Ahhh, spring! The temperatures are rising, the flowers are blooming and the chemicals are out in full force once again. From herbicides to kill weeds, fertilizers to feed the grass and pesticides to protect your gardening investment from destructive insects, there is no shortage of toxic chemicals in the environment this time of year. Despite what the lawn maintenance companies may tell you, you should be extremely wary of using any of these chemicals in your yard, and should take steps to protect your dogs from exposure to these chemicals. Studies dating as far back as 1987 link pesticides and herbicides to an increase in lymphoma in humans, and a study out of Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine found a significant increase in Transitional Cell Carcinoma (bladder cancer) in Scottish Terriers.
The fact is that most studies assessing the safety of these common lawn chemicals don’t take into account the fact that our dogs are much closer to the ground than humans, they aren’t wearing clothing or shoes to protect their skin and fur from direct contact with the chemicals, and that they are likely to lick their paws after being outside. While exposure to these chemicals is not safe for anyone, our dogs are especially sensitive to their effects.
If your dog has already been diagnosed with cancer, you still have good reason to protect your pooch from these toxins. Any time the body inhales or ingests these chemicals, the body has to process it. The energy that goes into detoxifying the body and expelling these toxins serves to weaken the immune system that should be working to fight the cancer. It’s often hard enough for the body to keep up with processing the chemo drugs that may be helping to prolong your dog’s life — adding extra chemicals to the mix can only make that process harder.
So what can you do to protect your dog from dangerous chemicals this spring?
GO GREEN!: There are many options for natural, non-toxic weed and insect control available. Look for products that contain natural ingredients, look for ways to make the environment less “friendly” to weeds and bugs, or learn to make peace with some of the plants and insects in your yard. Remember, “a weed is simply a plant that wants to grow where people want something else. In blaming nature, people mistake the culprit.”
WIPE PAWS: Any time your dog comes in from outside, whether it’s a walk down the street, in the park, or in the back yard, wipe off your dog’s paws thoroughly to remove any lingering residue. Lawn chemicals can easily travel between yards, especially on a breezy day, so even if you don’t use any products in your yard, one of your neighbors might.
BATHE FREQUENTLY: Just like paws, your dog’s fur can hold a lot of chemical residue and unlike people who can change clothes frequently, our pups have to live every minute in their fur coats. So, wipe your dog down from head to toe regularly, and consider increasing the frequency of baths to reduce the amount of time they’re exposed to these chemicals.
SPREAD THE WORD: I suspected, but never knew exactly how toxic lawn chemicals were until after Georgia was diagnosed with cancer and I came across this information in doing research on lymphoma. I believed the little lawn signs that said that the grass was safe to walk on after a couple of days. Make sure your family, friends and neighbors understand that in their pursuit of a greener, more perfect lawn, they may be compromising their own health and that of their loved ones.
For more information on the links between cancer and lawn chemicals, check out these links:
For ideas on going “green” this spring, check out these sites: