Your pet relies on you to keep them safe. In return they love you unconditionally. And having a clean, healthy home environment is part of this agreement. But using traditional chemical-laden household cleaners may be harming your pet’s health.
Only by switching to pet Safe cleaning products will you keep your home safe and clinically clean for your pet and family.
In this article, we share intel on not only how chemicals enter your pet’s body, and which chemicals are harmful and why, but also the tell-tale signs your pet may be poisoned and what to do in an emergency. Pet-friendly alternatives are also listed to standard household chemical cleaners.
How Chemicals Enter Your Pet’s Body
Most chemicals that invade your pet’s system are inhaled from the harmful vapours (V.O.C’s) and toxic and carcinogenic airborne droplets and mists released by sprayed cleaning solutions. And it’s not just cleansing sprays and artificial air fresheners that pose a danger. Dogs and cats who can’t resist a drink from the toilet might get more than they bargain for. Instead of refreshing clean water, they could get a poisonous cocktail of slow-release or residual cleaning products.
They also use their feet to groom and scratch themselves, often licking their paws in the process. Harmful chemicals from wet floors, or from cleaners that leave toxic residues are ingested or come into contact with your pet’s skin. From here, they make their way into the blood stream, organs and tissues throughout the body.
Why Toxins Are Worse for Your Pets Than You
As you probably know, many of the chemicals in traditional cleaning products have been linked to serious health problems in humans. Which means they can have the same impact on your pet. Or worse.
Because your furry (or feathery) friend is much smaller than you, they breathe faster and chemicals enter their body more quickly. Some toxins, like chlorine, hang heavier in the air and lurk in low-lying areas where pets tend to live. Because of their comparatively small size, exposure to the toxins in our homes places a greater burden on their body. This chemical load can be too much for a small liver.
Animals also detoxify differently to humans. While we can eliminate certain harmful chemicals from our bodies, our pets can’t always do the same, another reason to source ‘pet safe cleaning products’. Over time, your companion’s body may struggle to cope with the number of toxins present and this can lead to chronic health issues.
How Can You Tell What’s in Your Cleaning Products?
Look at any of the household cleaners in your cupboards and you’ll find it’s difficult to identify what’s in them. Labels often list only some of the ingredients and comments such as ‘contains amongst other ingredients’ seem designed to hinder rather than help you understand the contents. Although the EU forces all manufacturers to provide full product details at www.detergentinfo.com, you’ll need a Chemistry degree to decipher what you find.
Which Chemicals are Harmful to Your Pet?
This common household chemical list gives you an idea of some of the most prevalent ingredients in your household cleaners and the effects they can have on both humans and pets.
Commonly used in disinfectants, toilet cleaners and dishwasher detergent, chlorine can cause dizziness, vomiting and breathing difficulties.
Found in many cleaning products including glass and carpet cleaner. It’s linked to lung and kidney damage and anaemia in people and pets.
Used in soaps and some pet shampoos, this chemical can contribute to asthma and is also known to be carcinogenic. Formaldehyde is often present in pet bedding, household furniture and furnishings particularly when new and unwashed.
Although they may smell sweet, perfumes are complex chemical mixtures ranked in the top five of global contaminants. Not only do the chemicals in these products cause respiratory problems, headaches and dizziness but they have been linked to heart arrhythmia. As our pets tend to have more sensitive noses, it’s likely that they are more sensitive to perfumes than we are. Birds in particular suffer from artificial fragrances and sprays because of their extremely sensitive respiratory systems. Because they are so tiny, they can die within minutes of inhaling something toxic.
Often used in aerosol sprays, disinfectants and cleansers in particular de-greasing products for ovens, glass and stainless steel. Highly caustic, ammonia contains a high concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches and loss of co-ordination in humans plus lots of other nasty symptoms. They are also known to cause cancer in pets.
Linked to almost every major public health scare over the last two decades, phthalates are particularly dangerous for pregnant women and young children. This huge chemical class has not yet been fully studied. Of those that have, fourteen are known to be dangerous. Despite this, phthalates continue to be included in our cleaning products. What’s more worrying is that companies aren’t required to list them on their labels.
We drink alcohol and, apart from a hangover, it’s pretty innocuous, right? Well, not all alcohols are made equal. Isopropyl is promoted as a mild antiseptic and disinfectant cleaner. But, to make the substance, it uses propene which comes from fossil fuels. Not only does this damage the earth but the vapours cause mild neurological issues through to coma for those with a severe reaction. Not something you would choose to expose your pet to.
Tell-Tale Signs Your Pet is Reacting to Chemicals
If your pet has been affected by toxins, their symptoms will present either as low grade irritation or severe reaction. By knowing what to look for, you’ll be best placed to act quickly and get your pet to the vet.
Low grade irritation
Signs like these can indicate low grade inflammation in your pet:
- Face rubbing
- Excessive grooming
- Eye and nose discharge
- Heavy breathing
These reactions are usually caused by cleaners such as window and surface sprays. For any ongoing indicators like these, take you pet to the vet. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your vet may need to prescribe treatment, possibly in the form of a steroid. Removing toxins from your home could reduce or remove your pet’s symptoms and save money on repeat prescriptions and vet trips.
More caustic cleaning products can cause major reactions. Generally, those labelled with the word ‘DANGER’ mean the product is corrosive and can cause severe injury to your pet (and anyone else in the household). Products such as oven cleaners, rust and lime removing agents and certain toilet bowl cleaners are the most common culprits.
Accidental exposure to these chemicals requires immediate action. The signs are:
- Blistered, red or raw skin
- Pawing at the mouth or eyes
- Severe drooling
- Avoiding food
- Lethargy or general malaise
If you have a pet poisoning emergency, follow the RSPCA’s guidance:
- Stay calm and remove your pet from the source of the poison.
- Contact your vet immediately to let them know how and when the poisoning occurred. Keep the packaging to take to the vets with you. Handle carefully to avoid hurting yourself.
- Follow the vet’s advice immediately.
- Do not medicate your pet – wait for the vet to do this.
- If the fur or skin is contaminated, wash with a mild shampoo and water, rinse well and dry.
- Keep your pet away from other animals and children to avoid contamination.
- Do not attempt to make cats, dogs or ferrets vomit or use salt water as this is extremely dangerous for them.
Never watch and wait – untreated, your beloved pet may end up with severe internal or external tissue damage or worse.
Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe
There are a number of precautions you can take to reduce the risks from household cleaning products.
- Use non-carcinogenic and Pet Safe products to clean
- Reduce your use of perfumes.
- Clean the source of any smells rather than covering them up.
- Use allergen free perfumed products
- To keep you house smelling fresh use essential oils instead.
- At Christmas, boil cinnamon and cloves in water on the stove for a natural, warming scent.
- If you decide to keep toxic cleaners, make certain they are put away
- Put child safety locks on cabinet doors and put cleaners up as high as possible
- Never use chemical cleaners when your pet is in the same room and never leave any residue behind
- Use pet safe cleaning products to clean litter trays, aquariums and cages
- Only allow pets back in once surfaces have completely dried to prevent them from ingesting chemicals
- Air out the house after cleaning
While these tips are helpful, putting cleaners away doesn’t stop vapours from escaping. They seep out of the bottle and leach into your house and harm your pet. The only way to remove harmful chemicals from your home is replace them with a safe alternative.
Affordable, pet safe cleaning products
Safe cleaning products for pets can be as effective as the products you currently buy. Eco.3 provides a range of Eco-Responsible cleaners that are safe for pets.
Because our products don’t cause allergic reactions or illness, even zoos use them to cleanse their cages and enclosures. And Eco-Responsible doesn’t mean less effective. Our food-safe products reduced the time it took one zoo to clean the feeding bowls from four hours to five minutes.
You can be sure our planet is safe too, because our products have been awarded Eco-Responsible Certification for their positive environmental impact.
Discover more about Eco.3. Join the growing number of people in our premier club who want clean homes and pet friendly cleaning products that don’t cost the earth.