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How Do Toxins Affect Your Pet?
Toxicity is an underrated problem with respect to our companion animals. Our pets are exposed to toxins every day in the form of vehicle exhaust, industry emissions, exposure to second hand smoke and food contaminants, and through additives in the form of dyes, aflatoxins, and preservatives. Pesticides in the environment as well as flea, tick, and heartworm preparations, and common drugs such as anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS), are also culprits.¹
Toxins enter the body via a number of convenient pathways; through the lungs when breathing, through the skin by contact, or through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the food and drink consumed by your pet. The toxins are then metabolically processed by the three major organs of detoxification; the liver, the lungs and the kidneys, so that they can be excreted from the body with other waste material. Unfortunately many toxins are stored in the cells of the animal’s body due to toxic overload and can compromise their immune system function. Toxins can interfere with the normal biochemical pathways necessary for healthy bodily functions. Symptoms of a "toxic state" may include skin disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, arthritis, intestinal disease, neurological disease and behavioural problems.
The Importance of the Liver and Kidneys
The liver is the primary organ of detoxification in both humans and animals. It is responsible for filtering and cleansing toxins, herbs and drugs from the body. In addition the liver produces bile, which helps your dog or cat digest its food; supports healthy hormone and neurological function and affects skin and coat health.
The primary function of the kidneys is to filter and remove toxic waste products from the body via the blood and then return the cleaned blood back into the body. Kidneys that are compromised due to toxic overload or illness will certainly have reduced function and will not be able to filter waste products and toxins as efficiently. Over time, or as in the case of the contaminated pet food incident in early 2007, the kidneys and liver can become severely damaged leading to serious illness or even death.
The Importance of Detoxification
Have you ever washed greasy dishes without hot water or dish soap? The dishes don't get clean, do they? When toxic metals and chemical food additives get inside the body, it has to be cleansed from the inside out. A combination of herbs and antioxidants gently remove toxins from body tissues, organs, water stores, fat deposits, and within the bloodstream. When toxins are present within the body, oxygen and the body's "food supply" cannot get inside the cells to supply needed nutrients, nor can the cells' waste products get out. In this context, diseases such as cancer now have an environment in which to form. When these body toxins are removed, the body can then restore a healthy balance.
The Health Benefits of a Cleanse or Detoxification
In the same way that most humans will benefit from organ detoxification at least twice a year, your cat or dog may benefit from detoxifying the kidneys and liver also. A gentle but thorough natural approach is easy on the body and stimulates the organs of elimination to improve their efficiency, and help rid the body of a buildup of toxins. Cleansing is very effective in restoring optimum health by improving thyroid and liver function, assisting digestive processes, boosting metabolism and improving energy levels. Subsequently your pet will look and feel healthier. Look for cleanses that include balanced ingredients (to prevent unwanted side effects) such as herbs used in Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine to help loosen and expel trapped pollutants. Be sure to use products that have been proven safe for animals to prevent unwanted side effects. Omega Alpha’s Liver Tone™ features herbs such as Milk Thistle, Burdock and Dandelion, commonly used by people for thousands of years to detoxify and tone the liver. These herbs can safely be ingested by your pets. Kidney Tone™ features herbs such as Uva ursi, Corn silk and Horsetail for improved kidney function. Each herb is used for its synergistic effect for a safe and effective kidney cleanse.
Diet and Exercise
When helping your pet eliminate toxins it is imperative to examine lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. Many people feed their pets commercially produced food, which typically contains chemical substances that can negatively affect your pet’s health, particularly in the long-term. The growing trend today is to feed human grade foods that are fresh and organic. If this is not an option, there are a growing number of manufacturers that are advertising organic foods in a bag. Remember as a general rule, the more expensive the food, the better quality you will get. Just as we need to eat a range of foods to ensure optimum health, so do our pets. Raw foods for instance contain many essential nutrients and minerals that may be destroyed by cooking and processing. Furthermore, a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to a sluggish metabolism, which will ultimately adversely affect toxin removal from the body. With the right nutrition, environment, and supplementation, we can all give our pets the benefits of a healthy, happy life.
With over 10 years experience in the holistic health field, Joanne Carr R.H.N., B.A., is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who has lectured at natural health product seminars for retailers and consumers across Canada. She also contributes to various natural health publications.