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Pet Health


Cleaning Supplies: What’s Dog Friendly and What’s not Dog Friendly?

All I have to do is pick up a can of aerosol spray and my dog starts sneezing… even if…

cleaning chemicals

All I have to do is pick up a can of aerosol spray and my dog starts sneezing… even if she’s on the other side of the room. I haven’t even sprayed it yet and she’s sneezing! It’s so funny. She knows from experience that the aerosol spray will make her sneeze so she gets a head-start. She does it with any aerosol can… hairsprays, disinfectant sprays, air-fresheners. She’s such a little goof-ball.

After researching the subject, it’s probably a good thing that she sneezes! Maybe her sneezing is helping to rid her nasal canal of what is causing her respiratory allergies. If she does happen to ingest (via her nose) what is being sprayed, it could be very harmful to her. I’m reading that aerosol sprays contain chemicals like formaldehyde, xylene, and various other VOC’s. What are VOC’s? VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. You would think that something with the word “organic” in it would be a good thing, but not in this case. VOC’s are gasses emitted from a variety of chemicals which are known carcinogens and neurotoxins. And we’re not even talking about the cleaning chemicals that are inside the cans yet… we’re just talking about the substances used to propel them into the air!

The Dangers of Aerosol

Many years ago, the late 70’s to be more specific, aerosol cans were banned because of increasing evidence that they were damaging to the earth’s ozone layer. I can’t help but wonder… if they were that harmful to the earth’s ozone, what were they doing to us and our pets? Anyway, in the late 80’s a new aerosol can was developed using other propellant gases – propane, nitrous oxide, hydrocarbons, etc.. The ozone problem may have been eliminated, but another one was created. The new aerosol cans contain many harmful VOC’s. Harmful to us and to our pets.

Although we can’t really see them, when a VOC is dispersed into the air, it forms a little vapor “cloud”. When we breathe, those chemicals are carried directly to the olfactory receptors in our noses. Just imagine the intensification of those chemicals when they reach our dog’s super-human olfactory system! Because of our dog’s extraordinarily adept receptors, they experience odors quicker and stronger than we do.

Aerosol cans are not the only things that contain VOC’s, but so many of the cleaning liquids, powders, and sprays we use contain VOC’s, and that’s the main villain in this story. The ingredients used in common household products have been linked to many cancers, neurotoxicity, asthma, and reproductive disorders. Chemicals can enter our pet’s bodies just through breathing alone…they don’t have to actually lick or eat the substances to be affected. Differences in a dog’s age, health condition and how much or how long they are exposed to the chemical are all factors in how it will affect their health. Even short-term exposure to high levels of some VOC’S may cause nausea, eye irritation, and respiratory irritation. These things usually go away after the exposure stops, but the long-term, accumulative effects of the VOC’s can affect the liver, kidneys and nervous system.

Dangerous Household Cleansers

Let’s think of the cleaners we use on a regular basis… Bleach, ammonia (Window cleaners), carpet cleaners, floor cleaners, dishwashing liquid, clothes detergent… All of which contain unhealthy VOC’s. Right now I’m looking at the warning notices on nearly every cleaning product in my cupboard and I am astonished! Most just say, “hazardous to children”, some say “hazardous to children and pets”. Many are “general” warnings, pertaining to any living being within the range of use. Scary, huh? Warning labels of any kind are not to be ignored.

So what do we do? We want a super clean, nice-smelling, sanitary home but we certainly don’t want to harm our pets in the process.

Tips for Getting Dog-Friendly Cleaning Supplies and Cleaning Methods:

Steam cleaning

We just bought a floor steam cleaner for our home. We have mostly hardwood floors and it is amazing what the steam mop has picked up… And that’s after we had already mopped the floor numerous times with other floor cleaning products. It cleans and sanitizes very, very well. And if you want it to smell good, you can add some essential oils to the mop-head. They do not recommend adding it to the water/steam itself. Some people add a little vinegar to the water. I personally do not like the smell of vinegar so I haven’t tried that, but if you like that smell, give it a shot! You can buy hand-held steam cleaners for tubs, showers, countertops, and nearly anything else you want to clean.

Murphy’s Oil Soap

Murphy’s oil soap is fairly safe to use around pets, in fact, it is recommended several places online as a bath soap for dogs (I’d be careful about that… ask your vet for his/her opinion). Your pet could become sick if they ingest Murphy’s oil soap directly, or if they get it in their eyes or on their nose. It is not a good idea to expose them to it full strength. Proper dilution of Murphy’s Oil for use as a cleanser in your home is a much better alternative to many of the chemical cleaners on the market.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers can be a helpful tool in maintaining a pleasant environment, especially if you’re dealing with lingering dog smells. These devices work by removing contaminants from the air, including pet dander, allergens, and yes, even odors. Many air purifiers are safe for pets, but it’s essential to do your research. There are various types on the market, including those that use HEPA filters, activated carbon, or ionization technology. Some air purifiers come equipped with ozonators or ionizers. However, these types can potentially be harmful to pets under certain circumstances, as they change the molecule structure of the air, which might not be healthy for your pet to inhale. Always read the product descriptions and warnings before making a purchase. It’s also a good idea to check user reviews or consult with a vet for their recommendations on pet-safe models.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is not just good for baking cakes. It’s an excellent deodorizer and can help to absorb unpleasant smells in your home, including those from your pet. If your dog has left a distinctive odor in your car or on a pet bed, for example, sprinkling some baking soda and letting it sit before vacuuming can help to eliminate the smell. Baking soda can also be used in various cleaning applications, from pots and pans to toilets, and even to freshen up your dog’s breath. However, it should be used with caution around pets as ingesting large amounts can be harmful.

Castile Soap

Castile soap, like Dr. Bronners, is a versatile, plant-based cleanser that’s safe for use around pets. It’s biodegradable and free from harsh chemicals, making it an excellent choice for cleaning various surfaces in your home without exposing your dog to harmful substances. Some people even use Castile soap to bathe their dogs. Its gentle nature can be a good fit for dogs with sensitive skin. However, it’s always best to consult with your vet before changing your pet’s grooming products.

Vinegar and Water

Vinegar, despite its strong smell, is a powerful, non-toxic cleaner that’s safe to use around pets. A solution of equal parts water and vinegar can be used to clean windows, floors, and surfaces, leaving them free of streaks and bacteria. Vinegar’s acidic nature can help break down many odor-causing substances, making it especially useful for cleaning areas that your dog frequents or if you’re dealing with pet stains. If the smell of vinegar is off-putting, you can dilute it more or add a few drops of essential oil (make sure it’s safe for pets).

Be Cautious with Citrus Oils

Citrus oils are in many cleansers on the market today. They sound innocent enough, but often times these oils are added to other chemicals in the formula. Be sure to read the ingredient list. Keep in mind too, that all natural oils can irritate the skin in their purest state. Not just citrus, but also cedar and pine. Use caution.

Trusted Dog-Friendly Brands

We are fortunate to live in an age when many conscientious manufacturers devote their entire line of products to only environmental and pet safe products. To name a few:

  • Meyers
  • Green Works
  • Seventh Generation
  • Natures Miracle
  • Method – their products are pretty amazing too, and conveniently available at Target and Walmart. Method’s website states: “Method’s entire product line is safe for use around pets and is specially formulated to put the hurt on dirt without harming your furry friends.” Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Also, understanding why dogs smell can be useful to prevent these strong odors. Various factors, such as their diet, hygiene, or any underlying medical conditions, can affect the way your dog smells. In particular, dogs have scent glands in their feet and ears that secrete a distinct odor. Moreover, dogs also sweat through their paws, which can lead to a strong smell, especially in a confined space like a car. There are a few tips and tricks that you can follow to make your car smell fresh and clean again.

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