage (necropsies on dogs have shown an accumulation of pesticide neurotoxin in livers and kidneys).
Household pesticides-associated with mammary tumors, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, brain disorders, reproductive problems, and cancer.
Scented products, such as air fresheners and candles-respiratory problems from artificial perfumes and scents. Paraffin in candles releases carcinogenic chemicals when burned, particularly benzene and toluene. Benzene is known to cause cancer in people and animals. Toluene is known to affect the central nervous system, and is associated with brain, liver and kidney damage.
Floor cleaning products-Many products are noted to be of concern, due to ingredients that are linked to asthma and other respiratory problems, cancer, systemic/organ effects, nervous system effects, and irritation/allergies/damage of the skin and eyes. Other potential damage has been reported to cause blood disorders resulting in damage to the kidneys, liver, and spleen.
Window cleaning products-may contain ingredients with the potential for aquatic toxicity, respiratory effects, nervous system effects, general systemic/organ system effects.
Bathroom cleaning products-may contain ingredients with potential for respiratory effects, cancer, developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects, aquatic toxicity, and skin irritation/allergies/damage.
Laundry products-may contain ingredients with potential for respiratory effects, aquatic toxicity, and other health effects.
I could continue on with the adverse effects caused by chemicals in yard care products and personal care products, but I think you get the idea. My client was certainly taken aback by how many products used in his household were contributing to his dog’s ill health.
Many commonly used products contain ingredients that are considered to be GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). However, those ingredients can build up in the body over time, eventually reaching toxic levels. Our pets have smaller bodies, and reach toxic overloads earlier than we do. In particular, cats are very sensitive to chemicals, and can react very quickly to even very low levels of chemicals in household products.
What if the part of the answer to improving pet health was as simple as going back to truly non-toxic cleaners? White vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice can all be used to as household cleaners. Baking soda, white vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide can be used clean, soften, and whiten laundry. Woolen dryer balls can be used to remove static electricity while clothes are in the laundry. Companies such as Young Living Essential Oils provide non-toxic air freshening, cleaning and personal care products. You will find that there are many alternatives to using products with toxic ingredients.
Before using ANY product in your house, I urge you to do a little research. Use the Internet to find the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for any product. Use websites such as the one belonging to the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), to find out how a product is graded. Investigate the products you are already using in your household, and check out new products before you use them. Change out/swap any toxic products for those with non-poisonous ingredients. Your health and your pets’ health will benefit!
Some of the many Internet sources that address toxins in common products:
The information on this blog is intended as educational only. It is not intended to replace your veterinarian. Please do your own research and use your own good judgment.
Carole Milligan is a graduate of ACAN, certified as a Carnivore Nutrition Consultant, that writes occasional articles on pet wellness, and has edited books on pet wellness.
© All original content copyright (Carole Milligan) (2014)