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Are Your Household Cleaners Making Your Pet Sick?

2010 November 13

a silver tabby stands on a robin egg blue floor vacuum while a yellow lab rests his head on the vacuum

Clean with Confidence!

Some Pets Suffer In Spite of Your Best Efforts

Doc Truli came across a scientific report that might explain why some pets are still itchy and miserable after all of your best efforts.

Maybe you have tried the allergy diet trial.  Maybe you cook for your pet.  Maybe your cat is ripping her fur out and still itchy after seeing the dermatologist several times. Maybe you’ve done the gammit of allergy investigation and treatment. Maybe your veterinary behavior specialist has tried 3 or 4 drugs on your pet thinking that he or she is “crazy.”  Maybe your dog only feels okay if he takes daily prednisone, and you cannot fathom why he’s still allergic.

Are Scented Products Safe and Enjoyable for Your Pet?

Many people cannot stand scented products.  For some, it gets so bad, their bodies become “universal reactors.” (Multiple chemical sensitivity is considered an illegitimate diagnosis, it is fascinating to consider, however.)  Any chemicals set these people into migraines, hives, and excruciating pain.  They usually end up living in special housing with strict control of the products they use.  These people can get sick from touching a new shirt in a store that has a cotton protectant on it to prevent soiling during the shipping and sales process.  A universal reactor might be responding to the chemicals and poisons the rest of us just “live with.”  Most physicians in the US believe this is quackery,  but still, it is interesting to study and consider!

Think this is melodramatic?  It is not!  Ever try to read the label on window cleaner?  Laundry detergent?  Dryer sheets?  Dish soap? Dishwasher detergent? Drain decloggers?  Go look under your kitchen sink right now!

(You’re back quick!)

No ingredients, right?  Or a tiny list of one or two, and that’s it! (Doc Truli recently bought Martha Stewart brand counter spray at Home Depot.  Gasp!  It listed the ingredients!  Maybe they’re all there…)

What’s the deal?  US Federal law does not require ingredient labeling on household products.  You read right.  They put lots of stuff in there, and no one has the right to require manufacturers to tell us what’s in there!

If it smells to you, what do you think your cat or dog smells?

Three cute dogs look sad because of harsh chemicals they can smell in your household cleaners.

Can't you smell that, mommy?

Dogs can smell breast cancer before a pathologist can see it under the microscope.  With a nose that sensitive, do you think your household cleaners smell a little strong?  Do you think your dog enjoys your dryer sheets?   Ever see a dog sneeze as you shake out the sheets to make the bed?

How about your perfume?

How about the air freshener in the car on the way to the vet’s office?  Don’t you get a tiny headache the first day you put the thing in the car?

Imagine if the lining of your dog’s nose was spread out flat.  It would cover a football field.  Doc means world football (soccer to the US), not NFL stuff.  A whole field being assaulted by your cosmetics, cleaners, and scents.

So what?

Fabulous Study Looks at Household Scented Products

You know what they found?

Of 133 chemicals detected in 25 products, which were the leading best-selling brands on the market,
25% of those chemicals are toxic or hazardous under federal law.  More than a third of the products emitted at least one probable carcinogen according to EPA standards.

All products tested emitted at least one toxic or hazardous chemical!

Now the kicker that got VirtuaVet’s attention: half of the products tested were labelled “organic,” “natural,” or “green!”

“Surprisingly, the green products’ emissions of hazardous chemicals were not significantly different from the other products,” said lead author Anne Steinemann, UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs.

So, really, what’s bothering your pets?

Reconsider Your Products

Lock up your scented products for a month or two. Food allergy tests take 8 weeks.  Therefore, two months is a reasonable amount of test time for a “scent” test.

The study authors were clear to point out that they could not publish the product names because they did not want to seem to imply that those products tested were any worse than any other products on the market.

Do you understand?

They mean, all the products could all be bad.

There is legislation proposed in Congress to require complete labeling of household products.

The study authors suggest we try vinegar, baking soda, open the windows to ventilate while cleaning, and perhaps try products with no fragrance. You may have a transition period in which you feel like things do not “smell clean” because you are used to pine or lemon or whatever scent signifies clean to you.

But, remember, the products tested all emitted at least one chemical known to be toxic, and half emitted a carcinogenic chemical.  Perhaps you will finally break the cycle of allergic insanity in your pet.  Who knows?  Maybe your life will become easier and happier once the scented products are no longer challenging your system with toxins!


Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Spurious Diagnosis by Stephen Barrett, MD

Science News Daily: Scented Consumer Products Shown to Emit Many Unlisted Chemicals

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