Our pets are affected by everything we use, whether it’s the shampoo we use to bathe them or the products we use to clean and freshen our home. Even essential oils and other natural aromatherapy products can have an impact on our pets’ health. Cats are especially sensitive because anything that’s placed on their fur can be ingested as they groom themselves. Dogs also have sensitive skin and a heightened sense of smell, and even birds and other small pets can be sensitive to products and scents.
Certain everyday products can cause respiratory issues and skin irritation, and using the wrong type of grooming products on our pets can result in everything from minor irritation to rashes and burns. As pet guardians, it’s our responsibility to protect our pets from harm, and that includes being careful about the products we use on our pets as well as around the home.
Why Human Products Are Not Safe For Use on Pets
A dog named Violet almost died when her guardian used human hair coloring to dye her white fur purple. The dye caused chemical burns so severe that her skin was sloughing off and her eyes were swollen shut. The amount of pain and suffering she was subjected to is heartbreaking, but thankfully she received treatment and is making a successful recovery.
Not using human hair dye on pets seems like a given, but other products like human shampoo, soaps, lotions, and other items can also be harmful. The reason is that these products are formulated for our skin’s pH level, which is different than that of a cat or dog. Human hair and body products can strip your pet’s skin of its natural oils and disrupt its natural balance, which can lead to dry, itchy skin or rashes. This irritation and disruption of their skin’s pH can also lead to the growth of bacteria or parasites that lead to further irritation and imbalance.
It’s also important to never use human cosmetics, nail polish, or hair styling products on your pets. They serve no purpose and can be extremely toxic and irritating. Only use grooming products made specifically for pets and choose products with natural ingredients to reduce the risk of skin irritation.
Dangers of Toxic Household Products
Household products like bleach, carpet shampoos, and powders, detergents, toilet bowl cleaners, spray fabric fresheners, and kitchen and bathroom cleaners are loaded with toxins that are bad for people and the planet, as well as our pets. For our canine and feline friends, coming into contact with these products can cause skin irritation or minor respiratory irritation, and ingestion can result in gastrointestinal upset or worse.
Ditch the toxic household products for safer and more eco-friendly products that you can make at home using simple, natural ingredients. Always make sure surfaces have dried before your pets are allowed back into the room and keep household products out of reach of curious pets. Even though natural products are safer, they can some discomfort if ingested.
Essential Oils Should Be Used with Caution
Essential oils are wonderful for aromatherapy and are used for creating natural cleaning products, shampoos, and even repelling fleas, but pets may have sensitivities to certain oils. A lot of factors play into whether or not an essential oil is toxic for pets, including the type of oil and its concentration, and the type of pet you have can also determine if and how you should use essential oils around the home. Before you use essential oils or diffuse them in your home, make sure you’re using a combination that has been deemed safe for pets.
Even if an essential oil has been deemed as safe for pets, never apply a concentrated oil directly to their skin or bedding. Always make sure oils are properly diluted prior to use and only choose therapeutic grade oils that are free of added ingredients. Before using oils in a diffuser or homemade spray, remember that less is more — pets have a far greater sense of smell than humans and are therefore more sensitive to scents.
The ASPCA recommends taking the following precautions when using essential oils around your pets:
- Don’t use essential oil dispensers if you have birds in your home
- Keep essential oil diffusers and warmers out of reach of pets
- Avoid using essential oil diffusers and warmers if your pet has respiratory issues
- Don’t give or apply highly concentrated oils to your pets
- Don’t keep diffusers in the same room as animals who groom themselves
What to Do If Your Pet Becomes Poisoned
Even when we take every precaution to protect our pets from harmful substances, a curious pet might get into an open cupboard or something left on the floor. Signs of potential poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, weakness or lethargy, collapse, or even seizures. And contact with toxic chemical products can cause skin irritation or burns. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with a toxic substance or ingested something dangerous, call your veterinary office or a pet poison control hotline and immediately seek medical attention.
Always think about what you use on and around your pets and never use products intended for humans to bathe them or dye their fur. If you decide to use homemade cleaners and pet bathing products, research the ingredients first to make sure they’re safe for your furry friends.
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