Detoxing. You’ve probably heard of it, maybe you yourself have even done a detox.
Not every detox is a juice cleanse or tea that promises a flat tummy. Detoxes are cyclical. They are a body’s way of processing and maintaining. Mammalian systems go through natural detoxes all the time, but sometimes there is a need for a little assistance. As a dog owner you know that it is not always easy to control what goes in or on our pets. Despite our efforts, dogs seem to find a way to ingest or roll around in some pretty nasty stuff. So what should you do in the event your dog slurps some laundry detergent, or rolls in your neighbor’s fertilizer-heavy petunias?
Some common exposures are:
- Chemical flea/tick treatments
- Deworming medication
- Poor quality foods/food additives
- Moldy Pet Foods
- Preservative, carbohydrate, and additive rich pet-foods
- Unknown allergens
It is not uncommon for your pet to come into contact with one or many of these exposures. It is also difficult for most dog guardians to identify symptoms of toxicity. So, in the event that your dog has been exposed, what are some symptoms and outcomes you’d expect to see?
First off, every potential toxic exposure can result in a different adverse reaction. For example, deworming medication has been shown to induce increased toxicity in certain herding and mixed breed dogs, with symptoms ranging from lethargy to muscle weakness and motor incapacity. Whereas food additives, such as xylitol (resulting in anything from hypoglycemia to liver injury and failure) and grape products (shown to induce kidney failure), have different adverse symptoms.
Some common identifying symptoms of toxicity include:
- Abnormal gait and stance
- Decreased activity
- Changes in body weight and food consumption
- Emesis (vomiting) and change in stools
- Change in shedding patterns
Possibly more important than identifying your dog’s symptoms of toxicity is identifying the source of toxic exposure.
Some sources are easy to identify: If you gave your pet medications/vaccines that resulted in an adverse reaction, you can narrow that to the source.
But some aren’t so easy to identify: Maybe you brought your dog to the park where he was exposed to insecticides. Or perhaps your pet food is moldy, and unless you sent the food out for analytical testing, there is no way to know.
Once symptoms and sources of toxic exposure are identified, dog guardians can work to make a treatment plan. There are certain tests available to help determine levels of certain toxins and minerals within your dog’s hair. Hair tests are often a good way to gauge the long-term effects of diet and toxic exposure.
How to Detox
With every toxic exposure, there is an opportunity to detox. There are many healthy detox and cleanse regimens out there to help aid in your mission toward better canine health, along with detoxifying and cleansing products.
Some natural detoxifiers include:
- Activated charcoal has been used for centuries as a detoxifier. Right now there are tons of food-grade activated charcoal products on the market. Activated charcoal is a good option for a ‘quick fix’. If you know your dog has consumed a toxic substance (i.e. rat poison, cleaning supplies), giving your pet charcoal can help neutralize the toxins and reduce toxicity.
- Probiotics do a lot more than just support digestion. A lot of a dog’s overall health stems from its gut. A lot of allergen and toxic sensitivities in dogs manifest as intolerance, i.e. vomiting and diarrhea. Using a probiotic regimen in your dog cuts off the problem at the source and helps cleanse the gut, reduce incidence of GI dysfunction, improve immune system function, and produce antioxidants.
- Full-spectrum nutrient and mineral supplements help to improve your dog’s overall health and stamina. The healthier the dog, the more capable they are to naturally cleanse and rid their bodies of toxins. Part of a dog’s ability to stay free of toxins also comes from the replacement of toxins and heavy metals with competing healthy nutrients.
- Water is a no brainer. Increasing the amount of water your pet drinks will help to flush its system, nourish its organs, and break up toxin deposits throughout the body.
Limiting Toxic Exposure in the Future
Overall, the best way to limit exposure is being cognizant of potential toxic exposures and risks around your house and yard. If you identify the source, you can cut off the chance for all future exposures. Once the toxins are identified you can establish a low exposure diet and supplement regimen for your dog.
- Dobias, Peter. 2017. Dr. Dobias Natural Healing. [Internet] Accessed 26 Sept 2017. https://peterdobias.com
- Gad, Shayne C. 2007. Animal Models in Toxicology. Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL: pp. 563-662.
- Merck. 2017. Merck Manual: Veterinary Manual. Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ. [Internet] Accessed 25 Sept 2017. http://www.merckvetmanual.com/
Alice Messler is an experienced scientist and Study Director with a demonstrated history in the pharmaceuticals industry. She specializes in canine Toxicology, method development, and scientific writing, and has done extensive research in the field of natural products science, and holistic nutritional chemistry.