Homeowners are accustomed to giving serious thought to the products they purchase for themselves, particularly when it comes to expensive or everyday use items like mattresses, yet they often don't think twice when buying for their dog or other pets. If you've ever wondered whether it matters what products you buy for the canine or feline member of your family, you may be shocked to learn that your decisions have a far greater impact on your pet's life than most people ever imagine.
As our canine companions settle down to rest near the closest human (or this time of year, in the first sunbeam they can spot), they might be after peaceful sleep, yet they are vulnerable to the same environmental factors as we, their owners. Emerging research is pointing to conclusions that are in many ways no surprise, revealing that our pets are exposed to far more of the same harmful compounds as we are on a daily basis, with dramatic effects. Canine cancer is on the rise, and though the causes have been studied much less than those in humans, evidence suggests that the same hazardous chemicals and environmental stimuli that increase human cancer risks lead to the same effects in our pets.
Canines that reside with smokers, for example, are far more likely to suffer from nasal or lung tumors. Pesticides used on your lawn or garden can cause lymphomas in dogs, largely because our pets not only fail to understand their exposure, but also because they are so much closer to the source than we are. For these reasons, dogs are routinely exposed to much higher levels of common household chemicals than their owners. Dust that proliferates in your home can absorb whatever chemicals are released by cleaning agents and furniture (think flame retardants), which often exhibit carcinogenic and hormone-altering effects. Regular micro-exposures to these toxins can create serious health risks in people over the long term, and your dog is no less vulnerable than you.
Pet beds are, in many ways, even more dangerous than the chemical-laden mattresses sold for humans, as their construction is subjected to far less stringent safety standards. The health-detrimental fire prevention treatments and synthetic fabrics that make up the most affordable (but often most harmful) products in our homes are usually represented to the fullest in economically constructed pet beds, subjecting our dogs and cats to risks that most never consider.
So what is a pet owner to do in the face of such unexpected threats to our canine companions? Here on the Green Blog, we've recently profiled Savvy Rest, a mattress company committed to manufacturing and marketing bedding that is far healthier than most widely-available brands, foregoing chemical-laden synthetic construction for natural latex, wool and cotton. Sustainably harvested in a cruelty-free fashion, these materials display a number of innate benefits, not least of which is the natural fire-resistant nature of wool, which negates the need for flame-retardant chemicals.
Just as the dangerous effects of some bedding can impact pets as much as humans, so too can the beneficial aspects of a natural mattress. With that in mind, Savvy Rest produces the Savvy Doggy bed and Savvy Kitty cat bed, fashioned from the same materials as their human-specific lines. The beds are comprised of natural latex foam, organic cotton, and a zipper, with none of the harmful chemical treatments that could potentially impact the quality of your pet's life, subjecting them to crippling and in many cases preventable health problems.
To many of us, our dogs and cats are no different than any other family member. The next time you set out to choose a product for your pet, remember that the same factors that you consider for yourself can have a far greater impact on one of your most loyal friends, who depends on you as their protector. With careful consideration and research, you can rest assured that the next time your dog begins to wag their tail as they sleep, their dreams are more peaceful (and fun) than you can even imagine.
Hi! I'm Karen Totino, owner of Green Conscience Home. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of our posts, so comment away! One of my goals is to get the community discussing some of these eco topics, and hopefully help each other out!