Neurotoxins and Pet Care Products
Why Not To Use Pet Products With Chemicals
Your family and pets rely on you to keep them safe and comfortable, but you may actually be causing them more harm than good when you use commercial pet products. Are you keeping your pets safe from chemicals? Many pet care products, like collars, sprays, dusts and shampoos, contain chemicals potentially dangerous to you, your children and your pets. These products were initially used by militaries for chemical warfare. Today, governments loosely regulate the commercial use of these dangerous insecticides. Exposing your children, your pets and yourself to these pet products may have serious and long-lasting health consequences.
What Are The Chemicals in Pet Products
The most worrisome are a group of chemicals known as organophosphates – some organophosphate compounds are the most toxic chemicals used in modern agriculture. Organophosphates were first synthesized in the mid 1800s. German scientists originally discussed using this neurotoxin as an insecticide. The German military prevented scientists of that time from exploring insecticidal uses for organophosphate, choosing instead to amass an organophosphate arsenal to be used in chemical warfare. Organophosphates returned to its intended use as an insecticide during WWII.
Manufacturers regularly added organophosphates to pet care products up until the year 2000. Between 2000 and 2007, manufacturers stopped using six of seven types of organophosphates. The final remaining organophosphate, tetrachlorvinphos, interferes with acetylcholinesterase, which is an essential enzyme that controls communication between nerve cells. It kills insects by causing an over-excitation of the nervous system, and can harm or kill cats, dogs and, in extreme cases, humans. Tetrachlorvinphos, used in tick and flea collars, shampoos and powders and other chemical pet products, leave a high amount of residue on your pet’s fur, posing a health risk to anyone who plays with the animal.
Pet product manufacturers also use carbamates. Scientists developed carbamate insecticide in the 1950s. The two most common carbamates are carbaryl and propoxur. Carbaryl presents a relatively low toxicity risk to mammals but it can mix with other elements in the stomach to form potentially cancer-causing chemicals.
Organophosphates can be absorbed through the skin, ingested, inhaled or injected. Organophosphates and carbamates work by interfering with the way the brain and nervous system works in insects. Unfortunately, the brains and nervous systems of humans and pets are similar to those in insects, so chemical insecticides have the same affect on your child or pet as it has on a flea or tick.
What Are The Affects Of Chemicals On Pets
Organophosphates are neurotoxins at high doses. Symptoms appear soon after exposure to the toxin. Oganophosphate exposure can lead to a combination of respiratory symptoms such as a shortness of breath and tightening of the chest. It can also lead to flu like reactions of nausea and vomiting. There may be neurological twitching and dizziness. Complications from exposure to insecticides include copious production of sputum, seizures, weakness and nerve damage. Respiratory failure is the most common cause of death.
Scientists believe even low doses of organophosphates impair cognitive development. Lower doses of organophosphates are used as insecticides intended for external use on pets to get rid of common pests, like ticks and fleas. Scientists are researching the possible connection between exposure to organophosphates early in life and later onset of Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Tetrachlorvinphos is likely a carcinogen.
Animals are at special risk for complications associated with insecticide toxicity because the chemicals are applied directly to the animal’s skin, where it lingers long after application. Children, especially toddlers, are susceptible to exposure to these toxic chemicals. Children, whose neurological systems are still developing, are at increased risk for suffering lifelong effects from exposure to insecticides. Toddlers are more prone to hug and pet dogs and cats. Additionally, small children are more apt to play on carpets or put contaminated objects into their mouths.
How To Protect Your Pets From Chemicals
There are alternatives to chemical insecticides. Wash and comb your pet frequently to safely remove ticks and fleas. Use a flea comb to inspect your pet’s skin closely for signs of infestation. Mow and vacuum the pet’s environment frequently to reduce pests. If you must resort to insecticides to control your pet’s infestation, choose treatment in pill form rather than a topical remedy. Avoid using products containing tetrachlorvinphos, carbaryl and propoxur.
You may be putting your pets, your family and yourself at risk for serious illness when you use dangerous chemicals that are in pet products to control household pests. Read labels carefully, avoid toxic chemicals and follow manufacturer’s instructions. If you feel insecticides have negatively affected a family member or pet, contact your local poison control for immediate help.