15 Ways Your Home Might Be Poisoning Your Pet (We Never Thought About #9!)

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

2. Perfluorochemicals

There are several types of perfluorochemicals, basically lumped together and called PFC’s. They are a type of artificial chemical that have been used since the 1950s as a coating to make products resistant to stains, water, oil, or heat. They are used in a wide variety of applications, including furniture, adhesive, clothing, food packaging, carpets, rugs, and even dental floss. Perhaps the most well-known PFC is Teflon. These chemicals are super long lasting and do not degrade easily, which means that they can persist in our environment for years, contaminating our air, soil, food, and water. One study, conducted by the Environmental Working Group, took a look at the blood of household cats and dogs to see if they contained the same level of PFCs as humans do. This study found that dogs had 3 times more of these toxins in their blood as their owners did, while cats were right about the same as humans. PFC’s are hormone disruptors, cause liver damage and damage to the pancreas, liver diseases, thyroid disease, and cancer. Avoid these dangerous chemicals by avoiding non-stick cookware and opting for cast iron or copper pans instead. You can also avoid those “stain resistant” carpets, rugs, furniture, and especially pet beds. Steer clear of any name such as Gore-Tex, Stainmaster, Scotchgard, or Teflon. All of these items contain PFCs.

 

3. Antifreeze

Almost all antifreeze used in cars today contains a substance called ethylene glycol. This compound is sweet smelling and has a flavor that most cats and dogs seem to like. Unfortunately, even as little as half of a teaspoon of antifreeze can kill a housecat. One cup (8 ounces) can kill a large, 75-pound dog. Even just one or two licks can cause irreversible kidney damage. Always keep an eye out for small green puddles on sidewalks, parking lots, driveways, and alongside curbs, any place where a car can leak antifreeze can mean death to a small animal. If you see antifreeze on your driveway or any other place, wipe it up immediately. Also, consider changing the antifreeze in your car to propylene glycol, which is not nearly as toxic as ethylene glycol.

 

4. Phthalates

Phthalates are a chemical plasticizer, which are used to make products more flexible and softer. They are another dangerous chemical which are used in everything from shower curtains to raincoats, medication capsules to plastic wrap, shampoo to perfume to nail polish. Phthalates are considered to be a human carcinogen, according to the National Toxicology Program. Although the worst offenders have been removed from children’s toys, there have been no efforts to remove these toxins from pet toys and pet dishes. Testing done for phthalates in dog urine have found the same compounds that have been banned in kid’s toys. To avoid these chemicals, store your pet’s food in any type of container except for plastic. Consider stainless steel water and food bowls for your pet and purchase only phthalate-free chew toys for your dog.

 

5. De-icing Salts

Those de-icing salts that are used to melt ice and snow are a really dangerous hazard for your pets. After walking on these treated surfaces, dogs licked their paws and many became sick. These can be short-lived illnesses such as vomiting, nausea, and hyper-salivating, but consuming large quantities can lead to an electrolyte imbalance that can cause irritation to the gastrointestinal system, lethargy, and tremors. De-icing salts are also well known for causing skin irritation, cracks, and burns on the pads of dogs’ feet. Use waterproof doggie boots when sidewalks and streets have been salted. Don’t use salts on your driveways or sidewalks, and instead use kitty litter, sand, or crushed cinders whenever possible.

 

6. Flame Retardant Chemicals

These are added to almost everything in the home, including textiles, building materials, electronics, and almost all home furnishings. Flame retardant chemicals have been used for decades but tests have shown that they don’t actually offer much protection from fire. In spite of evidence to the contrary, furniture continues to be treated with flame retardant materials. In this instance, cats tend to test more positive for these dangerous chemicals than dogs do, perhaps because they spend more time on the family furniture. Vacuum with a HEPA filter that helps to pick up these dangerous fibers. Look for more natural fibers such as polyester, cotton, down, and wool. Avoid polyurethane foam products and don’t purchase items that are marked “flame retardant.”

 

7. Fertilizers

Believe it or not, lawn fertilizers are often combined with herbicides. The most common type call themselves “weed and feed”, combining herbicides and fertilizers. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that there was a definite link between herbicides and malignant lymphoma in dogs (not to mention non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in people!). Dogs were twice as likely to develop lymphoma even if their owners used these herbicides on their lawns just four times a year. Even if you don’t use these types of fertilizers, your local park might. You can avoid this dangerous risk to your pet by using natural fertilizers, such as plain cow manure or fish fertilizer, or corn gluten, which naturally helps to prevent weeds while being a great fertilizer for lawns.

 

8. Formaldehyde

You most likely already know that this is a human carcinogen, but it is used in just about everything from insulation to building materials, paint, wood finishes, lacquer, glues, and preservatives for medicines. Formaldehyde is released into the air when it reaches room temperature. This toxin is then inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or even consumed in our foods. Formaldehyde is toxic to all living things and yet, it still has not been banned. To avoid this chemical, keep windows open when painting or doing renovations. Read product labels carefully to avoid formaldehyde in shampoos and other products. If it contains sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, or DMDM hydantoin, purchase another product. Look for more natural products, such as cotton, rayon, metal, wool, solid wood, and stainless steel, which are highly unlikely to contain formaldehyde.

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