is now the primary cause of death in dogs over two years of age.
YES, Pet Parents like you
CAN control lifestyle
and limit toxic exposures!
Conventional medicine teaches cancer is a genetic condition
Yet new and emerging research cites only 5% of cancers are genetic in origin!
The remaining 95% are metabolic in nature and arise from lifestyle factors and repeated exposure to environmental toxins.
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- Dog food is so confusing! How do I know if I’m feeding my pet what he needs?
- Are there natural things I can do at home to help keep my dog healthy?
- I worry about the toxicity of products in my home and even those sold for pets!
- How can I know what’s safe to use?
- How do I talk to my vet when I feel unsure about her recommendations?
u·biq·ui·tous – appearing, or found everywhere
In the United States, cancer is now the primary cause of death in dogs over two years of age. Sadly, it seems cancer is becoming a ubiquitous diagnosis. Nothing strikes fear in the heart of loving pet parents like a cancer diagnosis. What’s worse, it can go undiagnosed growing silently and invisibly inside the body. In fact, “The truth about Pet Cancer” Mini-Series documentary, released in October 2017 cited the following:
Why is this happening?
What Regulation? At least in the United States, you will probably be shocked and upset to learn that there is no regulation at all of the thousands of chemicals used in everyday household items. Take a look at this list. It’s the things we come into contact with every day in our homes. So what does that mean? Essentially anything that isn’t food (at least in the USA) is not regulated for safety. It means, there is no oversight and consequently, little if any published research as to how harmful any of these compounds might be. We’re part of a grand experiment, and in many ways, both pet parents and furry family members are the guinea pigs. The good news is there is plenty of credible research available about toxins in products we use every single day. The bad news – we are saturated with sophisticated marketing messages that either convince us to use products despite the risks or leave us feeling confused and overwhelmed.
Hidden in Plain Sight
- Cleaning Products
- Personal Care Products
- Herbicides and Pesticides
- Furniture and Fabrics
It’s undeniable – we live in a toxic world
Our pets have to live in our environment, it’s not their choice!
Pets, who share their environment with humans are exposed to a frightening amount of human-produced toxic substances. They drink contaminated tap water, eat factory-produced food that frequently offers questionable nutritional value, and they walk and lay on a variety of home and garden surfaces that can transmit herbicides, pesticides, and flame retardant chemicals just to name a few. Read the full EWG Report, “Polluted Pets”
Let’s start with a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on human babies (at birth) which demonstrated a shocking 287 chemicals detected in cord umbilical cord blood. Of those 287 chemicals we know that:
- 180 are known carcinogens in animals and/or humans
- 217 are known to be toxic to the brain and nervous system
- 208 are known to cause birth defects and/or abnormal development in animal studies
The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins has never been studied. If anything, our pets are likely to carry a heavier toxic load than we do because there’s even less regulation or care for the consequences of toxicity from everyday products for our pets than for humans.
How do toxins get into our pets (Hiding places)
There are four main pathways for toxins to get into our pets. First, they can be absorbed through the skin and or mucous membranes of the mouth and nose. Secondly, they can be ingested. Airborne toxins can be absorbed through inhalation and finally, toxins can be injected into the body, typically in the form of vaccines.
Let’s take a look at each of these pathways in a little more detail.
First Pathway – Absorbed
Just like humans, your pet’s skin is the largest organ of their body and is the primary route for absorbing toxins. Any chemicals that come in contact with the skin are absorbed into the body. The list of sources for absorbed toxins is almost limitless, but consider the following as the most common. Sources of absorbed toxins include:
- Household cleaning products
- Lawn and garden products
- Spot-on flea and tick treatments
Second Pathway – Ingestion
The second main pathway for toxins to get into your pet is by ingestion. Dogs, in particular, explore their world with their mouths…so whatever goes into their mouths also serves as a vehicle for toxins to ride along. Again, this list is incomplete, but the most common sources of ingested toxins includes
- Lawn and garden products
- Oral flea, tick and heartworm medications
Third Pathway – Inhalation
The third pathway for toxins to get into your pet is by inhalation. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gaseous toxins that are absorbed into the body through inhalation. Certain plastics, paints and other very common household products outgas volatile organic compounds that can be extremely toxic. This list can be extremely long and includes products in all the categories listed below.
- Cleaning products
- Air fresheners
- Air cleaning sprays
- Laundry detergents
- Shampoo and conditioners
- Car fresheners
Fourth Pathway – Injection
The final pathway for toxins to get into your pet is by injection. Vaccines are a primary source of both mercury and aluminum. Both mercury and aluminum are neurotoxins and easily pass through the blood/brain barrier.
What is a toxin?
In it’s simplest form, a toxin is a substance that causes harm. Toxins can be man-made as in the form of chemicals or pharmaceutical drugs. But, they can also be the natural venom of plants or animals (as in snake venom). Even natural biological processes in the body produce toxins.
- In it’s simplest form, a toxin is a substance that causes harm.
- Toxins can be man-made as in the form of chemicals or pharmaceuticals
- They can be natural venom of plants or animals
- Even natural processes in the body produce toxins
Where do toxins come from? Toxins can come from the internal environment as a result of natural metabolic processes. For example, the breakdown of protein in the body produces ammonia and urea. The body has built-in mechanisms to manage detoxification from internal sources. So, its the external environment that poses the biggest risk. All life is dependent on our ability to breathe air, drink water and eat food. There is no comprehensive list of chemical toxins, but suffice it to say the list is extensive and includes substances from all the categories listed below. Individually, each of these classes of toxins can result in biological damage. When combined, however, the impact can be exponentially worse. Heavy metals, for example, have cumulative effects. Both mercury and aluminum are core ingredients in many vaccines and are known to have deleterious effects on the nervous system.
External sources of toxins
- Heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and aluminum
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Food additives
- Pharmaceutical drugs
Health Implications of Prolonged Exposure to Toxic Substances – Heavy Metals
Mercury is the second most toxic substance on the planet (plutonium is number one and is most commonly introduced to the body when inhaled after a nuclear disaster). There is no safe level of mercury. Mercury accumulates in the body over time as a result of chronic mercury exposure in the air, water, and food supply.
Heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and aluminum:
- Cross the blood/brain barrier
- Accumulate over time with repeated exposure
- Are Neurotoxic meaning they damage nerve cells
- Carcinogenic meaning they are known to cause cancer
Affects the Endocrine System
Heavy metals, and mercury, in particular, are extremely toxic to the endocrine system, which is comprised of the thyroid, the adrenals, and the pineal gland. Thyroid issues can often be traced back to heavy metal exposure. Mercury destroys key enzymes required by the thyroid which can result in hypothyroidism and/or autoimmune disease.
Impacts Detoxification Organs
Mercury also ruins our detoxication pathways, especially in the liver. The liver is one of the body’s primary organs for detoxification with the kidneys being the other.
Damages the Immune System
Mercury exposure has a very deleterious effect on the immune system.
Health Implications of Prolonged Exposure to Toxic Substances – Plastics (BPA)
What is BPA
According to the Environmental Working Group: Bisphenol A, or BPA is an industrial chemical used to make two common synthetic products- Polycarbonate and Epoxy resins. Polycarbonate is a clear, rigid, shatter-resistant plastic found in a wide variety of consumer products, inducing food and beverage containers. Epoxy resins are used in industrial adhesives and high-performance coatings. epoxy coating lines most of the 131 billion food and beverage cans produced every year in the United States. BPA is also widely found in consumer electronics (including DVDs and CDs), sports equipment, medical and dental devices, eyeglass lenses, dental sealants, dental fillings and thermal paper, including store receipts and plastic water pipes.
What are the health risks?
According to Medical News Today, BPA is a synthetic estrogen that interferes with the production, secretion, transport, function and elimination of natural hormones. Even in small amounts, it can disrupt the endocrine system and has been linked to a wide variety of ills including infertility, breast and reproductive system cancer, obesity diabetes, early puberty, behavioral changes in children and resistance to chemotherapy treatments. According to Dr. Karen Becker, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri and published in the journal Science of the Total Environment concludes that even short-term feeding of canned dog food results in a significant increase of BPA (Bisphenol A) in dogs.1 The following countries have declared BPA toxic and have banned its use from all packaging and containers in the best case, or at least from baby food packaging and bottles.
The US is less stringent, banning the use of BPA only in baby bottles, children’s cups and packages of infant formula.
Health Implications of Prolonged Exposure to Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fungicides
In 2016 the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center received 180,639 cases of pet poisoning. Of the top ten most commonly “ingested” poisons, insecticides ranked #7, followed by rodenticides (accounting for 5.5% of cases) and lawn and garden products including, herbicides and fungicides ranked #10 (2.6% of cases). While these statistics are alarming, this accounts for only the known incidences of “ingested” poisoning. To date, no data exists to estimate the total number of exposures (absorbed, inhaled, ingested and injected), let along the bio-accumulative effect of repeated contacts. Companion animals are much more vulnerable to chemical exposures in products like these for several reasons. First, dogs explore their surroundings with their feet, mouth, and nose. They unknowingly walk through chemically-treated areas, collecting particles in their fur and easily absorbing a cocktail of chemicals through the mucous membranes of their mouth, and nose. Dogs are notorious for chewing and even eating plant material, unfortunately, they cannot discriminate whether plants have been treated with chemicals. In general, cats will absorb more chemical residues due to their grooming habits. But, some dogs are keen on licking themselves too. Paw licking is a common habit among dogs and provides for direct ingestion and/or absorption of chemicals through the mouth and mucous membranes.
Secondary Poisoning occurs when dogs and cats catch and eat poisoned prey. Both dogs and cats eat a variety of prey animals in the wild, including but not limited to rodents, insects, mollusks, and birds. Many of those species are considered “pests” and efforts are often made to eliminate them with the use of chemicals. Ingestion of rat poison is one of the most commonly reported incidents to the pet poison helpline. In fact, they report dozens of calls every day for ingestion of common mouse and rat poisons. However, eating the poison directly isn’t the only concern. In addition to eating the rodent, the dog/cat also absorbs any poison the rodent has eaten. As poisoned rodents become weakened by the effects of the rodenticide, they also become easier targets for companion animals to catch and consume. Most of these poisons bio-accumulate in the body over time, so immediate symptoms of secondary poisoning may not be apparent. Other seriously toxic, yet commonly used substances include snail and slug killers and gopher and mole baits, just to name a few.
Fleas and ticks
One of the most challenging decisions pet parents face is how to safely prevent and/or manage fleas and ticks. Not only are fleas and ticks disgusting, we all know they can transmit serious disease and parasites to both pets and people. While manufacturers of these products would have us believe they are harmless, a significant amount of evidence suggests that may not be the case. The Washington-based Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a nonprofit investigative news organization, and the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, have both published reports about the safety of prescription and over-the-counter flea and tick treatments. Some of the most popular “spot-on” products include Frontline, Advantage, Bio Spot Flea and several others. Fipronil is the active ingredient in Frontline. According to the Frontline website, consumers are led to believe that the product remains only in the oil glands of the skin. Laboratory tests, however, demonstrate that this toxin (intended to kill fleas and ticks), does indeed enter the body and organs systems. According to the EPA’s pesticide division, Fipronil remains in a pet’s system and has the potential to cause nervous system damage and thyroid toxicity. Imidacloprid is the active ingredient in Advantage. Inadacloprid is classified as a neurotoxin and has been found to increase cholesterol levels in dogs, along with thyroid lesions and toxicity in the liver. Pyrethrins represent the third class of toxins used in spot-on flea and tick treatments. These naturally occurring compounds from the chrysanthemum plant (and the synthetic version called pyrethroids) are generally thought to be harmless. While they are significantly less hazardous than other flea and tick products, data obtained from the Center for Public Integrity linked at least 1600 pet deaths related to pyrethrin based spot on treatments (nearly double the reported fatalities linked to flea treatments without pyrethroids). Studies of permethrins have been implicated as carcinogenic insecticides and neurotoxins. The pyrethroid spot-ons also accounted for more than half of the “major” pesticide pet reactions including brain damage, heart attacks, and seizures. Non-pyrethroid spot-on treatments accounted for about 6 % of all major incidents.
Oral flea and tick medications
Between 2013 and 2016, three new flea/tick preventive medications were released by the brand names: Nexgard, Bravecto and Simparica. The active ingredient in Nexgard is Afoxolaner, the active ingredient in Bravecto is Fluralaner, and the active ingredient in Simparica is sarolaner. These products are in the form of an oral chew which releases the drugs into the dog’s circulating blood. When a flea or tick bites the dog, it is exposed to the chemicals and dies. Like the spot-on treatments, all three of these products are classified as pesticides that work by attacking the nervous system of the pest. Since these products are relatively new, less data is available regarding safety and side effects. Nonetheless, the FDA does maintain an adverse events database. Dogs Naturally Magazine reported the following adverse events for Nexgard and Bravecto from January to March 2016. Read the actual reports from the FDA. Simparica is too new for similar reports to be made available.