Pets can be overwhelmed by toxins in their environment, just as people can. However, they don’t get a choice about where to hang out, which means that you and I, as their stewards, have the responsibility for keeping their living space as safe as possible.
Your pet’s liver bears the burden of filtering out the chemicals and toxic sludge, in the same way your liver provides that service for you.
Summertime Brings Pretty Poisons
Along with splashy annuals, cookouts and romantic strolls, summertime brings higher levels of chemicals in your environment due to the increased application of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
Just because you avoid these noxious chemicals in and around your house doesn’t necessarily mean your uphill neighbor isn’t riding around on his lawnmower with a tank of Roundup strapped to his back -- like Weedkiller Man, dousing every weed in sight.
County agencies, such as Parks and Recreation, are known to use copious amounts of commercial pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers on parks, highways, and roadways.
Your dog or cat can be exposed to these toxins by visiting public places -- or even your neighbor’s yard. And you can’t see where these nasty-cides lurk. They are invisible and pervasive.
Your animals have another level of exposure from the medications they receive -- which their livers then have to deal with. Flea, tick and heartworm medications abound, particularly in the summer.
These pills, spot-on treatments, dips, solutions, shampoos and collars are not without side effects.
Please don’t assume that a medication that is just being applied to the fur of your animal is benign. What goes on your pet goes in your pet, being readily absorbed through the skin, as well as being ingested while grooming.
Tips for Lowering Your Pet’s Toxic Load
Fortunately, you have some control over your pet’s chemical burden.
Parasites are attracted to the weakest members of the species. Therefore, strengthening your pet’s immune system is crucial in helping him fight off opportunistic offenders, as well as flushing out toxins.
Implementing the following measures will help strengthen your pet’s immune system:
Feed your pet a high-quality, species-appropriate diet
Provide your pet with fresh, clean filtered water
Use an air purification system
Minimize chemicals around the house by avoiding harsh chemical cleaning products
Reduce the number of unnecessary vaccines your pet receives
A major portion of the chemicals your pet accumulates is on his feet. You can actually reduce these with regular foot soaks, or simply rinsing his feet. Increasing the number of baths you give your pet in the summer will also help remove chemicals from his feet and fur.
The EPA is finally acknowledging that there are significant adverse effects to topical flea, tick and heartworm products. These adverse effects range from skin irritation to the worst possible reaction -- the death of your pet!
I cannot stress enough that you need to avoid the unnecessary application of these products, which are turning out to be every bit as toxic as we feared.
As usual, government agencies wait to act until it’s too late for many.
Safer Alternatives for Flea and Tick Prevention
Some pets are more at risk for developing flea and tick borne illness than others, depending on their location and habits. The indoor housecat in Canada does not have the same risk as the outdoor westie in Florida. You should discuss your pet’s risk with a holistic veterinarian, and together, design a parasite control program that is as nontoxic as possible.
The focus of any parasite control program should be creating healthy bodies that are naturally more resilient. Your holistic vet will have a large arsenal of natural products from which to choose.
Here are just a few possibilities:
Essential oil sprays can be very effective as parasite deterrents, making your pet an unattractive host. You need to purchase a pre-blended product or work with an animal aromatherapist to make sure you’re using safe oils at the correct concentration.
Cedar oil is a long-recognized flea eradicator, and products exist that are specially formulated for cats and dogs.
Natural diatomaceous earth helps to remove fleas and ticks from your pet’s body.
Fresh garlic can be given to dogs and cats to prevent internal as well as external parasites. Work with your vet on providing a safe amount for your pet’s body weight.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should minimize use of pharmaceutical topical flea and tick products.
If you do use them, there are some steps you can take to lower the probability for adverse reactions:
You can use the natural products in combination with the chemical ones to reduce the frequency of application of the chemical products. Rotating chemical applications with natural deterrents every other month works well for many pet owners.
Be sure to carefully follow the dosing directions on the label (and do not apply dog topical on cats!).
Monitor your pet for adverse reactions after application, especially when using these products for the first time on your pet. Like people, dogs and cats can have severe acute allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).
If you are using flea or heartworm chemical preventatives, I recommend giving your pet something to help his liver detox from these agents.
One herb that is very good for the liver is milk thistle. Milk thistle helps with liver detoxification and hepatocellular regeneration -- meaning it stimulates regeneration of liver cells.
You can get milk thistle through your holistic vet, who can advise you about the dose. Dosing will depend on your pet’s age, weight, and what medications he’s taking. I recommend giving it once a day for seven days following any flea, tick or heartworm application.
The second product I recommend is chlorella, a super green food that is fabulous for detoxification. Your vet can also advise you about dose.
By using both of these products throughout the summer, you can improve your pet’s vitality and make her liver function more resilient in the months to come.