In this day and age, with germ warfare at an all-time high, it seems every day there is a new cleaning product on the market. One will get rid of grease faster than the next, while another will sanitize your floors, walls, and air so everything is safe to touch and breathe.
In theory, this is a great thing that is supposed to make the world a healthier place. However, in practice, most of the current cleaners on the shelves are even more toxic than the hazards they are trying to destroy.
Your dog is especially at risk of coming in contact with these toxins around the house. For example, it is not likely that you will lick the bottoms of your feet, but there is a good chance that your dog will lick his. Any chemicals used directly on the floor or that land on the floor as a result of being sprayed will end up in your dog’s internal system.
Toxins to avoid
Commercially produced cleaners are certainly the most convenient but have the highest percentage of toxins. Here is some information to keep in mind when selecting a commercial cleaner.
Paradichlorobenzene is a common ingredient in moth repellents and is a key ingredient in many air fresheners. This chemical is known to cause cancer in animals.
Perchloroethylene is used in dry cleaning, and studies have shown that it causes cancer in animals. If you get your clothes back from the dry cleaner and there is any odour, simply remove them from the plastic bag and air them outside until the odour disappears. Do not put the dry cleaning in the closet right away in the plastic bag, as you and your dog will breathe in these toxic vapours.
Phenol and cresol are both toxic compounds found mostly in products used to disinfect, deodorize, and sanitize. Pets can be particularly sensitive to phenol compounds and can become very ill with any exposure.
Always read ingredients lists, and keep an eye out for essential oils and ingredients that you recognize. Keep in mind that the term “natural” is not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration or any other administrative body and is often used to market products.
It doesn’t take much to clean most areas of your home unless it is very dirty, so you should not have to succumb to using toxic chemicals in most cases.
No matter what types of cleaners you use, it is important to keep them stored in a safe and effective way, so they remain out of reach of children and pets. Keep them in locked cabinets, preferably ones not located at ground level. Utility rooms where there is ventilation and where substances are out of reach of small hands, paws, and long, pink tongues are ideal. If you do not have a separate space, though, you can store these items in galvanized metal containers, with holes punched in the sides for ventilation, or in mesh baskets that zip closed or have lids to secure them. Most cleaners should be kept in spray bottles or glass jars with tight-sealing caps.
Checklist for a clean, dog-loving home
- Use doormats at all entryways to help remove dirt and debris from your shoes and your dog’s pads.
- Keep entryways swept or hosed off to minimize the tracking in of outside dirt.
- Remove or clean shoes upon entering the house.
- Keep a basket of towels by all entrances to wipe your dog’s feet as he enters the house, especially if he has been running through muddy or wet areas.
- Vacuum often, preferably with a vacuum cleaner that is fitted with a HEPA filter system. (High efficiency particulate arrestance filters capture 99.97 percent of particles 0.3 microns and larger.)
- Brush and bathe your dog regularly.
- Keep your dog’s food and water dishes clean at all times.
- Refresh your dog’s water several times a day. Use filtered or bottled water.
- Eliminate carpeting where possible. Carpets hold dirt, flea larvae and fleas, and mold. Synthetic carpets can off-gas (release chemical fumes), creating a toxic environment for you and your pet.
- Reduce your dependence on potentially toxic cleaners by switching to homemade cleansers when possible.
- Keep your house well ventilated to reduce indoor air pollution. Air filters are useful throughout the house.