My dogs want to eat everything that isn’t nailed down, as well as some things that are. This tendency can be frustrating; why do they always go after my shoes and not my husband’s? It can also be amusing, like the time my mother thought the toy she bought them would last more than a day. They seemed to take that as a direct challenge. But ultimately, your dog’s chewing tendencies can be dangerous. Every time he puts something in his mouth he’s exposed to chemicals, many of which may be toxic.
Just how serious is it? Consider this: Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over 10 years old. In fact, they have higher rates than humans for several types of cancer, such as skin, bone, breast tumors and leukemia. This may be linked to exposure to toxic chemicals over time. A recent study by the Environmental Working Group found that dogs were polluted with 2.4 times more chemical contaminants than people.
The non-profit research and advocacy organization began their study when non-stick chemicals from a frying pan killed a bird named Feathers. His canine buddy Eddie and feline friend Cleo also wanted to know what chemicals they were being exposed to. The scientists at EWG found that our animal friends had higher levels than humans for 43 different chemicals. They looked for the classes of chemicals that have been associated with cancer, reproductive and developmental risks, birth defects and thyroid problems in humans.
So, what can you do? Here are a few things to get you started.
Give your dog organic food.
Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to the pesticides and chemicals that are used on food, so go organic. There are many inexpensive options out there, or you can cook for your dog yourself. It’s easier than you think.
Choose organic chew toys.
When you go to the pet store, you have a wide array of toys to choose from, boasting benefits from dental care to mental stimulation. Put aside the marketing for a moment and look at what’s inside the toys. You don’t want your dog to be ingesting chemicals. Find toys that are made from organic materials and colored naturally.
Learn the signs of cancer.
Get your dog treatment early to increase his/her chances of survival. The American Veterinary Medical Association lists ten common signs for cancer in small animals:
- Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
- Sores that do not heal
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
- Offensive odor
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
- Persistent lameness or stiffness
- Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
Know where they are being exposed.
In your home and your own backyard, your dog is likely being exposed to a host of chemicals, from the pesticides used on your lawn to the flea collar around his neck. Some places where chemicals are hiding may surprise you. Educate yourself. I’ll be covering common places where your dog is exposed to chemicals in articles to come.
Photo Credit: pink_fish13