What do you use in the home?

Environmental sensitivities are often overlooked in favour of food intolerances, and yet they can cause many of the same symptoms – itching, hair loss, eye irritation, ear infections and respiratory issues.On receipt of the intolerance and sensitivity testing results, we are finding that many people discard the environmental reactions as not important, and only address the food issues. Doing so, is a huge mistake. If your dog lives in a home surrounded by chemicals, they have no way of avoiding them, leaving them uncomfortable and distressed.

Pollution starts in the Home
When we talk to people about environmental reactions, they immediately think of pollens and exhaust fumes, but rarely do they consider the impact of the products and choices that they make in their own home. In fact, many of the toxic chemicals that we come into contact with are not from the outside, but from inside your own home. At let’s face it, most of our animals spend most of the day inside, probably far more than we do.As a society, we have become obsessed with hygiene and cleanliness, and this obsession has fuelled companies to produce ever more toxic cleaning products to tackle any number of perceived threats to human and animal health. Many of these cleaning products contain cancer causing substances, central nervous system disrupters, hormone disrupting chemicals, toxins that affect the reproductive system and they can even alter brain function. This obsession with cleaning extends to bathing our dogs and keeping them clean, with shampoos and anti-odour sprays sold in every supermarket and pet shop. In reality, we are rubbing these chemicals into the skin of our animals, causing skin irritation and allowing chemicals to access the body directly through the skin. We are using toxic ingredients to simply wash away dirt.Then we fill our homes with the latest furniture, new carpets, flooring, mattresses etc. and yet what many don’t realise is that these new items continually give off a chemical called formaldehyde, which has been shown to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and can cause skin and respiratory reactions.After all that cleaning, decorating and new furnishings, we then want to make our homes smell less ‘doggy’ and so we purchase an ever growing number of perfumed products – scented candles, air fresheners, plug-in fresheners, fragranced powder for carpets and furnishings, scented sachets, fragranced laundry products, tumble dryer sheets and the list goes on. Again, these have a huge list of possible reactions, including skin, respiratory and nervous system symptoms, simply from inhaling these air-borne molecules.
Effects on your animals
The number one cause of skin irritation is due to laundry products. The shelves in supermarkets are filled with an ever-growing range of biological and non-biological powders, liquids, capsules etc. and a similar number of fabric conditioners and tumble dryer fragrance sheets. This is an interesting subject, because we use these products to ‘sterilise’ and ‘clean’ our garments and yet one of their main ingredients in is actually derived from toxic petroleum waste materials! Laundry products contain a toxic mix of chemicals and irritants that are constantly in contact with your dog’s skin when lying on their beds, throws on the sofas, when laying on your knee (and directly on your clothes) and wearing their lovely winter coats. Also consider this, these chemicals es do not need to come in direct contact to irritate the skin! Research shows that inhaling these chemicals can not only cause skin and respiratory issues but can result in long-term effects on the brain, affecting mood and changing electrical activity. It can cause restlessness, depression and anxiety in your dog Washing your dog in scented shampoos, not only can be a direct skin irritant but by applying these products to your dog’s skin, they are able to cross penetrate the skin barrier and can cause liver and kidney toxicity. They have even been shown to change the colour of internal organs! Scary!Air fresheners are regularly used by dog owners because of the ‘doggy’ smell. However, many air fresheners do not ‘freshen’ the home, in fact they do the exact opposite. They fill your home with chemical pollutants, which you and your animals are continuously breathing in. Some will just work to cover up the doggy smell with a much stronger, but chemical, fragrance. However, many of these fresheners actually work by lining the nasal passages with a thin film, undetectable to us and our animals, that prevents us smelling doggy odour or they work directly on the olfactory nerves (your ability to smell), deadening their ability to detect odours. The current trend to use these fresheners means that our dogs get little break from exposure to these toxic chemicals. Sadly, many companies even test these fragrances on animals, and these horrific experiments have shown that they may even impair the body’s skin defences, leading to skin irritation and weakening their first line of defence against pathogens.Cleaning products work very similarly to the cleansers that we use as humans to wash ourselves or use as shampoo on our dogs. However, they are made at far greater concentration and strength. Ingredients are usually a mix of detergents, solvents (used for cutting through grease), disinfectants such as bleach, ammonia etc, preservatives, colourings and artificial fragrances (to cover up the strong smell of chemicals). Many of these ingredients can be absorbed directly through the skin, hence why many of them have labels stating to use rubber gloves when using. Causing not only contact skin rashes but also liver and kidney issues, nervous system disorders and even birth defects. So when your pet is laid on your newly cleaned kitchen floor, they are particularly at risk. In addition, inhaling these chemicals can lead to headaches, nausea and respiratory problems.
Lowering the Toxic Load & Alternatives
Some of the symptoms that are linked to the use of toxic chemicals in your home are cancer, respiratory issues, watery, itchy eyes, skin problems, depression, fatigue and behavioural changes. If you notice any of these issues in your household animals, then pollution in your home could be, at least partially, the cause. Of course, as with any health symptoms, always contact your vet if you are at all worried.Your first step to reducing pollution in your home is to replace all of your products with chemical-free alternatives, that use limited ingredients, that are known to be safe for you and your animals. Don’t fall for the myth that chemical cleaners are better at cleaning and disinfecting than natural, they are not.We’ve listed a few easy steps below to reduce the pollutants in your home:· Open your windows whenever you can. Sealing in your home, is great to prevent heat loss but it also seals in smells.· Buy air-purifying house plants, such as aloe vera, spider plants, peace lillies, bamboo plants and philodendrons. These help to remove toxins, gases and odours from your home.· Be very careful about any air freshener products you use. Many commercially available products will use advertising to try and give the impression that products are natural and use terms such as “natural aromas”, “natural” or “aromatherapy”. There is no legal definition of natural and many manufacturers will use any of these words to describe any molecule that contains carbon (basically everything on earth has carbon in it – it’s the cornerstone of life itself) even when the molecules are toxic. · You may decide to go for fragrance-free products, but here again, you could fall foul of wording. Whilst these products may not have perfumes directly added to them, they will still often contain raw ingredients of perfumes, used to mask the strong chemical smell of the main ingredients.· Also be careful when buying shampoo or grooming products for your pets. Just because they are advertised as ‘hypoallergenic’ does not automatically make them ok. The word actually means ‘lower known allergens’ but here is the crucial part, there is no legal definition of an allergen and no legal guidelines for the production of so-called hypoallergenic products.· Replace air fresheners, scented candles, cleaning products, laundry products and dog shampoos with well-known and trusted safe alternatives. BB Herbal make their own range of air freshener sprays, gel beads, cleaning products and shampoo that you can trust to be safe for your animals and chemical free. You can find them here on the link further down. · Clean with hot water and steam – these can be very effective options.· Use soapnuts for washing laundry, available from BB Herbal.· Also consider the products that you are using on yourself whilst your pets are around. For examples, perfumes, hair sprays, aerosol deodorants etc. can all be irritant to your pets. There are lots of natural alternatives available online, one of the best websites for chemical-free human personal products is LoveLula.· Additionally, you can try and make some of your own cleaning products. We’ve popped a few of ours below and some simple recipes for you:

Furbreez, can be used to freshen pets’ coats, bedding, car seats, carpets and furnishings.

Dry shampoo can be used to freshen pets’ coats, bedding, car seats, carpets and furnishings.
Diffusers for electric and reed diffusers.
Natural plug ins
For a full range of natural products for your home click the link below,

Room Freshener
Mix 10-15 drops of essential oil into about 200g of baking soda and pop into a dish to help cut through everyday odours. Or pop a few cotton wool balls into a dish. Both of these are great short-term options, but you will probably need to keep freshening them every couple of days.
Cleaning Spray
Combine equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and add 20 drops of essential oils.
Simple Furniture Polish
Fill a bottle about two-thirds full with an oil of your choice, olive oil works well. Top the bottle up with white vinegar and add about 25 drops of essential oil. Shake well and only use a small amount, applying with a soft cloth. Buff off with a second clean cloth to prevent build-up.
Bicarbonate of soda sprinkled on carpets/rugs overnight will remove odours, add 10 drops of your favourite therapeutic grade essential oil too. Ensure animals are kept away from these areas until you have hoovered the following day
Fabulous for laundry or those that want to make their own cleaning products, therapeutic grade essential oils can be added for fragrance