Minimize Toxins in Your Pet’s Living Space

In observation of Poison Prevention Week (3/19-3/25), the Barkery is spreading awareness about common household toxins in your pet’s living space. Many of the products we and our pets come into contact with are subtle, slow poisons. There is no regulation on thousands of chemicals that are used in everyday items such as plastics, electronics, furniture, foams, and fabrics – essentially everything industry makes that isn’t food.

How Pets Absorb Toxins

The skin is a primary route of absorption. Skin is the largest organ of your pet’s body, and it absorbs like a sponge any chemicals in the environment or products that are directly in contact. Pets can also absorb toxins in their food, especially containing carbohydrates sourced from industrial farming.

Toxins can also be absorbed through inhalation. Many plastics and paints outgas volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are extremely toxic. Non-physical toxic influences can also affect our fur babies, such as electromagnetic radiation from wifi, mobile phones and pet tracking tags.

Light pollution and blue heavy light from TV and other electronics can upset sleep patterns. And finally, the flea and tick control products we give our pets are full of toxic chemicals. All of these cause obvious adverse effects, including death, and subtle toxic harm to others. Whenever possible, we should use natural alternatives to these products.

Common Household Toxins

  • In the Kitchen
    Avoid giving your dog a taste of the following: chocolate, Xylitol (found in sugar-free gum & some peanut butter), grapes, raisins, alcohol, yeast dough, caffeine, onions, macadamias, and mushrooms.
  • In the Garage
    Your garage, shed, basement, or cabinets contain a number of substances that your pet may get into. Keep the following out of reach: dishwashing detergent, bleach, household cleaners, rodent poisons or traps, slug bait, fertilizer, lawn/garden chemicals, antifreeze, de-icing salts, and toxic garbage.
  • In the Medicine Cabinet
    The most common toxins in the medicine cabinet are: hand sanitizer, acetaminophens (Tylenol), Pseudoephedrines (Sudafed), Albuterol found in inhalers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, ibuprofen, Aspirin), and THC in medicinal marijuana.
  • In the Yard (or House)
    Plants are everywhere, and many are toxic to dogs and cats, including: lily, tulip, azalea, daffodil, foxglove, sago palm, dumbcane, and yew. In addition, cocoa mulch (which has an appealing scent), fertilizers and plant foods should be avoided.

Ways to Minimize Toxins

  • Do Away With Plastics.
    Get rid of all the plastics your pet comes into contact with, including carpets and furniture, plastic food storage containers, bowls, and toys. Invest in stainless steel bowls, glass storage containers and natural fiber toys.
  • Eliminate Artificial Products.
    Products in your home with artificial fragrance should be removed. These contain compounds that are very poisonous, and most are made from the same family of chemicals as pesticides. They include, but are not limited to: fragrances in cleaning/personal products such as air fresheners, floor cleaners, cleaning sprays, perfumes, laundry liquids, shampoos, deodorants, soaps, detergents – the list goes on. To deal with this one, you’ll need to be come an avid label reader.
  • Don’t Use Pesticides.
    Remove all pesticide or insecticide sprays from your home, and stop using them altogether. Fly paper/sticky traps can be used to control insect pests instead. It is also important not to use herbicide or pesticide sprays in your yard, at least not where your dog may roam.
  • Don’t Feed Commercial Pet Foods.
    The carbohydrates in commercial pet foods are sourced from industrial farms and contain Roundup (aka glyphosate). Roundup attacks the metabolic pathways in plants that are also in your pet’s good get bacteria, and poisons them, which can lead to major gut problems in your dog. Look for certified-organic ingredients in your pet’s food.
  • Use Natural Bedding
    Artificial fibers in fabrics are toxic too. Using natural fibers in your pet’s bedding, collars, and clothing can minimize exposure to toxins. It’s also important to wash all bedding, collars, and clothing before you put them on your dog, even if they are natural fibers.

For more on household toxins, please visit Dogs Naturally Magazine, Pet Poison Helpline, or ASPCA.