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December 03, 2009

Is Leather Safe

QUESTION:

Debra
I want to buy my dog a new leather collar, but can I assume that it is safe in terms of chemicals outgassing or leaching into his skin? I know leather is natural, but do they treat it somehow during the manufacturing process? My dog has immune issues and I worry about just about everything anymore that he comes into contact with.
Thank you! Terry and Dusty

POSTED BY TERRY ANN :: WASHINGTON USA :: 7:41 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Leather itself is not toxic, as it is simply the skin of an animal. However, it may be treated with various different substances, some of which can be quite toxic.

I would contact the manufacturer and see how the leather used was treated.

I find some leather products to have quite an odor and others to have none at all.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


November 23, 2009

Dog Vitamins

QUESTION:

My dog needs a good multivitamin high in iron and fiber. But the one the vet sells is too expensive whilst the one we purchased at another chain store makes me sneeze. I have multiple allergies-food, environmental, contact and chemical! Are there animal vitamins without yeast, wheat, dairy or whatever is causing my sneezing fits in them? Thank you!

POSTED BY SUSAN SPANN :: ALABAMA USA :: 6:45 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


Pet bed

QUESTION:

I'm looking to buy a bed for my 70 lb. German Shepherd. I was hoping to find something organic but my main concern is that it does not have anything toxic in it. I came across a bed that is made out of 100% natural latex rubber with a bamboo blend fabric cover. The company selling this is Precious Comfort Pet Beds. On their website, they describe the materials and the manufacturing process in detail.

www.flexgelluxurypetbed.com/Site/Welcome.html

The company obviously claims the bed is safe. Any thoughts? Better yet, has anyone purchased this bed? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

POSTED BY DENISE CUEBA :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 6:07 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Erring on the side of caution, I would just point out that natural latex has a odor of it's own that some people (like me) don't tolerate, so it would be possible that pets may not tolerate it too.

I couldn't easily find the part of the website that describes how they make it.

I would choose a pet bed with an organic cotton cover and natural fiber fill.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


July 06, 2009

Natural Pet Flea Control

QUESTION:


My German Shepherd dog has a beautiful glossy coat that stays flea and tick free with the following Daily Diet:

1 cup of Merrick Holistic Dry Food (she likes the Campfire Trout Feast best. If I can't get Merrick, I buy whatever natural, holistic dry food is available.

1 Ground Sirloin patty, RAW that I buy from Costco. They also have Ground Beef but it has a lot more fat content.)

2 fresh eggs RAW from our range free chickens mixed in,

Supplements: 4 GARLIC CHEWABLES and 2 FRESH FACTORS tabs that I buy from www.springtimeinc.com. (I use a large kitchen knife to reduce the tabs to a coarse power and add 1/3 to 1/4 cup warm water and stir to make the gravy.)

I live in Hawaii and fleas and ticks love our year around tropical climate and this diet does the job better than anything I've ever tried! I don't use any commercial flea or tick products at all.

German Shepherds descended from wolves and naturally prefer a raw food/scavenger type diet. A researcher named Pottenger is famous for his research on cats and their diet: cooked food vs. raw food. See therawfoodsite.com/cats.htm for the very interesting and enlightening research summary.

POSTED BY PAPAMAUI :: HAWAII USA :: 2:00 PM
CATEGORY — PETS :: 3 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


April 27, 2009

Cat Litter

QUESTION:

I use a plastic shopping bag every day to clean the cat litter box and was wondering if you had a suitable solution to that waste.

POSTED BY NUTMEG'S MOM :: NEW HAMPSHIRE USA :: 2:34 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers, your suggestions?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


April 21, 2009

pet poop composting

QUESTION:

I bought a pet poop composter but have since heard conflicting opinions on whether they are good or bad for the environment. Does anyone out there know?

POSTED BY JF :: MINNESOTA USA :: 4:27 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I haven't read all the pros and cons, but here's my logic.

Cats and dogs are animals, just like any other animal in the environment. Elephants and tigers and monkeys and the like are pooping into the environment all the time. So why shouldn't cats and dogs?

I looked up Pet Poop Composter and found that it is a worm composting box that turns pet poop into compost that can be used in the garden.

I really don't see what the objection would be to this.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 4 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


January 20, 2009

Balls for Dogs - Tennis Balls?

QUESTION:

Hi there, I am wondering what is a good throw toy for my dogs. I normally tennis balls, but lately I am suspect of their smell. I bought hard baseballs, but they chew them up, and the hard toys at the dog store aren't very fun. So my question really is - are tennis balls toxic?

POSTED BY DOGLOVER2 :: TEXAS USA :: 10:00 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Tennis balls are made of a hollow rubber ball, covered with a thin layer of adhesive covers which holds a layer of felt-like material made up of wool and artificial fibers.

The part that smells is probably the adhesive or the ink used to stamp the name on the ball. Depending on what these are made of, they may be toxic.

You might try looking on natural pet websites for dog toys made of all natural materials.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 4 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


January 13, 2009

Pet Food

QUESTION:

I've been reading about the problems with commercial pet food and how it can harm our pets. I have 3 dogs and 3 cats. What are your recommendations for a safe alternative to commercial pet foods? I don't know which brands I can trust any more. I would like to be able to make some home made food and treats for my pets also. If anyone has any recipes I'd be happy to try them.

POSTED BY DEBRA :: MICHIGAN USA :: 3:14 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 18 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


January 06, 2009

Microchips in animals

QUESTION:

I was recently looking at some animal rescue groups websites and have noticed that all of the ones I looked at they note that they microship all of the animals that they have up for adoption.

My knee jerk reaction is that this is NOT good. I just don't see the need to insert a foreign object into my pet so that I can track it. I do understand how it helps when a pet gets lost, but... As an electrical engineer I understand RF and the like and I know first hand how it can affect a person, but this is an animal and biology MAY be a bit different. Also I know that the chip is not ON at all times. As a car accident survivor I know first hand how a body fights against foreign objects beneath the skin, mine was painful but this may not be.

I talked to someone I know at one facility and questioned her on this. And she brought up 'no clinical evidence has been found for this to be an issue'. But did note that 'anything we inject can cause cancer' and that there are 'bigger risks' out there.

I still am not sure that I agree. My problem is that when I want to get another pet I would like to do so through a shelter and it seems they all microchip now. Do you know anything about microchipping? Are there any studies you have that review this?

POSTED BY KELLYLYNN :: MICHIGAN USA :: 9:13 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I want to add a personal story and comment to this, now that I am reading your comments.

My husband and I have had one or more cats for most of our 21 years together. For much of this time, we lived in a rural area in Northern California, in a forest. We let our cats roam as they wanted. We never chipped them and we never even put a collar on them with an ID tag.

We had several litters of kittens (which all went to good homes) and in one of the litters there was a black cat and a very white cream cat. They were so cute, and when they curled up together they looked like a Chinese yin/yang symbol, so we had to keep them. The white male we named Merlin, and the black female we named Meemer (where that name came from, I don't recall).

One day, when they were grown, Merlin disappeared. We weren't worried, because we had had cats go off alone from time to time and they always came back. Two weeks later, there was a knock on the door. It was our neighbor down the street. She had our Merlin in her arms. She said that her cat had died two weeks before and shortly thereafter, Merlin came to her. She knew she should have returned him before, but he had been such a comfort to her. She was now returning him to us.

We were so moved by this story that we offered Merlin to her to keep, and she was overjoyed. We had other cats. She had none. Merlin obviously chose to be with her and we could visit him any time. As much as we loved him, we respected his choice and let him go.

In response to the comments that animals should be chipped so they can be found, I like the comment that suggested a tattoo. I'm always wanting things to be most natural. If animals needed chips for themselves, I think Nature would have provided them. Personally, I wouldn't do it. And while I understand the loss of a pet, I think there are way too many dangerous technological "solutions." I'd rather love my pets and have them be healthy and happy than give them a risk that may not be necessary.

I'm a big believer in positive thinking. I've always intended for my pets to be safe and sound with me, and they have been. No chipping needed.


Debra :-)


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't have any data on this, but my logic agrees with yours.

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 16 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


January 02, 2009

Looking for Shampoo for Dog Dander

QUESTION:

I am looking for a shampoo I can use on my dog which is chemical free. I have MCS and have now become allergic to my dog. I DO NOT want to have to give her up as it would break my heart! If anyone knows of any shampoos to reduce pet dander that would be safe for me, please post!

Thank you, Sandy

POSTED BY SANDY :: ILLINOIS USA :: 1:09 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 4 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


Cleaning the Patio of Pet excriments

QUESTION:

Hi there! My family and I (husband, step-son (13), daughter (4), and son (1)) adopted a new puppy last week. He is a fabulous dog and your book Home Safe Home has been wonderful for our family since I received it as an early Christmas Gift.

I do however have a question. Our puppy is currently 9 weeks old and of course we are in the process of potty training. After seeing the vet a few days ago he recommended that we quarintine him inside of the apartment for the next few weeks (until he has had his complete round of parvo vaccines) in order to reduce his risk of contracting the disease. With this new 'no going outside rule' we are having to allow him out onto our patio to do his business.

Of course since we're still in the beginning stages of potty training we have not been able to get him to successfully go on the puppy pad just yet, which results in him basically excrimenting just about anywhere on the patio.

My question is to you is how can I clean and disinfect my patio concrete after he goes without causing harm to him or my children. You see currently I had to go out and scrubbed the patio with some chlorine bleach (I know OMG!) and water but now I can't let any of them outside because I don't want them playing in it or drinking it. Can you help me?

POSTED BY MICHELLE HUFF :: TEXAS USA :: 1:07 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

There are natural stain and odor remover products for dogs, but they don't disinfect.

For the disinfecting, I would look to borax, which is used to wash baby diapers, or vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (spray with one then spray with the other), which has been proven to disinfect countertops.

If the area is in the sun, the heat of the sun will disinfect, but the sun is pretty weak this time of year.

Readers, any suggestions?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


September 01, 2008

Toxic Exposures and Pets

QUESTION:

I just wanted to share this article I wrote for our newsletter.

Pam :-)

Nose Deep in Our World

Cats and dogs engage in many behasviors we do not. They clean themselves, using their tongues as washcloths. They eat off the floor. They are petted by guardians whose hands have been busy all day and immersed in who knows what. Their food may come exclusively from cans or plastic lined pouches. They chew on toys which contain plasticizers, heavy metals, and dyes. They sleep on foam beds soaked in flame retardants and protected with stain proofing chemicals. They walk without shoes on lawns and other surfaces which may harbor all kinds of trace chemicals. Basically-- they are nose deep in the big wooly world, chemicals and all.

The Price They Pay: Our Pets' Chemical Burden

Have you ever heard of the Environmental Working Group (EWG)? You can find out much more about them here, But for now just remember they are a not-for-profit research and educational organization concerned about the impact of industrial toxins on the world's health.

EWG recently completed the most expansive investigation ever published for companion animals. They collected blood and urine from 20 dogs and 37 cats in Virginia and put these through extensive testing looking for chemical contaminants. They tested for 70 industrial chemicals and found 48. Of these 48 chemicals, 43 were at levels greater than those typically found in humans-many far greater.

Significant Industrial Chemicals Found

Teflon chemicals: These are compounds developed to provide stain and grease proofing. Likely sources are: the lining of dog food bags, house dust, stain proofed furniture, carpets, and pet beds. Indicated in respiratory problems and cancer.

Phthalates, also known as plastic softeners or plasticizers: Found in plastic containers, plastic toys, plastic water bowls or bottles, shampoos, by products of veterinary medicines, and a large number of consumer products like hand and face cream. It is hard not to think of this when you are petting your cat or dog - perhaps washing your hands before petting is a good idea.

Fire Retardants: These were present at very high levels. They are found in house dust, bedding, furniture, and...pet food. They adversely effect brain development and behavior.

BisPhenol A (BPA): Used in linings of cans and found in many plastics. The longer a liquid sits in a BPA liner the more BPA will leach into the liquid. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor, affecting many aspects of development. Researchers have known for years that there is a high correlation between hyperthyroidism and kitties eating canned cat food.

How Can We Prevent Toxic Burden in Our Pets?

First we need information. But information is hard to get. Few studies are being done to explore the effects of environmental toxins on our pets. Most importantly, almost nothing is being done by our government to ensure that pet products are safe and do not contain toxic chemicals. Pet foods do not need pre-market approval by the FDA. If pet foods are not labeled as a medication the ingredients are only given a nod of recognition by the FDA.

For example, ethoxyquin is well known to have severe negative effects but nothing significant has been done to limit its use in dog food. The FDA has asked our pet food industry to voluntarily lower its use and to study its effects. Really?! I am not holding my breath.
If it doesn't harm humans, the Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn't do anything either. Simply put, pets are on their own. As we know from recent pet food contamination, this is not a safe situation.

What Can We Do?

Basically we can care. Our pets are sentinels and the toxic burden they carry is a warning. All of Earth's inhabitants are connected. We essentially breathe the same air and swim in the same water. But, caring is a lot harder than it sounds. So much information is hidden or unknown. Science and industry has brought many new, potentially useful, and potentially harmful materials into our lives and into our world.

So....stay informed. Read labels. Express your concerns. Ask lots of questions. Whenever possible use products which come from natural organic sources. This means using ceramic or glass bowls--not plastic and rejecting practices like stain proofing pet beds. Think about the likelihood that something occurs naturally. Obviously a pet bed could never be naturally stain proof (at least not at our house). If it sounds too good to be true-- it probably is.

Write or call suppliers and ask questions. Are your pet food cans lined with BPA containing resins? Are your dog food bags coated with Teflon chemicals? Does your dog bed contain flame retardant? Are your cat beds sprayed with stain proofing? Tell these same suppliers what you want for your pets, and what you don't want. If enough people take action companies will improve their offerings.

Finally, consider joining a local and/or national advocacy group. Working together can be a great way to facilitate change. Pets for the Environment is an interesting new advocacy group that has grown out of EWG's landmark study. See what Eddie, their spokes dog has to say.



More Information

Cancer in our pets and how industrial chemicals may be implicated:

www.cvm.tamu.edu/oncology/faq/questions/incide01.html

www.cvm.tamu.edu/oncology/faq/questions/know01.html

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15112777
If you plow thorough this dense article a fairly complete picture of the problems associated with researching industrial toxins will present itself.

Important reading

An extensive new literature concerning low-dose effects of bisphenol A shows the need for a new risk assessment

The oceans and our plastic trash:
www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Ocean/Trashing-Oceans-Plastic4nov02.htm

Water systems and our personal care products:
www.naturalnews.com/021898.html

POSTED BY PAM WHEELOCK :: PURRFECT PLAY :: WWW.PURRFECTPLAY.COM :: INDIANA USA :: 4:22 PM
CATEGORY — PETS :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


August 15, 2008

Starting kittens off Green!

QUESTION:

Hello!
I am in the process of adopting 2 kittens from the local humane society. I would like to make the products I buy for them as green as possible (without breaking the bank!) Does anyone have any specific recommendations or websites/stores that sell green(er) litterboxes, toys, food, and pet beds? I have looked into the Feline Pine litter, and plan to use it, but have not found any other green, cost-effective cat products out there yet. Thanks!

POSTED BY KARA GOVONI :: MIESSENCE PRODUCTS :: WWW.JKGOVONI.MIONEGROUP.COM :: OHIO USA :: 3:59 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

We use feline pine for our cat and have had our share of kittens over the years. You can read about our cat at At Home With Debra: Caring for My Cat.

Readers, suggestions for kittens?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 5 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


August 05, 2008

Flea control for dogs

QUESTION:

Hi,

What do you recommend for flea and tick control for dogs? I saw Sergeant's Nature's Guardian squeeze on product and their powder. The package says it is "natural". The ingredients listed are peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, lemon grass oil, clove oil, thyme oil, vanillin, and isopropyl myristate. The powder has the same oils but has silicic acid, calcium salt, carbonic acid, monosodium salt, and calcium carbonate. Do you think these "natural" products are safe?
Thanks for your help.

POSTED BY DEBBIE IN KENTUCKY :: KENTUCKY USA :: 10:04 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

First, let's look at the ingredients.

Obviously cinnamon oil and the like are natural. Isopropyl myristate is not quite natural. It is made from myristic acid (a saturated fatty acid from plants) and isopropyl alcohol (made from petrochemicals). So it's a "half-and-half" ingredient.

The rest of the ingredients are natural.

I don't see any ingredients here that are particularly toxic, however, it is always wise to be careful with essential plant oils as they are very concentrated and can be irritating to the skin.

I don't see any reason not to use this.

Readers, what do you use to control fleas on dogs?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 18 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


May 26, 2008

Pet Poop

QUESTION:

Hi there,

I think it is great that pet poop bags are biodegradable, BUT, do they biodegrade in the anaerobic conditions of a landfill? If not, where would you put the waste in order to biodegrade? Or what do you do with cat litter? It is my understanding that pet feces is not good to compost. Thanks.

POSTED BY LFD :: ALBERTA CANADA :: 2:47 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING biodegrades in a landfill. Not even food. So, no, a landfill is not the best place for pet poop.

One website that addresses this question is www.pethabitats.com/, which offers advice and products for eco-friendly pet care.

Another is Dog Waste Composter, which tells how you actually can compost pet feces.

Readers, any ideas or experience with this?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


May 19, 2008

Replace plastic and paper bags with?

QUESTION:

Question

What should we replace plastic and paper bags with for our doggie walks outdoors and our home indoor garbage cans?

POSTED BY SHARON :: WA USA :: 10:12 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

BioBags!

These bioplastic bags are made from corn and are completely biodegradable.

They have kitchen bags, lawn and leaf bags, pet poo bags, shopping bags and more. If you don't find them at your local natural food store, you can order them online.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


April 29, 2008

Water quality issues w/ bathing pets

QUESTION:

I have been doing a lot of research on water lately (filtration systems, ionizers, etc.). Although there is a wealth of information on the Internet, it has been difficult to find an unbiased, trustworthy source that is not ultimately trying to sell a product.

I am thankful to have stumbled upon your website as it seems like a credible source of information.

So I have several product related questions...

1. I have a german shepherd who swims a lot during the summer months. I am concerned about how much chlorine he is absorbing from the pool water as well as from the hose water I use to bathe him with. I have read the content posted on your site regarding chlorine-free swimming pools. While that is definitely something I plan to invest in , it is not financially feasible for me at this point. Do you have any thoughts on the product "Chlor-free" (tablets you put in the pool that decrease, not eliminate, the amount of chlorine needed)?

2. As far as bathing my dog, I am looking to buy a water filter that attaches to a garden hose. Do you know anything about the Clear Garden Hose Filter sold by Pure Water Products, LLC? www.pwgazette.com/gardenhosefilters.htm
Or is there another product you would recommend over this one?

3. If I do have a filter on the hose, should I be concerned about the type of hose I use? Would it be better to also purchase a food grade, drinking water safe type hose and use the two together?

4. On a separate note, regarding drinking water, I read the posting by Winston Kao that said RO water will leach in stainless steel containers. I recently purchased a Klean Kanteen water bottle and also a Sigg water bottle. The water we drink in my house is Sparkletts (purified via RO and UV but it has minerals added back after purification process). So my question is... is the water still considered "hungry" water that will leach in stainless steel given the minerals are added back?

I would appreciate any advice anyone has to offer...Thanks!

POSTED BY DENISE CUEBA :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 12:16 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

First, a pet would absorb chlorine through their skin just as it's person would. I don't know anything about Chlor-Free tablets. I went to a couple of websites that sell them, and they were pretty confusing.

The garden hose filter you mentioned is just a standard carbon filter. You can get the same thing at Home Depot, Lowe's, or a hardware store.

Yes, get a drinking water safe type hose.

If you add minerals back to the water, it is no longer "thirsty."

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


April 28, 2008

Xylitol and dogs

QUESTION:

Hi Debra
I am a registered dental hygienist and know the great dental benefits of Xylitol and caries prevention. What most consumers do not know is Xylitol is poisonous to dogs, just a small amount ingested can make them extremely ill or kill them. Some may inadvertently give fido a piece of cake, cookie or something else made with Xylitol not realizing how potentially dangerous it is.
God Bless

POSTED BY ROXANN :: MICHIGAN USA :: 11:44 PM
CATEGORY — PETS :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


February 21, 2008

Dog Skin Issues/Demodex

QUESTION:

Hello,
I am a long time fan of your books and greatly appreciate the blog.

We recently obtained a short haired dog from a rescue organization. She is probably about 1 1/2 to 2 years old. It is my understanding that when she was recued from a shelter in March, that she had no skin/coat issues. This evidently began to develop in late summer and she was diagnosed with Demodetic Mange, which is not contagious....being an overgrowth of the skin mites, usually due to stress or other health issues....rather like I would think of a yeast infection for us. We adopted her around Christmas, and she was still being treated with a good degree of success. They were doing an alternate method of Ivermectin and Mitiban dip. Our vet has continued the treatment with Ivermectin but not the toxic dip. However, Ivermectin, which is a heartworm/parasite type treatment, is not something I care to give long term.

We have her on a premium dog food, and I am adding some cooked chicken and rice and carrots, to help try to build her up. Do you have any natural, non-toxic suggestions for skin ointments or dips or other supplements that might help? Our vet has suggested fish oil, which I am about to purchase.

Thank you very much for any assistance.

CC

POSTED BY CC :: TEXAS USA :: 4:47 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't have any experience with dogs.

Readers? Any suggestions?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 9 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


February 11, 2008

Eliminating the smell of cat urine

QUESTION:

Hi Everyone...I am seeking an answer on how to eliminate the smell of cat urine. I have been feeding some strays by my house and they have repaid me by spraying my screened back door. The bottom part is made of metal. I have tried everything and though the smell isn't as strong as it was, it still lingers. I have a nose like a bloodhound and everytime I open that door, which is every day, I get a whiff of it. I am trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible. Any suggestions???

Thanks

Yvonne Clark
Wilkes Barre, PA

POSTED BY YVONNE CLARK :: PENNSYLVANIA USA :: 2:50 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 26 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


December 12, 2007

The Environmental Impact of Pets

Here are links to an interesting 2-part article from the San Francisco Chronicle about the environmental impact of pets.

The 1st part is about the impact itself; the 2nd part is about what we can do.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/
article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/11/13/petscol.DTL


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/
article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/11/27/petscol.DTL

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


November 27, 2007

help! we have ringworm!

QUESTION:

Hi,

I have 4 cats and 3 dogs and one new baby. I also work for a cat rescue organization and unfortunately came into contact with a kitten who had ringworm.

Despite my precautions, I must have brought it home because now two of my cats have come down with it. I do not want the rest of my pets and especially my new baby to get it.

Everyone has told me the only thing that really kills ringworm spores is bleach. Although I try very hard to make my home as toxin-free as possible, a few days ago I scrubbed down the whole house with bleach and water solution (1 oz bleach to 25 oz water). Now I remember why I have always hated bleach!

Despite diluting it, my whole house reeks of it (even after 3 days!)! And the horrible thing is that even though I have the cats quarantined, I feel like I need to keep using it to clean my shoes, hands, and other such objects after I go in to care for them everyday. Even though I wear a change of clothes and latex gloves, their hair gets on me and I feel like I am just covered in ringworm spores and since my baby is home with me, I feel I need to be extra clean before I even touch her!

After doing some research, I read that grapefruit seed extract is supposed to be good at killing ringworm, but then I read somewhere else that it actually didn't do anything.

Do you know of anything nontoxic or at least less toxic that will actually kill the ringworm fungus and spores? I could potentially have to be scrubbing down my house every week for months and I do not want to have to keep using bleach.

I have also been told that Chlorhexidine scrub will kill it. I have used that to scrub surgery instruments before and it definitely has a much less offensive odor but I don't know if it is really any less toxic or perhaps even more so. Do you know?

Finally, I have been washing my hands in a diluted bleach mixture. But I breastfeed my baby and I am worried about whether my skin could absorb this and I could be harming my baby by passing these toxins on to her

Please tell me what you think!! Thank you for your help!!

POSTED BY JEN :: COLORADO USA :: 11:07 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 20 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


November 20, 2007

Teflon-free Breadmaker

QUESTION:

Debra,

Do you know where I can purchase a teflon-free breadmaker? I have several parrots and I cannot cook with teflon because it could be fatal to my birds.

I have searched but cannot find one. Please help.

POSTED BY JANET WOLF STRAND :: NEVADA USA :: 3:22 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't know. When I bake bread, which is rarely, I use an old loaf pan.

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


October 02, 2007

Tick Invasion

QUESTION:

We are having a tick epidemic here in the Tampa Bay Area. I have found several on me but none on the dogs yet. Other dog owners are also becoming quite concerned about the amount of ticks they are pulling off their animals on a daily basis.

I do not spray my house or yard with pesticides. We use diatomaceous earth outside for fleas and have had no problems. I am told that has no effect on ticks.

Do you have any suggestions for treating the yard? I also do not use commercial flea control on the dogs. Just natural foods and essential oils topically.

I am concerned because I did have Lyme disease and one was found imbedded in me. I don't know the bigger risk - pesticides or threat of disease. I also have had environmental poisoning. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

POSTED BY TERRI AUDINO DLUHY :: FLORIDA USA :: 10:02 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 13 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


November 08, 2006

Diatomaceous Earth

QUESTION:

Hi!

I was wondering if you, or anyone out there has heard of this or has used it, and if so, what kind of results did you get with it?

I am including the web site where I purchased this (see below) because it has lots of information that seemed in line with all the other info I found on other sites. They all said the same thing: it was a natural product, it kills all kinds of pests, is safe for humans & pets, can even be used as a cleanser for internal parasites in humans.

I purchased the food grade DE & also the DE with pyrethins to use on my dog for fleas. I sprinkled the food grade on all the carpeting in my entire house, working it into the nap & left it there for over a week. I also dusted my dog with the DE with pyrethrins. It is supposed to kill the "pests" by drying them up from the inside.

In theory, this all sounds great, but in all honesty, the fleas on my dog (who, by the way, has never had fleas before) got much worse. After about 3-4 days of his constant scratching & agony, I broke down & purchased the old stand-by poison in the vial that is absorbed into his bloodstream.

The powder is extremely fine & dusty & I spent an entire week cleaning dust off of every surface in my house after this. I believe the part about drying the pests up because it really dried my hands & also my dog's skin.

What can anyone tell me about this? Did I not give it enough time to work or did I get ripped off?

Thanks.

http://www.freshwaterorganics.com/

POSTED BY DEANNA :: TENNESSEE USA :: 12:05 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I personally used to use DE to control fleas on my cat. It did work for that purpose, without pyrethrins, because, as you said, it dries up the flea bodies.

I no longer use it because someone wrote to me and said the dust caused lung problems in cats. How true that is, I don't know, but, as you said, it is a very fine powder and that made sense to me.

I'd like to hear the experience and thoughts of others regarding DE. It is a natural, nontoxic product. Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 19 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


October 07, 2006

anti allergen pet shampoo

QUESTION:

I am looking for an anti allergen+pet shampoo for dogs that is odorless and would be tolerable for a person with MCS. I looked under your list but didnt see one. Thank s

POSTED BY SVW :: WASHINGTON USA :: 3:10 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? What are your suggestions? I have a cat who cleans herself, so I never use pet shampoo. Which brands do you like?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 6 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


August 21, 2006

Baking Soda in Litter Box

QUESTION:

Wanted to know what you think about this. My nephew has 2 large cats using 1 covered box. He uses clumping litter, somewhat sparingly, but clean the box daily.

When he goes away I take care of these cats. When I scoop the box there is a cloud from all the baking soda he uses. And, I don't believe he empties and washes the box very often. I am concerned, and I don't want to interfere, but I feel this is no good for the health of his cats. They are orange, one long hair, one shorter hair, brothers, and weigh around 18 lbs. He rough houses with them, and from what I can tell, they seem ok. One of them has started to have hairballs more often then before, and I believe that one also has gone outside of the box on occasion.

Your comments would be appreciated, thanks!

POSTED BY N. W. :: USA :: 2:16 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

While I know of no toxic effects of baking soda, it is a particle, and high concentrations of any particle has the potential to act as an irritant.

I checked the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for baking soda and it says "High concentrations of dust may cause coughing and sneezing."

I would say that "a cloud" of baking soda is probably too much, and more than is needed to control odor. I personally would cut down on the amount of baking soda used.

We use Feline Pine and have no problem with odor.


Debra :-)


CATEGORY — PETS :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT


October 08, 2005

Emergency preparedness for pets

QUESTION:

After reading in your newsletter about your disaster preparedness preparations and then seeing you mention your cat, I thought I would pass along some information about disaster preparedness for pets.

I've been corresponding with someone I met on an internet group since we both have cats we love dearly and could not leave behind in an emergency, a problem that evidently caused many hurricane/flood victims not to evacuate. With earthquakes or, potentially, terrorism there is no warning in order to evacuate, but if an earthquake or other emergency makes buildings unlivable, one may have to evacuate on very short notice.

She shared a website with me that has excellent information on emergency preparation for pets. They are working to rescue many pets in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

The organization is Noah's Wish. They have resources on disaster/evacuation planning for all kinds of pets, not just cats.

I had never heard of them until my internet group friend told me about their site after I mentioned I couldn't imagine leaving my cat if emergency shelters didn't permit pets and that I'd probably stay in my car to keep my cat with me. She said she'd probably do the same!

POSTED BY L. R. :: CALIFORNIA USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Good advice! Thanks!

Debra :-)


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August 09, 2005

Handling a Flea Infestation

QUESTION:

We are seeking information on how to handle a flea infestation problem with also mites that were brought into the house from the yard on cats. We don't want to bomb or use toxic chemicals, but cleaning and removing furniture and carpet hasn't handled it. What do you recommend? A quick response would be appreciated, as it is overwhelming! Thanks!

POSTED BY P.K. AND C.L. :: UTAH USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Being a cat owner for many years, I've had to deal with the flea problem myself. Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy solution. It requires some vigilance and ongoing attention, but you can bring the fleas under control and keep them out of your house. It's best to make a plan and follow it, and make sure to do all the steps.

The Life Cycle of Fleas

In order to control fleas, you need to understand their life cycle. Fleas reproduce faster than bunnies--in one month, ten females can generate over 267,000 offspring. They are tough and tenacious and know how to survive, but you can outsmart them if you know how to do it.

When you see fleas on your cat they are in the adult stage. Their average life span is about 6 weeks. As an adult, the flea spends almost all of its time on your pet and will not leave voluntarily unless their population becomes excessively large, and then they will look for another animal to live on, which is usually the nearest human. Since an animal body is their natural environment, if you want them to leave you have to kill or remove them yourself.

A female flea can lay 20 to 28 eggs a day, which can multiply to several hundred eggs over her lifetime. The eggs fall off you cat and develop where they land, which could be anywhere your cat goes, including your carpet. your sofa, your bed, and even in cracks in wood floors and other small crevices. A larvae then hatches from the flea egg.

The larva forms a pupae and begins to grow. It can take from as few as 9 days to as long as 200 days for it to grow and for conditions to be ideal for it to hatch. They prefer the temperature to be between 65 and 80 degrees and the humidity 75 to 85 per cent. For some areas of the country this is all year, and in others, the flea season is relatively short. This is the stage that makes flea control difficult because the pupa is resistant to just about everything. Even if you kill all the adults, eggs and larvae, your flea infestation will return as the pupae begin to hatch.

Fleas emerge from the pupae as full-grown adults, who lay eggs and the cycle starts again.

You can estimate that for every adult flea found on your cat, there are about 10 developing fleas in her environment. So to entirely solve your flea problem, you must eliminate all stages of the flea life cycle on your pet, in your home, and in your garden. Even if you kill all the adult fleas, there are still flea larvae waiting to hatch, so they are sure to return unless you follow a maintenance system all season long.

The Easiest But Not the Best Solution

The easiest thing to do is to use one of the topical flea products that can be applied monthly. These stop fleas from biting in three to five minutes, and start killing fleas within an hour. Within 12-18 hours of initial application, 98-100 percent of all existing fleas on pets are dead. They also kill flea larvae and protect your cat from fleas for a full month before reapplication is required.

Sounds great, but these products have their problems. They are lauded for their safety and effectiveness by the pet industry, but their active ingredients are still pesticides, including Imidacloprid and Fipronil.

This is one of those situations where you need to decide for yourself the trade-off between having instant relief from fleas for yourself and your cat but using a product that is more toxic to you, your pet, and other critters in the environment, or taking the longer and more time-consuming route and handling fleas for good using natural methods.

Rather than choosing one or the other, if you have an immediate infestation it might be best to get immediate relief and then use the natural methods to prevent an infestation from recurring. Biting and scratching can be just as harmful to health as the toxicity of the product, if not more. Fleas can also cause allergy dermatitis in some cats and may be carriers of diseases. But I wouldn't rely on applying these products to my cat for the rest of her life. Only in an emergency. But perhaps not even then. One dog owner almost lost his pet after using a topical flea product.

Ultimately the question becomes "What will result in the greatest good?"--for your cat, for yourself, for your family, and for all life. Only you can weigh the pros and cons and make that determination.

Remove Fleas From Your Cat

Since your cat is where the fleas like to live, the first step is to remove them from her body.

Use a flea comb daily. If you suspect your pet has fleas, go to the pet store immediately and get a flea comb. They come in all sizes and have teeth that are very close together to trap the fleas. When you use a flea comb, you remove both the adult fleas and any larvae and eggs that are still on your pet. Because new eggs may be hatching continuously, you'll need to comb your pet daily to catch new fleas and break the life cycle. Just run the comb through your cat's fur, and drop the fleas that remain on the comb into a bowl of soapy water flush the water down the toilet when you are through. Even if your cat doesn't have fleas, it's good to have a flea comb on hand anyway. Cats like to be combed and if you comb her regularly, you can catch fleas and begin to control them before they begin to multiply.

Bathe your cat weekly. Fleas prefer unhealthy, sour-smelling, dirty animals, so you can prevent their presence by keeping your pet clean. Most cats are fastidious and will keep themselves clean anyway, but if she doesn't you need to step in and help her. Fleas may also be a sign that your pet is ill and needs attention. For her bath, you can use an herbal shampoo with flea-killing and Ėrepelling properties, however, fleas will die if they are simply immersed in the soap from sudsing up your cat, so you can use any shampoo that is safe for cats.

Apply a natural flea repellant. Between baths you should treat your cat with a herbal flea powder. The easiest thing to do is simply rub ground cloves, eucalyptus oil, or strong wormwood tea purchase wormwood leaves at a natural food store directly into your cat's fur. Or purchase an herbal flea powder that contains wormwood, rosemary, bay, mint, lavender, lemongrass and rue. You may need to apply the powder every day or two during flea season. The powders seem to work better than herbal flea collars because the repellant is more evenly distributed throughout the fur where the fleas are. You can also use citrus oil to repel fleas.

CITRUS FLEA REPELLANT
  1. Place 4 cut lemons in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  2. Cool and strain the liquid, and store in a glass container.
  3. Apply the liquid liberally to your cat's fur while brushing her coat, so the citrus oil penetrates all the way down to her skin.
  4. Dry your cat with towels and brush again.

Establish one regular sleeping area for your pet. Fleas tend to accumulate where animals sleep, so establishing one sleeping area will make it easier for you to collect them. Also, if your cat likes to sleep on your bed like ours does! establishing a separate sleeping area will keep fleas out of your bed. Choose an area that can be cleaned easily and regularly. Bedding materials such as blankets or rugs should be removed and washed frequently.

Remove Fleas From Your Home

Use a natural flea spray. A friend of mine, who recently had a bad flea infestation in her home, used Bioganic Crawling Insect Killer and said it completely handled the problem. In her case, fleas were living in the cracks between tiles in the bathroom, so a spray such as this can get into such tiny crevices.

Bake fleas out of your house. This is the quickest way I know of to destroy fleas. They can't live above about 80 degrees, so you only have to heat your house to about 90 degrees to ensure that you will kill them. Remove children, plants and pets, close up your house, and turn up the heat to the highest setting. Go on an outing for the day; when you return, the fleas will be dead.

Use a dehumidifier. This will reduce the humidity in your home to a level where fleas canít survive. Get the humidity down to less than 70 percent, the fleas will leave and youíll be more comfortable, too.

Vacuum frequently. At least several times a week, and daily if necessary. Use a strong canister-type machine, and vacuum all areas to which your cat has access. Use a crevice tool for corners and out-of-the-way places and vacuum thoroughlyónot just carpets, but hard floors, upholstered furniture, and pillows. Seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag immediately, and discard it away from the house. Severe flea infestations may require an initial shampooing or steam cleaning of rugs and upholstered furniture. And, as drastic as this may sound, to completely solve a flea problem, you may need to remove wall-to-wall carpeting altogether.

Apply repellants. Natural pyrethrum powders are very effective and can be used safely indoors. Apply powder on floors, along baseboards, under pet sleeping areas. Use pyrethrum indoors only, as it breaks down quickly and harmlessly when exposed to sunlight. You can also use repellant essential oil such as lavender, citronella, pine, rose, and others. Sprinkle two ounces of oil over two quarts of rock salt. Let the salt sit to absorb the oil, then sprinkle it under dressers, couches and rugs, and in other areas that donít move a lot. You can also mix any of these oils with water in a spray bottle and spray infested areas. These will not kill fleas, but will make the environment less inviting.

Block entrances to the house. Close off pathways fleas can use to get inside, Make sure that any doors and windows that are usually left open have secure screens.

Remove Fleas From Your Garden

If your cat is an outdoor cat, there may be flea larvae in your garden soil. To kill them, look for beneficial nematode products that, when applied to the soil, will specifically control flea larvae. In addition, nematodes will control many other types of pests that have part of their life cycle in the soil. Check with your local nursery for appropriate products.

Keep Your Cat Healthy

This really is the cornerstone of long-term flea control. Healthy cats donít have flea problems. Only animals that are sick or weak will have trouble with fleas. I learned this from a dog breeder, and she showed me her animals as proof.

When a cat is healthy, it does not "taste" or "smell" good to the fleas and therefore will not attract them. If your cat does get fleas, take it as a sign that something is out of balance--their diet needs to be changed, or hygiene improved. Simply using a product to get rid of fleas--whether toxic or natural--might cause you to overlook natureís signal that something is amiss.

Debra :-)


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