We live in a toxic world, and it is becoming more so all the time, and at an alarming rate. No matter how hard we try to avoid exposure to toxins, it is impossible to avoid certain chemicals and carcinogens completely. In this two-part post, we will first address avoiding identifying and avoiding toxins, and in the second part, some specific steps to take after exposure.
Let’s start with diet. Herbicides and pesticides are used extensively in our food supply; even foods that are grown organically can be cross-contaminated from crops that are sprayed with chemicals such as glyphosate. In fact, the use has become so rampant that it has even been tested in the rainwater of certain areas. Constant vigilance is necessary to ensure the purity of your pet’s food supply, and yours as well. Because dogs and cats are carnivores, they eat foods sourced from other animals. It is therefore very important to investigate the sourcing of the foods you feed. What the animals eat and how they are raised has a dramatic affect on the nutritional quality of the end product. If the feed is sprayed with chemicals that becomes part of the food product that you feed your pet. Many food animals are fed diets that are solely designed to cause weight gain, but this can actually make them sick, causing the food produced to be nutritionally imbalanced. For example, cattle raised on grass, which is their natural food, have a healthy balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. In contrast, cattle raised or finished on grain have a much higher omega 6 fraction which leads to inflammation when eaten. This is the reason for much of the bad press that red meat has gotten over the years. It is not the case that red meat is unhealthy; rather meat from cattle raised inappropriately is unhealthy.
In pet foods, even those that start with healthy ingredients can become toxic due to over processing. Processing at high temperatures or pressures not only destroys vital nutrients, but can denature some proteins and fats causing them to become toxic. Regulation in the pet food industry is lax at best, and nutritional standards are so weak that a fully inadequate and toxic diet will meet current standards. The best recourse is to vote with your dollar and favor companies that produce well-sourced, minimally processed products and the stores that sell them. The inquiry must be ongoing as companies frequently change their standards due to industry pressure.
Now let’s talk water. Many toxins and pharmaceutical drugs have been tested in municipal water supplies. The water is also treated with chlorine and fluoride, both of which are toxic. Water alone could be toxic enough to cause cancer in pets. The ideal water source is a natural spring, which also contains important minerals from the earth. This is not a readily available in many areas, so a home filtration system is the next best option. Reverse osmosis is the most complete type of filtration, but it will also remove minerals so these need to be added back in. Toxins can also be absorbed through the skin, so also consider the water you use to bathe your pet. Water from an outside spicket is just as toxic unless you have a private well.
Ok, we have covered what your pet eats and drinks; what about the dishes and utensils you are using? Plastics contain many toxic chemicals, many of which are hormone disruptors that affect the function of the endocrine system. Hormonal regulation is very important to the health of the body, and requires a delicate balance. Once disrupted, the system can cause havoc with the entire body. There is no such thing as a ‘safe’ plastic either. BPA has been incriminated as toxic and many plastics are now labelled ‘BPA-free’ but this is only one chemical and most plastics contain others that are just as toxic. To prevent exposure, use stainless steel, or ceramic that has been stained or glazed with non-toxic products.
Does your pet have toys? The plastics used to make toys are also toxic, so favor natural materials. Chew treats that are animal products must follow the same standards mentioned above for choosing food products. How about bedding? Many fabrics and stuffings are sprayed with chemicals such as flame retardants and anti-bacterial. Your pet comes in direct contact with bedding, not to mention breathing in the fumes. You will pay more for natural fabrics, but the cost is nothing compared to the financial and emotional cost of treating a disease such as cancer.
Inside your home, carpeting and other flooring, furniture, draperies, certain paints and drywall contain toxic chemicals. Now, granted, you may not be able to change all of these things, but at least consider changing to less toxic options over time.
So far, we have been talking about the toxins present in physical materials. What about some toxins that you can’t see? Our culture has become addicted to electronic devices, all of which emit EMF’s, or electromagnetic frequencies that disrupt the health of cells in many parts of the body. Under the microscope, very dramatic and rapid changes can be seen in red blood cells exposed to EMF. Constant exposure from cell phones and towers; wifi; florescent lighting; smart meters can be devastating to your pet’s health and the risk continues to grow as we become more dependent on our electronic devices. There will be an entire section on how to reduce the EMF exposure in your home, but a few things for starters are:
- Distance matters. Keep your cell phone and computer away from you and your pet’s body.
- Power down. Your modem power can be adjusted down to emit less EMF. Better yet, turn it off completely when not in use, especially at night when you are sleeping. This is a valuable time for your body to regenerate and repair and it is imperative that EMF does not interfere with this process.
- If possible, put your cellphone in airplane mode while driving in your car. The phone emits more EMF as it searches for signal.
- Spend time outside contacting the earth directly or consider an earthing sheet or mat.
We have been talking about some changes that you can make to avoid toxins in your pet’s environment, and these are very important steps. The reality is, however, that we cannot completely eliminate toxic exposure. This is why an ongoing detox program is so important. Once again, proper nutrition is key here as it gives the body the tools it needs to use its own detoxification system. The liver and kidneys are the primary organs of detoxification and must be supported. There are herbs that can help with this process, along with drinking plenty of filtered or spring water. We will address this further in part two of this post.