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Golden Retriever with Girl in Grass Field
Wed, October 1, 2014
Going Green for the Dogs
I have been grooming and massaging dogs for six years now after leaving a Stationary Engineer career to practice my soul mission. That last twenty plus years as an engineer went so fast. I didn't want to spend the next twenty withering away in a mechanical room, regretting that I never did what I truly loved. Dogs have brought so much to my life in the way of healing and learning that I wanted to give back. 
In my own life, I have long been a conscious consumer choosing organic foods and skin care.  I have been an organic gardener since I was six thanks to my grandparents' leadership. I became more conscious in my choices for my body and  environment once I learned about the many food and product additives as well the applications of pesticides and herbicides to crops  The body’s response to these items can include both short and long term effects. Eye and skin irritation, organ toxicity, developmental or reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, possible mutations, and even cancer are all possibilities.

Sometimes we don't see the direct effects of these toxins but they can be passed on to the next generation. Dogs are really no different than us on a molecular level. We are all living beings on this planet - carbon based beings with DNA.  How does our environment affect our pets? We are, aren't they?
Yes, they are, in some ways even more so because they don't have any protection from the environment other than their fur. Some owners do put jackets, sweaters, or boots on them during inclement weather.  But, when was the last time you saw a dog wearing a protective dust mask? 
A dog’s paw pads are free to absorb anything with which they come into contact since they work like sponges. Their paw pads are also where they relieve the majority of heat from their bodies. It's a two-way system. When we walk them in the city their paws touch many petrochemicals from oil slicks to pesticides and herbicides. They absorb these directly into their bloodstream through the paw pads.
If your dog (or cat) has sudden onset vomiting, drooling, severe bloating, diarrhea, dilated eyes, dizziness, or weakness I would be concerned they are either ill or perhaps have ingested something toxic orally or through the paw pad. Call the veterinarian! Initially putting a pet’s paws in fresh water might help if the toxin has entered from there. 
To be safe, always remember to read ALL instructions on lawn and garden products.  Know how long these products stay active and if they reactivate with water. This will help you know whether it’s safe for your dogs to walk or relieve themselves in those areas.
Another preventative measure is to sweep any applied granules from sidewalks. These granules, road salt, and other ice melting products can range from harmful to toxic to your dog. Your dog needs to get outdoors but do be mindful of his/her pads.
Do you hire someone to take care of your lawn needs? Don't be afraid to ask about their products. You can request a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on anything they apply onto your lawn. Also, don’t be afraid to say no. Some yard service technicians may not understand your concern for your pet’s health and well-being and may try to downplay the impact of those products. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit or you aren’t sure, it may just not be the right fit for you and your dog.
I do not use any harmful chemicals on my lawn or garden, this keeps my space organic, or green as we say these days. A vinegar and water foot wash of one half cup of vinegar to one gallon of water is an excellent 30 second foot soak for dogs that can help detoxify their feet when returning from a city walk especially if they have itchy feet. It’s so important to remember that your dog not only absorbs through his/her paws but also from licking those paws throughout the day.
My first two years in business I used a 'natural' dog shampoo.  It did not have SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) but the ingredients were not organic. Over time I discovered a much better fit for my needs with a company whose dog shampoos and other products are organically certified. These organic shampoos don't have artificial or toxic additives, and in addition, the ingredients (such as base oils) are grown sustainably without any pesticides or herbicides.
Why would I be interested whether these shampoos had SLS? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is considered to be a “denaturant, surfactant cleaning agent, emulsifier and foamer” and is rated as a 'moderate hazard' by the EWG Cosmetic Database (Environmental Working Group)1.  SLS can be further contaminated by two other toxins: ethylene oxide and 1,4 Dioxane in its processing. SLS is used in many thousands of products we use daily from shampoos (dog and human) to industrial cleaners. It is very corrosive and mainly used in foaming products we use in our daily lives. 
Most toxic ingredients are not organic; our bodies and our dogs’ bodies do not recognize them. They can be more dangerous on our skin or paw pads because they are then absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Healthy, non-overworked livers can often filter out toxins that are ingested orally. SLS is just one of the more common substances among many unhealthy ingredients found in some of the products that are sold for regular use in our households.
We are beginning to understand how our bodies absorb toxins and the path that leads to toxic buildup within our immune systems. We have a limit of toxicity before our bodies start to show symptoms of ill health, our once healthy and normally functioning immune systems now becoming overworked and unable to detoxify our bodies as once possible. We can see now, how our dogs are even more subject to absorbing toxins directly into their body systems.
Using organic shampoos on dogs is not only good for the dog but it is good for me, the groomer. I, too, absorb chemicals into my body while bathing the dogs. I also have a nose like a dog. Truly it is not easy having a sensitive smeller. The organic shampoos I use have a nice clean smell that lasts and don't have added synthetic scents or perfumes. Dogs don't like those either. 
Just as we must pay closer attention to the chemicals and products we use for actually caring for our furry friends, it’s important to keep a clean environment. In my grooming environment, I use organic cleaners but also a disinfectant for tools and working areas to prevent virus or bacteria from finding a place to regenerate. These areas are either rinsed and dried or dried with time for the active ingredients to dissipate. 
Last but not least, organic is good for the planet. When I think of the myriad of things dumped into our drains (household and industrial) that go through our sewers, watersheds and subsequently to the natural waterways, I am sad for Mother Earth and her occupants. Everything is cyclical here on our blue planet. The Earth gives. We take and we give back, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not so much. Our dogs want us to be more conscious, their paws tell us so.


1.) Environmental Working Group Cosmetics Database

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