Top Five Tips for Reducing Stress In Your Dog

16th August 2023 8 min read

Guest Blog: Anna Webb

There are many toxins in our surroundings which can negatively impact your dogs health and mental wellbeing. Anna explains what these are and 5 top tips on how to create a safe environment for your furry best friend.

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Environmental Stressors

The term ’environmental stressors’ refers to a toxic or emotional contagion in your surroundings that accumulates over time to impact negatively on health and mental well-being.

In our modern world living with such ‘stressors’ is ubiquitous. Every day we absorb a raft of chemicals from the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink.

We think of plastics in the sea, landfill sites, car exhausts, and even the skull and crossbones symbol on solutions stored in the garage.

We often don’t think that possibly a more insidious form of polluting stressors are invisibly permeating our homes and our gardens.

Interestingly science concurs that the ‘Building Biology’ of indoor environments are three and half times more ‘toxic than outdoors, yet we all spend around 90% of our time indoors, and that includes our dogs!

These toxins accumulate overtime they’re stored in almost every tissue, including our fat, skeletal muscles, joints, in organs, and in the brain., its known as the ‘Body Burden’.

Despite a raft of science concurring the dangers to health of synthetic chemicals, regulation still falls short, in manufacture of plastics, synthetic bedding, cosmetics, dry cleaning, household cleaning products, perfumes, air fresheners, and flame-retardant chemicals found in furnishings.

Scented products like candles, air fresheners, cleaning products, perfumes, cosmetics commonly contain Phthalates, which are chemicals that help the scent last longer.

Studies show that around 75% of products that have a fragrance contain Phthalates, known as endocrine disruptors, that can exacerbate allergic symptoms, respiratory conditions, even alter hormone levels.

As candles burn or air fresheners release odours, phthalates evaporate into the air releasing chemical particles. These are called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

These chemical particles become heavy and fall to the ground turning into dust that’s easily inhaled as your dog goes sniffing around with their immense olfactory systems.

Coupled with the sensitivity of their noses, any odour we can small, like a scented candle, will be amplified by approximately one million times, blasting and offending a dog’s sensory system.

With faster metabolisms than us, dogs absorb these dust particles very efficiently through their lungs and into their bloodstream.

In your garden many toxic chemicals, not least Organophosphates, are found in commercially available slug pellets, weed killers, lawn treatments.

These are a group of human-made chemicals that poison insects and mammals. They’re the most widely available insecticides often used in agriculture, the home, in gardens, and remarkably in veterinary practice.

Many health conditions associated with the absorption of synthetic chemicals include disrupting the endocrine system, affecting the hormonal systems, to distorting glucose modulation, even causing cancers.

Inhaling, digesting or absorbing chemicals through the skin, it’ easy to see how overtime can insidiously invade our cellular system. Remarkably there’s still no regulation in the UK to list such chemicals associated with fragrance on products in the pet sector, including wipes, shampoos, fragrances and balms.

The naturopathic way is to balance the onslaught of chemical stressors through diet, supplements, and making alternative choices. This includes opting for vintage furniture without flame retardant chemicals in their manufacture!

In a bid to reduce the global challenge of chemical contamination in households, ironically our pets are sentinels, or bioindicators to monitor risk assessment to enable legislative change by global Environmental Protection Agencies.

Top Tips

  • Balance the toxic effects on the immune systems from synthetic chemical absorption by optimising a fresh, wholefood, species-appropriate diet that counters disease, reduces inflammation and boosts positive cellular expression, whilst promoting the health and efficacity of the microbiome (where 90% of the immune systems resides).
  • Opt for natural skincare and grooming products for your dog like Sniffe and Likkit. Priding itself on its transparency and all-natural ingredients, setting standards that combine aromatherapeutic fragrances like Cedarwood, Petitgrain and Juniper in contrast to some commercially available or prescribed shampoos, which can harbour many undefined chemical agents.
  • Choose plant-based household cleaning products and washing detergents or, better still, investigate the power of using Probiotics to not just naturally clean your home, but offer alternatives for topical ear, eye and dental care for your dog. I’ve been using the range of products offered by Ingeniuous Probiotics for several months. This includes cleaning my floors with probiotics to cleaning both my dog’s ears and daily dental care. With a host of probiotic alternatives available from washing up liquid, detergents, floor cleaners and shampoos, Ingenious Probiotics is helping people and their pets breathe safely indoors!
  • Choose vintage furniture and natural cloth bedding for your dog, without synthetic fibers to emit VOC’s, think creatively to use old untreated fabrics to cover modern sofas, reducing the risk of PBDE’s emitting from flame retardant chemicals in furnishings. Opt for untreated wool or cotton rugs, bed linen even cushion covers!
  • Don’t underestimate the potential of a high-powered vacuum cleaner with a pointy nozzle attachment to suck up dust in crevices. Regular vacuuming and ventilation can improve your home’s ‘building biology’ by over 50%.
  • Treat your garden with the age-old natural insecticide and pesticide known as Diatomaceous Earth. A way more cost-effective solution for the garden and one that’s natural and non-toxic. Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized water plants and is a naturally occurring siliceous sedimentary mineral compound from the remains of algae-like plants called diatoms. It works by suffocating or de-hydrating pesky bugs, and even kills slugs. It’s also a preventative solution by digging into the soil. Organic Farmers embrace its potential in lieu of chemicals. I use the ‘human-grade edible’ variety all over my garden. Avoid inhalation, but once it’s settled into the ground it’s completely safe and an underestimated natural resource!

Anna Webb with Prudence and Sniffe and Likkit Bamboo Towel

Anna Webb – Canine Nutrition and Behaviour expert, Anna combines her psychology degree, with study at the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT) and over 20 years of experience. Host of the award-nominated A DOG’S LIFE podcast, she lives in London, and is owned by Prudence, a Miniature Bull Terrier and Mr Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier.

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