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Just like people, pets also suffer from health effects due to poor indoor air quality. Pets are even more at risk since they are not able to clearly tell you if they are not feeling well. There are things that we may take for granted that can be very dangerous for pets. For example, pet birds should never be allowed in kitchens since their lungs are very sensitive to vapors such as the ones given off by non-stick pans if they overheat. This could be deadly for them.

Health problems of indoor air often show up in animals before they do in people. For example, miners used to take canaries down into the mines with them to give them warning about deadly methane gas. When the canaries would keel over dead, then the miners knew they should get out of the mine right away. Though that is not why people have pets, if health problems are seen in them then there is reason for others in the household to also be concerned. Here are some examples of indoor air concerns as they relate to pets:

<A name=pets-lead></A>Lead

Pets can sometimes provide clues that children may be suffering from lead poisoning because they are more likely than humans to show severe symptoms. In one study, three cases of lead poisoning in children in two different families were discovered after their pets became ill. The children had not shown any signs of illness, but in one family, their dog kept throwing up and losing weight. They found out the dog had lead poisoning so they tested their 1 and 3-year old children who were found to have lead levels 2 to 5 times above the safe limit. The family had renovated their home a few months earlier and the lead came from paint chips from the outside of the house that the children and dog both ate. In the second case, the family's pet cat began vomiting, suffered from sleepiness and had an unsteady gait. When the family found out that their cat had lead poisoning, they also tested their 2-year-old child who had blood lead levels that were 2.4 times too high.

Dogs are the more likely to get lead poisoning than other household pets. The next household pet likely to get lead poisoning are birds who usually get exposed when allowed to fly around the house where they begin pecking at walls painted with lead paint. Very small amounts of lead can kill small birds because of their size. Other pets that have gotten lead poisoning include cats, rabbits and iguanas.<SUP> </SUP>The reason dogs are more likely to get lead poisoning is that they are more likely to chew on things that may contain lead such as:
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Lead based paint: especially in old homes or homes that are being remodeled or renovated. Be sure that all the lead chips and dust is cleaned up after these activities. One cat diagnosed with lead poisoning had licked its paws that were covered with paint chips or dust.
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Lead curtain weights at the bottom of draperies: remove these until young pets are past the chewing phase.
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Lead fishing weights: again do not leave these lying around where curious puppies or kittens may play with them.
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Lead solder inside electronic equipment such as VCRs, remotes, and stereo components. Keep electronic equipment out of reach of curious pets. </LI>[/list]


Some of the health problems that may be seen in a pet suffering from lead poisoning include:
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Upset stomach and stomach pain
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Lack of appetite
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Vomiting
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Diarrhea
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Blood in feces
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Inability to sleep
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Depression
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Hysterical barking (especially a problem if your pet is not a dog)
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Seizures with champing fits (check lead levels before suspecting epilepsy)
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Blindness (rare)
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Death (if not treated) </LI>[/list]


The blood test for pets is the same as the one for humans but at about 1/5<SUP>th</SUP> the cost. Usually lead poisoning in dogs is treated with a drug called succimer, which has shown to be effective in lowering blood lead levels.

<A name=pets-ets></A>Tobacco smoke

There have been studies that have found both lung and nasal cancer in dogs that live in homes where they are exposed to tobacco smoke.

<A name=pets-pesticides></A>Pesticides

Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill pests. Some of them have also been found to be harmful to pets as well. For example, some insecticides have been found to cause bladder cancer in dogs. Another study showed a relationship between herbicide lawn care products and malignant lymphoma in dogs.<SUP>9</SUP> These are on top of the pesticides that pet owners may put on their pets to repel fleas and ticks. You should avoid using flea collars that contain pesticides since these release a constant, low-level of a toxic substance to your pet. If you do use them, only do so during times when there is a bad flea or tick problem.

It is important that you do all you can to prevent these problems so that these pesticides do not need to be used. Here are some of the things you can do:
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Vacuum your home frequently (every day, at the beginning of flea season). Pay particular attention to edges near walls. After vacuuming, remove, seal, and dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag outside of the home and away from pets as soon as possible.
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Steam clean the carpet every so often. This kills adult fleas, the larvae and some eggs. The heat will trigger some of the eggs to hatch, so be prepared to vacuum soon after steam cleaning.
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Clean pet bedding regularly. If possible, wash it in hot water. To help in repelling fleas and ticks from your pet, scatter pine needles, fennel, rye or rosemary on your pet's bed.
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Apply a dusting of diatomaceous earth or silica gel to pet bedding, under furniture and around the house's foundation. This dehydrates adult fleas.
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If you choose to use chemicals, consider using methoprene, which is an insect growth regulator (IRG). These products interrupt the reproductive cycle of fleas and prevent the flea larvae from maturing. These are not as toxic as some other products designed to kill adult fleas. IGRs do not work outside since they breakdown in ultraviolet light that is given off by sunlight.
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Of the products used to kill adult fleas, the least toxic are pyrethrin-based. However, be careful since pyrethrins are often mixed with ingredients that are more toxic.
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Use a flea comb to remove fleas from pets—especially cats that hate baths! Drop fleas into soapy water.
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Wash your pet with insecticidal flea soap, a pyrethrin/methoprene flea shampoo, or a citrus oil shampoo or dip containing limonene or linalool. Pyrethrum powders can be used directly on pets. Avoid getting powder into their eyes, nose, or mouth. If you are using a powder, use only when necessary. Keep in mind that cats will ingest some when they clean themselves so you do not want to overdo it.
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Food additives: Even though these have not been proven, many pet owners find them helpful. Check with your vet on the correct amount to give your pet if you choose to do this. These include brewer's yeast, vitamin B, and fresh garlic.
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Natural flea repellents include eucalyptus, citronella, cedar wood, pennyroyal, and black walnut leaves. These may be found in "essential oil" flea dips or herbal flea collars. Herbal repellents are most useful once the flea population is under control.
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Spray insecticidal soap outdoors in areas where fleas are concentrated. A walk with white socks will reveal those parts of the yard. </LI>[/list]


<A name=pets-co></A>Carbon monoxide

Because of their smaller lung capacities, pets are often among the first to be affected by carbon monoxide.

<A name=pets-asbestos></A>Asbestos

As with other hazards, health problems began being seen in animals before researchers knew there was a problem with those exposures in humans. In 1931, researchers noticed that a dog that lived in an asbestos factory developed asbestosis.<SUP>10</SUP> Some asbestos workers used to wear their asbestos-covered clothes home. There have been many cases of the spouses of these workers developing asbestos-related diseases from handling these clothes. However, their pets were also at risk. One researcher showed that dogs that live in a home where somebody had an asbestos-related occupation or hobby were at risk of developing an asbestos-related cancer such a mesothelioma.

<A name=pets-combustion></A>Combustion Pollutants

In a study of pet owners from 1989 through 1993, researchers found that there was a much higher chance of pet dogs getting sinus cancers in homes where there were coal or kerosene heaters.

<A name=pets-substitutes></A>Substitutes for other chemicals
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If you are trying to keep cats or dogs out of your yard: Blend 3 cloves garlic, 4 hot red peppers, and a few drops of detergent in water. Mix into a bucket of water and sprinkle the solution around the edges of your yard.
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If your pet gets sprayed by a skunk (also good for urine/fecal stains): Mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap together and use immediately. The chemical reaction produced from these ingredients lasts only a limited time.
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For deodorizing litter boxes: Sprinkle litter box with baking soda before adding kitty litter
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If your pet accidentally urinates on the carpet: Soak up as much moisture as you can, right away, with paper towels. Then sprinkle a mix of 1 part borax to 2 parts cornmeal on the spot and vacuum up after 1 or 2 hours. To discourage your pet from soiling the area again, sprinkle it with dried pennyroyal.
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To keep your cats from clawing furniture:
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Purchase a scratching post or make one from carpet scraps.
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Rub the herb rue on upholstery they claw. Rue is a bitter herb that cats hate.
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Avoid deterrent products that contain paradichlorobenzene since there is evidence that it causes cancer in laboratory animals </LI>[/list]</LI>[/list]


<A name=pets-allergies></A>Allergies

Animals, like people, suffer from allergies and cases of asthma have been seen in some cats. Allergens are substances such as pollen, mold spores, and certain foods to which the pet's immune system has an abnormal reaction. Other things pets may be allergic to include dust mites and fleas.

The most common signs of allergies are:
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Scratching
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Face rubbing
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Biting and chewing at the skin
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Excessive licking of the paws </LI>[/list]


The first year the signs may be mild and barely noticeable. It is only with repeated exposures to the offending allergens that the signs become more obvious. It is also important to remember that these signs can be caused by non-allergy health problems as well. The only way to know for sure is to have a complete medical exam done by your vet with possible allergy testing. Allergy testing in pets is done by a RAST test, because skin testing is not possible in fur-covered pets.

Most allergies are inherited so there may not be any way to prevent them, but allergies can be controlled. The best control is to avoid contact with the offending allergens. For example, if your pet is allergic to fleas, it is essential to prevent flea infestation. For those allergens that are almost impossible to avoid like dust and dust mites, then some kind of treatment is needed. Treatment is similar to that used with people: antihistamines and possibly allergy shots. In addition, there are certain diets that help reduce symptoms in allergic pets. Often these are fish-based products, both prescriptive and non-prescriptive.

<A name=pets-decorations></A>Decorating for pets

There are certain home decorations that are better for indoor air as well as pet friendly. Here are some suggestions:
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Avoid textured wallcoverings, especially if you have a cat. These coverings, like grass cloth and nubby fabrics, act as fleecy materials that can hold and later release indoor air pollutants. For cats, these types of wallcoverings are invitations for them to come and scratch away. A painted surface is much better for cat owners. Just be sure to use lead-free, low-VOC paint.
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Leather furniture is good since it can easily be cleaned of dust and dirt. In addition, if an animal punctures it, it will not tear.
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The best kinds of floors to have are slate, granite, or limestone in heavy traffic areas. These materials are easy to clean and do not emit hazardous vapors. Marble, however, is porous and might stain. Soft pine floors may get gouged up if you have a large dog. </LI>[/list]


Source: Aerias
 
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