Seasonal dangers for our companion animals
Original post: July 23, 2010
The holiday season brings with it a higher risk of poisoning, toxicity and irresistible traps for our unsuspecting pets. The common intoxicants of the season include chocolate, alcoholic beverages, holly berries and other plants like poinsettias. Tinsel is another common danger which can wreak havoc in the intestinal tract. The attractively lit up
Christmas tree is full of harmful traps from the electrical cords which can ensnare your cat or dog or be chewed to charge your precious pet with holiday voltage. Most of us have heard about these dangers over again each year: theobromine in chocolate can induce heart failure; if eaten abundantly enough, holly berries can kill; and mistletoe can cause serious gastrointestinal disturbances.
Aside from these added seasonal risks, each day in our pet’s life is challenged by potential toxicity in the form of carelessly stored prescription drugs, antifreeze, pesticides and even fruit bowls with grapes. However, if we take a broader look at our environment we’ll find that irritants and toxins are even more prolific than these mentioned concerns and our pets more exposed all year round to common household chemicals.
In fact, the winter holiday season can also intensify all of these less obvious risks. However, we can take better control of our pets’ health by improving their nutritional status and empowering them with inbuilt protection against these chemical assaults. Skin health is an indicator of how well prepared our pets are to tolerate these irritants and poisons and our pet’s skin and coat is often a good barometer for inner health.
The rate of skin disease in our pets will continue to rise and the cause is nutritional imbalance wedded to ever-increasing pollution. Pollution is only one of two major factors in the equation. The answer to this problem isn’t a tightly insulated home either, in which we should barricade our pets. In fact, reports convey that our homes might be as toxic as our workplaces and the outdoor air and this sheds some light on why skin and coat problems can become prolific in those winter months. Long term exposure to these less obvious irritants can also increase the risk for cancer and other ailments which appear to surface suddenly but more likely fester for long periods before becoming evident.
Combustion products from stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, and cigarette smoke are major sources of carcinogenic and irritating pollution. Other household irritants include mites, pollen, and molds, as well as organics from paint, glues, adhesives, asbestos, cleaning agents, pesticides, disinfectants, and deodorizers. Surveys show that North American adults spend about 90% of their time indoors and unfortunately our pets follow similar patterns in the winter months when weather conditions may further reduce outdoor excursions.
As much as changes in humidity and exposure to these pollutants from our new age technologies are to blame for these increased skin reactions the manifestation also involves biochemical activity from within our pet’s cells that we have some control over. Our pets’ diet dictates this cellular activity and mild changes in the diet can reduce the risk to poison exposure and the frequency, as well as the intensity of skin and coat problems.
Step one to improving skin health and tolerance to hidden toxins- Improve the diet. Remove sources of oxidized fatty acids from the diet such as those common to processed foods. A move to fresher whole sources of nutrition helps improve cellular balance improving tolerance to allergens and illness. Just like you and me, our pets have a certain level of general inflammation that simmers in their cells – subclinical inflammation. Tolerance to poisons and illness is closely related to this underlying inflammation. A higher subclinical level may never be felt but it lowers tolerance to these triggers or allergens. Abundant consumption of processed foods can advance this festering to reduce tolerance to irritants which could otherwise never elicit a reaction on their own.
The home is full of these irritants and our cats and dogs are not designed from an evolutionary standpoint to withstand the assault. Some animals tolerate processed foods and potential irritants better than others and for longer in their lives than some animals. However, even in these animals, the elimination of this underlying metabolic strain allows for a spontaneous improvement in skin and coat health in just days. This usually indicates that an improvement in general health and resilience to illness and premature aging.
Step two to improving skin health and tolerance to hidden toxins- – Improve cellular fatty acid balance. Supplement this new whole food nutrition with an animal specific ratio of omega- 3 to omega-6 fatty acids to restore a neutral inflammatory response in the cells. These special fatty acids are used by the cells to manufacture hormones involved in regulating inflammation. If the food sources and fatty acid balance are insufficient, the hormone balance produced from the fatty acid precursors can be dysfunctional. This dysfunction typically contributes to inflammation, skin disease and allergies; it sets up a sensitive trigger to the irritant. Supplementation with the right fatty acid blend to offset this imbalance helps improve tolerance and restore health.
The fatty acid supplement for cats and dogs must be carefully proportioned offering a precise ratio between non-essential omega-3 and essential omega-6 and then again a precise proportion of the omega-3 DHA and EPA fatty acids. Supplementing with fish oils alone for their non- essential DHA and EPA contents will only serve as a Band-aid for the problem providing temporary relief. The fatty acid requirements for humans are again, different from the needs of our pets and human-intended products will not deliver the best result for our pets.
Step three to improving skin health and tolerance to hidden toxins that pose as allergens- Regain control over allergies. Many natural bioflavonoids have anti-histamine-like activity and can be used to intercept seasonal allergies. A natural antihistamine preparation can provide immediate relief if it’s formulated correctly. Most cases of skin disease respond well to this dual nutritional product approach – natural antihistamine and fatty acid application – to eliminate the need for drugs even in those more difficult cases.
By providing a means by which inflammation can be controlled spontaneously, allergies are easier to deal with as are related skin and coat problems. This balance also improves tolerance to common toxins and irritants which can lead to other illnesses. A correctly proportioned fatty acid supplement can help even the most sensitive animals cope with those hidden indoor irritants. If the condition is a full blown allergy which requires a more powerful approach, the addition of a natural antihistamine to the fatty acid protocol may be required to relieve the problem if one is not able to pinpoint and remove the irritant or allergen.