Pet Owners: Keep These Pollutants Out Of Your Home

Your dog is begging you to put out scented candles for good.

April 1, 2015

The paleo dog, which roamed the planet about 2.5 million years ago, probably had to face many natural dangers. But he didn't have to watch out for cars—or cope with the host of environmental toxins, such as air pollution and radiation, that face 21st-century Dog.

Many household cleaners and disinfectants we routinely use are toxic. Some are mislabeled or lack adequate warnings. Over time, exposure to toxins can contribute to many health disorders, including cancer, birth defects, allergies, and an overall weakened immune system. And according to research, the level of toxic metals and other contaminants getting to our pets has reached dangerous proportions.


Pets (and children, for that matter) are most vulnerable to chemical toxicity because of their size and the fact that they metabolize toxins at a higher rate. Many pollutants, because they are heavier than air, are found in greater concentration lower to the ground, where our little guys are apt to receive much higher exposure.   

How can you keep them safe? Consider replacing hazardous cleansers with nontoxic, biodegradable substitutes, which are available at health food stores, online, and at some supermarkets. Or, you can make your own cleaners from safer ingredients. For now, here are 10 general guidelines.

1. Clean greasy pots and kitchen countertops with lemon juice rather than store-bought cleaners.

2. Remove grease from floors, hard surfaces, and glass with distilled white vinegar.

3. White vinegar or diluted bleach kill bacteria and viruses and can be substituted for commercial disinfectants.

4. White vinegar also makes a natural fabric softener.

5. Neem tree oil, pressed from the seed kernels of the neem tree, can be used as an insect repellent in the garden.

6. For a natural furniture polish, try jojoba oil, a liquid produced in the seed of the jojoba shrub.

7. Avoid nonstick products. When overheated, Teflon and related nonstick chemicals exude toxic fumes strong enough to kill a pet bird. Instead, buy cast iron, ceramic, glass, or stainless steel cookware. (Nonstick pots and pans are also classified as thyroid damagers.)

8. Cigarette smoke is hazardous for your pets. If you must smoke, go outside.

9. Marijuana is also toxic to dogs because they do not have the liver pathways to metabolize it. Pot doesn't make them high—it just makes them sick.


10. For your dog's sake, forgo air fresheners and scented candles. A dog's sense of smell is at least 40 times more sensitive than ours. Artificial, and even many natural scents, such as diffused essential oils, are an assault on their noses. (Editor's note: You'll be doing yourself a favor, too. Scented candles and air fresheners emit fuels often worse than what comes out of the tailpipe of a car. Chemicals in scented candles and air fresheners have been tied to cancer, asthma and allergies, and even accelerated aging.)

This article was adapted from Paleo Dog and first appeared in Rodale News.

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