Poisons, Pesticides, & Our Pets
Toxins can cause, worsen, or accelerate many health problems in people and pets. But many of the toxins that can profoundly affect our own and our pets' health are hidden, and we may be unknowingly contributing to the load of toxins we and our pets have in their bodies. While toxins are bad for us, they can also be harmful to our pets for several reasons:
- Pets are generally much smaller than we are, with smaller organs of elimination (e.g., liver, kidneys, lungs). When exposed to toxins, their bodies have to work much harder than ours do to eliminate them.
- Pets have a shorter life span. They don't have the luxury of time that we have for their bodies to eliminate toxins as gradually.
- Pets can't talk to us to let us know when something in their food or environment is making them feel sick. They can't switch their own food or decide to stop using a household cleaner that irritates their sinuses or lungs.
Since we control our pets' environment, they rely on us to reduce the toxins they encounter. However, some may still get into your pet through accidental ingestion. Outdoor toxins might enter our pets when they breathe them in, eat chemical-laden grass, lick residue off their paws, or absorb them through their paws. Be aware of: weed killers, pesticides, automotive exhaust, motor oil, and sidewalk deicers.
More toxins can be directly ingested in your pet's drinking water, in commercial food and treats, and in the over-the-counter or prescription medications they take. And finally, some toxins (e.g., ammonia) are produced within your pet's body, either through their own metabolic processes or by microbial activity, most often bacteria or yeast in the GI tract.
In a healthy body, toxins are rounded up and removed quickly through the organs of elimination (liver, kidneys, lungs, intestines, and skin). In the short run, our pets' bodies react to toxins as ours do - the immune system ramps up processes like inflammation, mucus production or diarrhea to help the immune system's army of cells resolve the problem and purge the offending "invaders" from the system. Ultimately toxic overload may impede the work of your pet's immune system and may lead to other serious health troubles.
Below are our suggestions, many of which can be found in these excellent books by top holistic veterinarians:
- The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care, by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM
- The Nature of Animal Healing, by Martin Goldstein, DVM
- Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn
14 Steps to Detox Your Pet
Upgrade Your Dog's & Cat's Food & Treats
Improving the quality of your pet's diet is helpful for well-being and longevity. Commercial food and treats may have indigestible ingredients, along with poor quality proteins and fillers that tax your pet's digestion and increase the toxic load on their bodies. Choosing natural food and treats can help support normal detoxification processes. Only Natural Pet offers only the best in highly digestible, additive-free natural dog foods and natural cat food.
Give Your Dog & Cat Filtered Water
While the water that flows through your household pipes may be technically "fit to drink," it may still damage your pet's health. Your pets deserve better, and so do you. Filtered water can help support the body from exposure to such environmental toxins. Water filtration units are readily available and you don't have to spend a lot to get a good one. It's well worth the investment - and after all, what's more valuable than your companion's health?
Herbal Supplements for Your Pets
Nutrient supplements that contain "greens" and cleansing herbs can help promote normal detoxification. Greens supplements add a wide variety of nutrients commonly missing from even the best pet foods, including full spectrum amino acids, chlorophyll, antioxidants, trace minerals, and essential fatty acids. Cleansing herbs each have unique properties that may support the health of one or more organ systems in the body (See below for specifics). We offer many excellent natural dog supplements and natural cat supplements.
Be Mindful of Household Chemicals
Besides the obvious chemicals in bug killers, cleaning products and solvents, beware of those found in perfumes, air fresheners, scented plug-ins, laundry products and even dryer sheets! These can be laden with chemicals and may cause or worsen respiratory conditions like asthma in people and pets. Look for natural cleaning products, or make your own. There are many resources for making effective cleaning products from ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. Check out our non-toxic Only Natural Pet Stain & Odor Remover.
Exercise Every Day with Your Pet
Your pet needs exercise as much as you do, and a daily workout benefits your pet's organs of elimination. Exercise improves the movement of waste materials through the digestive tract and helps support proper digestion and bowel health. Exercise may also help support normal circulatory function, your pet's primary means of moving micro-toxins and cellular debris through the body for elimination. Finally, exercise supports respiratory health. Don't let a dog's bad walking behavior or a cat's boredom prevent you from giving your pets the exercise they need. Choosing the best dog harness or head collar can help curb dogs' pulling tendencies, making walks easier. An outdoor walking harness for kitties allows safe outdoor exercise, and some natural cat toys will keep your kitty's muscles toned from "hunting prey."
Improve Air Quality
Indoor air pollution can come from household chemicals (see #4 above), and pets can be affected by the toxins in cigarette and cigar smoke. Toxins in the air may also come from gaseous chemicals emanating from new synthetic household items like flooring, carpeting, and furniture. Keep these areas of the house well-ventilated if you have new household items that give off that tell-tale “new” smell. Consider using window fans or leaving windows open for some fresh air while the items are exuding high levels of chemical residues. Use bathroom fans to reduce chemical residues from spray-on cosmetic items like hair spray and perfume.
Minimize Your Pet's Exposure to Outdoor Pollutants & Chemicals
Pets that spend time outdoors will undoubtedly encounter chemicals used for pest control, weed killers, fertilizers and more. If your dog likes to eat grass or other plants, keep a close eye on them walking near neighbors' yards and in public places like parks, where chemicals are common. Adding greens to the diet may help curb this tendency in both cats and dogs (See #3 above). For cats, we carry the SmartCat Kitty Garden, which lets you grow a healthy assortment of grasses free of contaminants and may help provide nutrients for a healthy body.
Support Your Pet's Liver
Your pet's liver does the lion's share of elimination of toxins. Antioxidants are important for normal liver function, and some detoxification supplements have herbs like milk thistle that can support liver health. While young healthy pets are unlikely to require daily liver support, older pets may benefit from regular use of liver support products. As always, consult with a holistic vet to determine liver detox for dogs and cats. Read more in our article, " liver supplements for dogs in "Liver Supplements for Dogs & Cats" by our consulting holistic veterinarian, Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM.
Provide Immune Support for Your Pet
Your pet's immune system works in tandem with the elimination organs to keep your pet well and supporting immune health enhances organ function. For healthy pets, multivitamins & mineral supplement can support a healthy immune system. Antioxidant supplements may be of particular benefit to older or active pets by helping to support immune system function.
Take Care of Your Pet's Skin & Coat
Cats and dogs eliminate toxins through their skin, and a regular brushing regimen may help your pet's skin "breathe" and facilitate this process. Regular grooming can also removes dust and debris that may contain toxic residue For dogs especially, consider the quality of the bath products you use, and choose natural grooming products that help support normal detoxification processes. We offer many dog grooming products, including hydrating spray for dogs and itch relief shampoo for dogs that help maintain healthy skin.
Support Your Pet's Healthy Digestion
Most toxins your pet's body eliminates pass through the colon, and a healthy digestive system keeps toxins moving through before they can damage the intestinal walls or be reabsorbed. A sluggish bowel, or alternately, an irritated one (which may be present with chronic diarrhea) suggests that the microbe balance may be out of kilter, which complicates the elimination of toxins. With constipation, toxic materials can be released back into your pet's bloodstream before they pass through. Microbes out of balance (for example bacteria and yeast) can produce their own toxins. Probiotics, enzymes, or complete gi support for dogs can help support colon health and normal digestive function.
Support Your Pet's Kidneys
The simplest thing you can do to support the kidneys of a healthy cat or dog is to ensure that they drink ample filtered water every day. Toxins excreted through the kidneys become highly concentrated in chronically dehydrated pets, and can damage the tiny structures in the kidneys' filtration system. Likewise, mineral particles can form when urine is highly concentrated. This may result in the formation of crystals or stones that can cause blockages or irritation to urinary tract structures, which may set the stage for recurrent infections that may damage kidneys. If your pet doesn't drink much water, consider a pet fountain (See #2 above), and provide more liquids with meals by adding broth or water and canned food to provide extra moisture. For pets with urinary tract issues, you may want to discuss with your veterinarian supplements for urinary tract and/or kidney support.
Keep It Clean
Studies show that the home environment generally has far worse air quality than the outdoors. However, much of the toxic material in our homes blows into our houses from dust and outdoor pollutants. Keeping your home free of dust with regular dusting and vacuuming can greatly reduce the toxic particulate matter that pets ingest. Another place to be strict with cleaning is your pet's food and water bowls. Change water daily and wash your pet's bowls, as dust and germs can accumulate here in abundance.
Gently Detox Your Pet with Herbs & Homeopathics
Because our pets live with us and ingest many toxins in our shared environment, even the healthiest cats and dogs can benefit from regular intervals of gentle detoxification. We carry several herbs like milk thistle, red clover, dandelion, and astragalus that can help support normal detoxification processes.
Keep in mind that as the body is eliminating toxins, it is not unusual for a brief "healing crisis," in which a cat or dog may develop symptoms like a runny nose or changes in bowel function or appetite. Such symptoms typically subside in a few days. As always, observe your pet closely when you administer any remedy, stop any remedy if symptoms develop that concern you, and consult with a holistic veterinarian for appropriate guidance. Please see our article, " Administering Remedies to Your Companion," for additional suggestions.
Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.