Tuesday, April 20, 2010 8:34 AM

Protecting Pets from Indoor Environmental Toxins

We live in a toxic world, no doubt. Environmental toxins and contaminants cause illness in all living creatures. While much of this pollution is not within our personal control, some of it certainly is, and it is well worth the effort to make our own immediate environs as toxin-free as possible. Here are some well- and not-so-well-known poisons that we can eliminate from our personal realms to help keep our pets, as well as ourselves, as healthy as possible:

Household cleaners: Keep all store-bought cleaners away from your pets. Better yet, don't buy them at all. You can easily make your own cleaners at home from common items such as baking soda and white vinegar. Use shampoo as an all purpose cleaner, but be aware that dandruff shampoos contain carcinogenic ingredients and should be avoided.

Pesticides: Indoor pesticides used for roaches and ants contain chemicals that can sicken or kill your pet. Use more natural methods of pets control, such as keeping food preparation areas clean and clearing brush and trees that touch your home and therefore provide an easy entrance for ants. It goes without saying, of course, that mothballs are extremely toxic and should never be used under any circumstances.

Air fresheners: These products contribute considerably to indoor air pollution and should be avoided. Many of these contain phthlates, a known hormone disruptor. Additionally, your pet could conceivably be poisoned if he licks the product, especially if some of the actual chemical stick is visible. Keeping your house clean is the best way to control indoor odors.

Laundry Products: According to Prevention magazine, all of the most popular laundry detergents and softeners contain chemicals that the Environmental Protection Agency considers toxic or hazardous. Remember that you are washing your pet's bedding with these products (as well as your own)! Use plant-based, dye-and-fragrance free detergents; avoid softeners. Never let your pet play with dryer sheets, even ones that have been used.

Indoor paints: Buy only low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and use during good weather so that you can open windows to vent and allow the product to "gas off" over a period of two or more weeks. Clean up well after each painting session, and never allow your pet into the room you are currently painting. Use only latex paint, so that you can at least clean up tainted paws with soap and water in case of an accident.

Tomorrow: Wait! There's more!
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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