by Melissa Kullman, Master Groomer, Puckabee’s Eco-Friendly Grooming
Many of us have started thinking of ways to make our lives greener and healthier. We cut down on the processed foods that we eat, use products that are chemical free, refuse those products that are tested on animals, and recycle every chance we get. Many of us forget that we need to make healthier, greener choices for our pets too. Our dogs and cats are subjected to many more toxins in their everyday life than you may think.
One of the most important changes you can make for your dog or cat is to remove all chemicals you may use in and around your home. Our pets are exposed to more household chemicals simply because they’re lower to the ground and they’re licking everything. In our homes, they’re breathing in higher doses of toxic floor cleaners, fabric freshening sprays, and carpet cleaners. They’re sleeping on the floors, sniffing everything, eating off of our floors, and nosing through our garbage cans. Not only are they breathing in and rolling around in chemicals, but their feet are in constant contact with them too. Think of how much time your pet spends licking his/her feet and coat, and you’ll understand how important is to remove those toxins that they ingest daily. We also need to eliminate the chemicals that we’re using on the outside of our homes. In our backyards and gardens our dogs (especially) are rolling through lawn fertilizers, licking up pesticides and sniffing herbicides. This spring and summer, look for organic and chemical-free substitutes to keep your lawn lush and garden growing.
We can also eliminate unhealthy additives and chemicals in our pets’ food! We need to keep a close eye on what’s in our pets’ food just as we do our own. Many dog and cat food companies add fillers like corn and wheat, synthetic preservatives (BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Propylene glycol), artificial colors and flavors, animal byproducts, and sugars. All of these artificial ingredients lead to so many health problems, including development of allergies, poor digestion, dry skin and coat, hot spots, and increased ear infections, to name a few. Before choosing a food for your pet, read the entire ingredients list and do your research.
Let’s not forget about your dog’s treats! There are as many additives in your dog’s treats as in their foods. Try giving your dog vegetables as a treat. You may be surprised what they actually like. Carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers, green beans, peas, and bananas are a good place to start (no grapes or raisins). Not only will you be giving your pet a treat filled with vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, but you’ll be giving them a snack low in fat. Try making your own dog treats. Check out “this” recipe for Sweet Potato Chips (you may find that you love them too).
If your schedule does not allow DIY dog treats, check out local dog bakery Woof Naturals (available at Puckabee’s and Just Local Food Cooperative). Woof Natural dog treats are available in a variety of flavors and are free of corn and wheat, and they contain organic ingredients.
Shampoos and perfumed sprays can also be harmful. Some shampoos contain sulfates, parabens, and artificial perfumes that can cause skin irritations and make pre-existing skin problems worse. If you’re bathing your pet at home make sure you purchase a high quality eco-friendly shampoo. Also, talk to your groomer about the products they’re using. Make sure they’re using products that are plant based, cruelty free, biodegradable and chemical free.
We should also be wary of flea and tick spot on treatments. These chemical based treatments are applied to and absorbed into the skin and contain chemicals such as pyrethroids, tetrachlorvinphos, and permethrin. According to the EPA these chemicals are classified as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans”.* Try an herbal spray (dogs only) like Simply Herbs Flea and Tick spray available at Puckabee’s Eco-Friendly Grooming. Consider planting herbs and plants that naturally repel fleas and ticks in your yard.
All these changes make a huge difference in your dogs health. These health benefits include fewer cancers, better digestion, healthier skin and coat, reduced allergies, and most importantly a happy pet.
* For more information about flea and tick spot on treatments, including signs of posioning from these products visit www.humanesociety.org.