The chemical stew created by a myriad of household products can be dangerous not only to you and your family, but especially to your household pets. Just like toddlers, pets spend most of their time down close to ground – both in and out of doors – rolling around on the floor or carpet, playing with their favourite toy or treat, and romping around outside, roaming their turf and doing their business.
Scientific studies over the past few years indicate that our pets are the proverbial canary in a coal mine, a signal that chemical compounds in household items like flame retardant, carpeting, air fresheners, deodorizers and lawn pesticides are having a lethal effect on our four-legged family members.
It only stands to reason that if our pets are getting sick at an alarming rate after the introduction of new household product, what are these products doing to human physiology?
A new study has linked the rise of feline hyperthyroidism to the introduction of flame retardant chemical applications to furniture cushions and fabrics, electronics and such. While the original intent was to prevent injury and death, it turns out that the chemicals are absorbed into our systems – both human and animal. Another study shows a correlation between pesticides and lymphoma and bladder cancer in dogs.
So what are healthiest ways to care for your pet? Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Avoid items that have been chemically-treated
Wherever possible, ‘au naturel’ is best. Flame retardant chemical application has been outlawed since 2000, so, unless you have antiques, you may want to invest in some new furniture. If you’re getting new carpeting, have it aired out before it is installed; and air out the room after the process is completed.
2. Dust and vacuum regularly
If you’ve ever dusted on a sunny day, you’ve seen the gazillion motes of dust dancing in the sunlight. Household dust is not only made up of dead skin, but also includes chemicals leaching from our possessions, so regular vacuuming and dusting helps prevent build-up of toxins in the home and air.
Cleaning pros say dusting should start at the top, beginning with light fixtures, ceiling fans, door frames and pictures, then downward to lampshades, tables and baseboards. Finish up with vacuuming, preferably with a good vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter – or HEPA, as it’s commonly known.
3. Use natural cleaning products
Stay away from air fresheners and rug deodorizers – both of which leave chemicals hanging around for a long time. There are lots of online resources such as this handy reference guide from Davidsuzuki.org that offers clear and simple directions on how to make your own natural cleaning supplies.
4. Use natural pesticides for lawn and garden
To reduce chemical exposure outdoors on your property, visit online resources for natural pesticide recipes like Wikipedia, Eartheasy.com, and Globalhealingcenter.com. If you haven’t already, start a compost pile to both reduce the amount of household waste and create your own rich soil for gardening. If you hire a lawn care company, be sure to choose one that uses natural and organic methods for weed and pest control.
Remember, when it comes to your home and your family – including the four-legged variety – natural, local and organic choices are often the best.