The word detoxification has become quite a buzz word in holistic health circles, both for people and pets. Why is it so important to assist the body in the detoxification process? The reason is that we live in an increasingly toxic world, that is becoming more so all the time, and at an alarming rate. It is impossible to completely avoid toxic exposure so the next best approach is to support the body’s innate processes to eliminate unwanted elements.
The most important place to start is with diet. This incorporates both avoiding toxic foods and using proper nutrition to support the natural detoxification process in the body. Herbicides and pesticides are used extensively in our food supply; even foods that are grown organically can be cross-contaminated from crops that are sprayed with chemicals such as glyphosate. In fact, its use has become so rampant that glyphosate has even been tested in the rainwater of certain areas. Constant vigilance is necessary to ensure the purity of your pet’s food sources.
Because dogs and cats are carnivores, they eat foods sourced from other animals. It is therefore very important to investigate where your pet’s food comes from. What an animal eats and how it is raised has a dramatic effect on the nutritional components of the end product. If an animal’s feed is sprayed with chemicals, then that becomes part of the food that you feed your pet. Many animals raised for food are fed diets that are solely designed to cause weight gain, but this can actually make them sick, causing the food produced to be nutritionally imbalanced. For example, cattle raised on grass, which is their natural food, have a healthy balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. In contrast, cattle raised or finished on grain have a much higher omega 6 fraction which leads to inflammation when eaten. Stress will also change the nutritional content of the meat, so animals raised unethically in confinement operations will not produce a healthy end product.
In pet foods, even those that start with healthy ingredients can become toxic due to over processing. This is the case with all kibble-type diets. Processing at high temperatures or pressures not only destroys vital nutrients, but can denature some proteins and fats causing them to become toxic. Even some raw food products now use high pressure pasteurization which destroys nutrients in the food. Regulation in the pet food industry is lax at best, and nutritional standards are so weak that a fully inadequate and toxic diet will meet current standards. The best recourse is to vote with your dollar and favor companies that produce well-sourced, minimally processed products. This inquiry must be ongoing as companies frequently change their standards due to industry pressure. Always read the label of what you are giving your pet, even if it is a product you have used before.
Now let’s talk water. Many toxins and pharmaceutical drugs have been found in municipal water supplies. The water is also treated with chlorine and fluoride, both of which are toxic. The ideal water source is a natural spring, which also contains important minerals from the earth. This is not a readily available in many areas, so a home filtration system is the next best option. Reverse osmosis is the most complete type of filtration, but it will also remove minerals so these need to be added back in. Toxins can also be absorbed through the skin, so also consider the water you use to bathe your pet. Water from an outside spicket is just as toxic unless you have a private well.
Ok, we have covered what your pet eats and drinks, but what about the dishes and utensils you are using? Plastics contain many toxic chemicals, many of which are hormone disruptors that affect the function of the endocrine system. Hormonal regulation is very important to the health of the body, and requires a delicate balance. Once disrupted, the system can play havoc with the entire body. There is no such thing as a ‘safe’ plastic either. BPA has been incriminated as toxic and many plastics are now labelled ‘BPA-free’ but this is only one chemical and most plastics contain others that are just as toxic. To prevent exposure, use stainless steel, or ceramic that has been stained or glazed with non-toxic products.
Does your pet have toys? The plastics used to make toys are also toxic, so favor natural materials. Chew treats that are animal products must follow the same standards mentioned above for choosing food products. How about bedding? Many fabrics and stuffings are sprayed with chemicals such as flame retardants and anti-bacterials. Your pet comes in direct contact with bedding, not to mention breathing in the fumes. You will pay more for natural fabrics, but the cost is nothing compared to the financial and emotional cost of treating a disease such as cancer.
Inside your home, carpeting and other flooring, furniture, draperies, certain paints and drywall contain toxic chemicals. Now, granted, you may not be able to change all of these things right away, but at least consider changing to less toxic options over time.
So far, we have been talking about the toxins present in physical materials. What about some toxins that you can’t see? Our culture has become addicted to electronic devices, all of which emit EMF’s, or electromagnetic frequencies that disrupt the health of cells in many parts of the body. Under the microscope, very dramatic and rapid changes can be seen in red blood cells exposed to EMF. Constant exposure from cell phones and towers, computers, routers, florescent lighting and smart meters can be devastating to your pet’s health and the risk continues to grow as we become more dependent on our electronic devices.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce your pet’s EMF exposure:
- Distance matters. Keep your cell phone and computer away from you and your pet’s body.
- Power down. Your modem power can be adjusted down to emit less EMF. Better yet, turn it off completely when not in use, especially at night when you are sleeping. This is a valuable time for your body to regenerate and repair and it is imperative that EMF does not interfere with this process.
- If possible, put your cellphone in airplane mode while driving in your car. The phone emits more EMF as it searches for signal.
- Spend time outside contacting the earth directly or consider an earthing sheet or mat.
In Part 2, we will discuss some more specifics on how to design a detoxification program for your pet.