As most of you know, I have for years been sounding the warning siren about the slow poisoning of dogs from pesticides, co-called “preventatives” and other toxic chemicals. If your e-mails are any indication, many of you are listening. But many of you aren’t. Veterinary waiting rooms continue to be filled with accidentally poisoned pets. Some of these pets don’t survive.
Okay, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 46% of dogs and 39% of cats dying of disease will die of cancer. Pesticides are proven to increase your dog’s (or cats) chance of getting cancer. A University of Pennsylvania vet school study showed topical insecticides (aka preventatives) “significantly increased” bladder cancer risk, especially in overweight dogs. Other studies have shown cancer risks from herbicides. Some products meant for pets can even increase the chance you and your children will become ill.
Snail, ant and rodent baits may also prove deadly, sometimes killing quickly, sometimes slowly. Don’t think it can’t happen to your pet. In the “poison free” yard of my favorite pet safety advocate (me!), both of my dogs were exposed to rat poison. I immediately induced vomiting, got advice from ASPCA‘s Poison Control Center, took them to the emergency room visit followed by weeks of Vitamin K supplementation yet my dog Jiggy’s liver enzymes rose off the charts. Now, nine months later, an incompetent exterminator has lost his job and Jiggy still shows impaired liver function. Jiggy’s vet bills top $3000 with no end in sight.
Even when we don’t realize it, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and other poisons assault our dogs’ bodies in countless ways:
- We purposefully apply insecticides to kill fleas and ticks. Surely, none of us would rub poison between our children’s shoulder blades, or bathe them in poisons, but when it comes to pets, we trustingly accept the “wisdom” of advertisers and flea-and-tick product vendors. You can check out your Flea and Tick products for safety at Green Paws. Don’t forget to check all the products your groomer or kennel owner uses, too, and have them send for a Green Paws Action Kit. And remember, even if a product is labeled “natural” or listed as “safe,” it may still be harmful to your pet’s long-term health. In 2008, ASPCA toxicologists reported more than 31,000 calls related to insecticides, often because of misuse of flea and tick products. If you use one of these products–particularly products from Hartz, Sergeant’s, Farnam, and Bayer–please read Pesticides in Pet Products: Why Your Dog or Cat May Be at Risk I hope you’ll also watch this CBS video sent to me by one of the people featured; she lost her dog Lincoln to flea and tick medication. Here are two related links from the Environmental Protection Agency: Increased Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Control Products for Pets and Listing of EPA-registered Spot-on Flea and Tick Products.
- We administer insecticides orally to kill heartworms, even when sustained cool temps make contracting heartworms all but impossible (according to the University of Pennsylvania and other experts). Yet, advertisers tell us to buy these products year round. It’s about money, honey.
- Pets unknowingly auto-apply pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins during walks with you. Even if your own yard is free of toxic chemicals, romps on golf courses, common areas and dog parks, with their unknown pesticide and herbicide products and treatment schedules, can prove deadly. Whatever gets on your pet’s feet is licked into their bodies, assaulting livers and increasing carcinogenic loads.
- Pets eat hidden pesticides in their food, especially corn-laden grocery store kibble. Corn deemed unfit for human consumption—sometimes because of excessive pesticide contamination—often ends up in pet food. Pet food expert Dr. Jean Hofve tells me there is no upper limit for pesticide contamination.
- Pets get into rodent, ant and snail poison even when you are careful. Some of these products (like rat poison) cause a slow death by internal bleeding and you may not recognize symptoms until it’s too late. Just a tiny amount of some products (like snail bait) can kill fast. (Read this to learn about snail bait poisoning.) My dogs’ poisoning came in an usual way: from rat bait locked inside a safe-looking bait box; a raccoon trying to get at the bait banged the box on the ground and my dogs found the scattered bait. Note: it’s not enough to use safe products in your yard. Ask your neighbors to as well.)
- Pets (and hunting birds, coyotes, etc.) eat poisoned animals (rats, groundhogs, etc.) and are poisoned themselves. This happens more than you might suspect.
So here’s what to do to keep your pet safe from poison. First, check all products for child safety. If they’re not safe for kids, they’re not safe for dogs and cats. Second, wash your pet’s feet after walking on any suspect area. At least, wipe paws with a damp cloth. Clean paws, too, after walks on grimy chemically-laden streets and salted roads. If you wouldn’t lick a surface, don’t let your animal lick the grime off his paws. It just takes but a moment to wash up, and could save you countless tears, wasted days and thousands of dollars at the vet’s office.
Find a wealth of additional information in an article called Pesticides and Pets. I hope you’ll print it and read it. No, don’t just read it. Study it.
Finally, those of you who have my book, Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care, please reread the chapter “Stop Pest-ering Me” to learn natural ways to protect your dogs from pests. If your pet has been exposed to any poison, immediately contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.
You can also find the links mentioned here on my Links page. Want to know the truth about Heartworms? Click my heartworm link to find 3 in-depth articles. And please bookmark this blog post so others can find it. And here’s another article from my friends Drs. Kim Bloomer and Jeannie Thomason: Battling Fleas, Ticks, & Mosquitoes: Pet Health Care or Billion Dollar Pet Industry?
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