Why Pets Matter to Your Health
Pets and your health—it’s a good news-bad news story. The good news is that scientific studies prove pets provide measurable physical and emotional health benefits. Pets comfort us and provide connections with others in our neighborhoods who love animals. A good relationship with a pet lowers our stress level and our blood pressure.
The bad news is that pets, especially free roaming or exotic pets, can bring disease into our home. Many pet families grab the “most effective” cleaning products for eliminating germs, grease, and odor. The problem is that many cleaning solutions are not healthy either for human or pet family members. The best way to break the cycle of pets, dirt, germs, and cleaning agents is with knowledge.
Keeping Your Pet-Filled Home Healthy
Use a lot of soap and water. Use small amounts of vinegar, ammonia, baking soda, or borax if you need to boost your cleaning power, but keep those substances in a high locked cabinet. Alternatively, use commercial products that are mild. If you prefer to use gloves while handling, make sure no residue of the cleaner remains for your pet to ingest. And store that cleaner in the locked cabinet.
For your health, the best prevention is washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. The best prevention for your pet is to limit his access to things that can harm him.
Removing Household Toxins
Keeping your home (and your pet) toxin free is a continuous process. Pets, like toddlers, play on floor, lick the ground as well as their paws and anything else in the household. Common household toxins include cleaning products, houseplants, moth repellants, and air fresheners. In addition, wall paints and fire retardant coatings on furniture release toxic particles into the air. Fumes from self-cleaning ovens and smoking non-stick pans are deadly to birds. Remember that your cat will lie on the flame retardant sofa, groom, (ingesting trace amounts of toxic chemical off the, and eat your houseplants while your dog licks the floor, opens the kitchen cabinet, and chews open the bottle of cleanser.
Consider your pets perennial two year olds—mobile, and without self-control or the knowledge of what will hurt them.
Preventing Flea and Tick Problems
Fleas and ticks are a concern to the sustainable homeowner, not only because they can transmit disease to your pet, but also because the products used to control them can be harmful. Non-toxic prevention includes grooming pets with a flea comb and inspecting for ticks every day or two. Remember to wash your pet’s bedding frequently. If your vet recommends a flea and tick preventative, ask for one without organophosphate insecticides or carbamates that can cause problems for children and pets, particularly cats.