Cleaning and maintaining our homes is a necessary evil. We like to have nicely landscaped yards that are free from unsightly weeds, and we take great pride in power washing our siding to keep it looking new. On the inside of our homes, we strive to keep our floors and windows sparkling clean and work hard to remove excess pet hair and dirt from our furniture and carpets. But we need tools to get these jobs done. Sometimes those tools come in the form of an electrical appliance; a lawnmower, vacuum cleaner, or weed whipper. Other times, we need to make use of chemicals in our war against, dirt, overgrowth, mold, and bacteria.
Cleaners are a wonderful thing. They greatly simplify and improve our lives. But in recent years, some of our most favourite products have turned out to be unsafe; not only for our pets, but also for our earth and ourselves. To preserve the health and safety of all, those products are no longer available for use in Canada.
Keeping a clean and organized house
We still need and use cleaners. There are many cleaners available for home and commercial use which have received approval from the Canadian health and safety division for use for their designated purposes. However, just because a chemical is considered safe for cleaning, does not necessarily mean that it is safe for our pets. Also, a product that is safe for use topically may not be safe when ingested. Because of this, it is important for pet owners to know and to understand what chemicals are potentially toxic and to take measures to ensure that they are housed in places that are inaccessible to pets.
Keeping track of what is toxic
It is helpful for homeowners to have a list of potentially hazardous cleaners and home maintenance products. By taking careful stock of the products that you use in your home and their potential effects on your pets, you can eliminate some products that are simply too risky and make certain that your must haves are safely stored away from pet access.
Among the chemical products that must be carefully safeguarded are:
Lawn fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides—One of the most popular lawn treatments to aid in the growth of grass while inhibiting weeds is a product that was referred to as “Weed n Feed”. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute conducted a study in 1991 and later shared the findings that Weed n Feed contained a weed killer that was believed to be responsible for cancerous growths in dogs as well as in humans. The weed killing chemical was identified as 2,4-D. Research showed that families who chose to use herbicides containing this chemical experienced a 1/3 higher likelihood of developing cancer. Of course, dogs were at an even higher risk. Why is that? Because they walk directly on the affected areas with their unprotected paws. And as dogs do, they like to roll in the grass. All of this allowed for the Weed N Feed to attach to their coats and skin and take residence into the bloodstream of the animal.
Today, it is illegal to use Weed N Feed in Canada. However, there are still a few chemical fertilizers available on the market. The wise homeowner now looks to use natural solutions to pesky weed problems.
Road salts—De-icing salts are a necessity during the winter months in Canada. By nature, they are used to prevent ice and snow buildup and are valued for their melting properties. However, de-icing salts can stick to our pets’ paw pads. Because salt tastes good, our dogs and cats will lick their paw pads clean. In limited amounts, this will not cause any irredeemable harm. However, large amounts can have more serious effects.
Rock salt is the choice preferred by most families. Rock salt is comprised of sodium chloride, a chemical that is toxic to pets. It will cause illness in small doses but in larger amounts can induce burns, skin cracking, and other irritations. If ingested, it can also lead to oral and gastrointestinal distress and lesions.
Other less toxic versions of de-icing salt include potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate, or calcium magnesium acetate.
Other preventative measures include making use of pet footwear to prevent any salt exposure or seeking a de-icing salt that is specifically formulated to get the job done while still being “friendly” to pets.
If all else fails, make certain to give Fido’s paws a good wipedown with an anti-bacterial soap and warm water and to dry them thoroughly after time spent outdoors.
Antifreeze—It cannot be overstated how dangerous it is to leave antifreeze anywhere where our pets could find it. It is not only toxic; it is lethal even in minute amounts. Antifreeze contains the chemical ethylene glycol. Our pets are drawn to it because of its sweet scent. Reports say that as little as ¼ tsp can kill a small animal.
Ethylene glycol works by attacking the renal system. Unfortunately, damage to the kidneys is irreparable, and most typically, fatal.
Care must be take to ensure that any spills are cleaned up immediately to prevent any ingestion by unsuspecting pets.
Ammonia, chlorine, and other household cleaning agents—Some of the most popular household chemicals are the most toxic for us and our pets! We like them because they get the job done. But what unnecessary risks are we taking in the process?
The EPA has reported that household cleaners are responsible for up to 50 percent of sickness in homes. This type of illness is as a result of what is called “indoor pollution”. Essentially, when housed in a confined area with the vapors from powerful household chemical cleaners, deleterious effects are wreaked on the body. This exposure is believed to put homeowners and their pets at greater risk for developing cancer and anemia as well as damage to the liver and kidneys.
Other chemicals such as chlorine and ammonia can cause serious irritation to sensitive membranes and can cause skin problems and respiratory distress.
Other household cleaners that can have negative effects on us and our pets include laundry detergent film that is not sufficiently rinsed from clothing and toilet cleaners.
Among the top chemicals found in household cleaners that are dangerous for us and our pets are bleach, ammonia, chlorine, and formaldehyde.
Keep these chemicals under lock and key at all times.
Should you find your dog or cat has been exposed to any of these chemicals or is showing signs of chemical contamination, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian. Immediate medical care may save your pet’s life. This is not a time to wait to see if it will pass or for home remedies. Even a few minutes of delay can mean the difference between life and death.
Dangerous chemicals got you worried? Consider an all-natural cleaning alternative to keep your home sparkling clean, and your pets and family safe!