We are constantly inundated with toxic insults whether that’s through the food we eat, water we drink, environment, or negative thoughts and stressful emotions such as anxiety, worry, fear, or anger. This also applies to our pets. While they may not have the ability to think and reason as we humans do, they most certainly can be affected by our emotions and behaviors. In fact, studies are starting to show that dogs can actually smell our emotions. Here’s one interesting article supporting this: https://www.cuteness.com/13776515/your-dog-can-smell-when-youre-stressed-out

Many years ago I began my healing journey with health challenges allopathic medicine couldn’t explain or “fix”, leaving me feeling frustrated, confused, and exhausted. While conventional medicine most certainly has it’s place, I started looking elsewhere for answers on how to heal my body naturally. What I’ve discovered along the way has appalled and intrigued me, as a lot of what makes us sick can be avoided with proper knowledge, education, and making healthier lifestyle choices. Our body has this amazing innate ability to heal itself, but we’ve got to provide it with the proper tools to do so. I’ve spent years of trial and error on myself, reading, listening to podcasts, and seeking out the help of others who are much more well versed in this area. This journey naturally led me, as a veterinarian, to wondering how our choices could impact our pets well being and longevity. I am passionate about proactive and preventative care and love sharing this with my pet parents and patients.

Here are some simple ways, I discovered along the way, that we can detoxify and improve the quality of our lives including the lives of our beloved furry family.

1) FOOD: As the old saying goes, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Let’s start here. Doesn’t it make sense that organically sourced whole food is healthier than processed food? This doesn’t just apply to us humans, but our animals, as well. I realize that it may not always be feasible to buy all organic produce, but you could at least try to follow the “Clean 15, Dirty Dozen” guidelines and aim for pasture raised non-GMO meat/eggs. Regarding your pets, you can consider either purchasing a commercially prepared fresh food diet or making a homemade diet. If you make your pet’s food, make sure you do your research to ensure your pet is receiving a well-balanced diet. Consider using resources such as balanceit.com or checking out information (books, online courses, etc.) from well-known integrative and holistic vets. You can even schedule a consultation with a veterinary nutritionist https://www.acvn.org or https//www.petdiets.com. This change alone – a fresh food diet – can have a huge impact on you and your pets health. I know it has mine, as well as many of my clients who’ve chosen to do the same for their pets. If this doesn’t feel appropriate for your lifestyle then at least try to make sure that the kibble you purchase is free from toxins such as Propelyne Glycol, butalayte hydroxyanisole – BHA (a preservative found in processed foods), natural flavors, meat by-products, and high GMO (genetically modified organism) foods such as corn, wheat, or soy. Even a small change such as GRADUALLY adding in toppers to your pets food (i.e. lean meet, veggies, fruit) can have a huge impact on their life overtime. Please keep in mind to avoid toxic foods to pets such as grapes, raisins, onion, macadamia nuts, and chocolate.

2) WATER: Next step is making sure that you and your pet are drinking clean water. Tap water can be contaminated with heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, pharmaceuticals, and much more. Check out https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/ for more info on the contaminates in your local tap water. If at all possible, consider a whole house water filtration system. Our skin is our largest detox organ, as it is our pets, so when we bathe in tap water we are exposing ourselves to absorbing these toxins. I realize that whole house water filtration systems can be pricey and not for everyone so at least look at having some form of filtered drinking water. You can also purchase water filters specifically for your shower.

3) AIR QUALITY: Our environment is another place we can detoxify. Air quality matters! Consider getting a good quality air purifier to help keep impurities such as dust, dander, bacteria, and viruses, to a minimum. I’ve been very happy with my AirDoctor 3000 https://airdoctorpro.com/purifiers. Eliminate synthetic perfumes, colognes, commercial air fresheners (including the wall plug-ins) and scented candles. These contain VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) and even formaldehyde, thus are extremely toxic to us and our pets. I used to love wearing perfume until I realized I was bathing myself in a soup of chemicals! Consider soy based or beeswax candles for a healthier option. You can also find DIY recipes for air fresheners online, but make sure they’re pet friendly. Therapeutic grade essential oils, such as Young Living or Doterra, are another natural and safer resource. However, animals (especially birds and cats) can be extremely sensitive to the oils so make sure you do your research before using them. And remember, a little goes a long way! You can check out the Veterinary Medical Aromatherapy Association, vmaa.vet, for additional information. Another great resource is Dr. Janet Roark, https://essentialoilvet.com/

4) SKIN: Be mindful of what you put on it, including what you wash your clothes and dishes with. Even with more earth friendly products I still use gloves when cleaning to reduce exposure and absorption through my skin. Consider DIY concoctions – some great recipes include white vinegar and baking soda. One of my favorite products is Dr. Bronner’s soap which is so versatile and can be used in many ways. With that being said, think about how much more our animals are exposed. They are basically walking around naked. Be mindful of where you walk and play, paying close attention to recent lawn services applying pesticides and herbicides. If at all possible, avoid these areas or at least bathe your animal afterwards. Also keep in mind that new clothing, furniture, carpet, etc. can contain herbicides, fungicides, and flame retardant chemicals. If possible, wash bedding, clothing, etc. before use.

5) MENTAL/EMOTIONAL HEALTH: As I mentioned earlier, our emotions and behaviors can affect our pets. If we’re stressed they can feel it. This certainly isn’t meant to blame ourselves. Let’s face it, life can be extremely stressful and challenging. Be mindful of what you feed your mind including the news, violent shows, and gossip. Find ways to reduce stress and detoxify your mind. Some favorites of mine are Qigong, Transcendental Meditation (TM), walking in nature, and spending time with close friends and family. Perhaps enjoy a day away from technology and spend quality time with your pet. Take them for a leisurely stroll, allowing them to soak up all the sniffing their heart desires. Studies show sniffing can actually reduce anxiety in your dog: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/is-sniffing-a-dog-s-version-of-social-media/

While I realize we can’t, nor should we, live in a bubble, these are some ways in which we can reduce our toxic burden and create a more vibrant life for ourselves and our beloved pets. Try to practice patience and please don’t let this list overwhelm you – it’s meant to encourage and show others what is possible! Take baby steps, even if you and your pet(s) start by drinking cleaner water. Illness develops over time, so don’t expect it to go away overnight, especially when taking a more natural approach. As I’ve experienced for myself, sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. When the body starts eliminating toxins you may see symptoms such as fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, or body odor, to name a few. I’ve come to realize that life is an ongoing journey, one full of ebbs and flows. While I’m certainly far from perfect, I strive to make the best choices based on what I know not only for myself, but for those that I serve. Empower you and your pets by making healthier choices today!

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