Detox, Digestive Health, General Health

A Case for Gentle Daily Detox for Dogs

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Saving Our Pets from Environmental and Internal Toxins

Research reveals that the level of toxins in our pets’ bodies is significantly higher than that in humans. Dogs and cats experience higher exposure to pesticides, herbicides and environmental chemicals, mainly because they have more direct contact with toxins than people do. Indoors, they often chew and lay on chemically treated carpets and floors. They absorb a wide variety of contaminants through their paws, and if they later lick their feet, those contaminants are then absorbed into the body. Detox for dogs and cats is relevant and supports longevity.

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In a study conducted by the non-profit organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), scientists discovered notably high levels of industrial chemicals in America’s pets. Read more details about the study here.


Dogs and cats ingest pollutants in tap water, play on lawns coated with pesticide residue, and inhale both indoor and outdoor air contaminants. Additionally, with their shorter life spans, pets also may develop health problems from these exposures sooner than humans might.


The unique behaviors of domestic pets place them at risk for higher exposure to chemical pollutants, both in the home and outdoors. As pets groom themselves or eat scraps off the floor, they lick off accumulated dust that may be contaminated with various toxins found outdoors and brought in on fur or shoes (or in the air).

Common manmade outdoor toxins:

  • heavy metals
  • fertilizers
  • pesticides
  • PBDE’s – flame retardants used in building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles
  • phthalates – make plastics flexible – ex: drinking water bottles

Common indoor contaminants which can be difficult to avoid:

  • flame-retardant chemicals used in bedding and carpets
  • paints and varnish
  • floor cleaners
  • soap and shampoo
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Not all toxins are manmade. Because dogs like to eat anything they find rotting outside, toxins produced by bacteria are a common cause of disease in our dogs. No matter how careful and responsible you are as a pet owner, your dog can consume dead animal remains or spoiled food in seconds. At the beach, washed up sea life and algae toxins can be extremely poisonous. Other common sources of outdoor toxins include mushrooms and other toxic plants, as well as certain animals and insects that emit toxins, including lizards, toads, and red ants.

Common “natural” toxins:

An extremely toxic compound, aflatoxin, is created by a species of natural molds called Aspergillus sp. These natural, but very dangerous mold toxins represent some of the most damaging compounds known to toxicologists. Small amounts result in acute liver and kidney failure. Exposure to micro-amounts over time results in chronic liver failure, kidney failure, and cancer.

Aflatoxins grow rapidly in stored dog food. This is why dog food manufacturers are always trying to balance preventing mold growth in kibble while at the same time attempting to reduce the amount of preservatives necessary for safety.

Internal toxins accumulate as a result of stress, poor diet, genetics, and chronic organ dysfunction.

When a pet is exposed to a highly toxic compound or a large quantity of toxins, the symptoms are obvious and acute. Veterinary care should be given immediately. But what about chronic exposure to all of the toxins in our environment and in your pet’s food? In most cases, the symptoms are so mild or absent that most pet owners do not recognize the danger and damage to their pet. These toxins build up in the body slowly, poisoning the cells.

A dog’s body, just like our bodies, has a lot of redundancy and can function when exposed to toxins for a long time. Until 90 percent of a dog’s liver is destroyed, very few symptoms are observed. Until 75 to 80 percent of the kidneys are destroyed, no obvious symptoms are observed. This is why progressive holistic veterinarians complete biochemical blood tests on older pets to detect damage before it is too late.

How is dental care important to detox for dogs?

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Take for example dental tartar and gingivitis. When a pet has gingivitis, billions of harmful bacteria are injected into the gums, resulting in chronic exposure to bacterial toxins every day. Most dogs show no symptoms while these bacteria and toxins slowly destroy their kidneys. By the time even blood tests can detect the damage, over 70 percent of the kidneys are destroyed. That is why your veterinarian is so insistent on routine dental cleaning and care.


The major point to take away from this post is this – Chronic, low-grade exposure to toxins is just as dangerous as acute toxicity, but everything happens in such slow motion that the symptoms are usually never observed. They are often mistaken for aging problems.

Such symptoms include:

  • Lethargy and lack of energy
  • Dull, dry hair/coat
  • Arthritis (joint issues)

Slowly these toxins disrupt the normal healthy function of the cells, resulting in internal toxicity, metabolic dysfunction, cellular death, and mutation invisible to the pet owner. Disorders occur like:

  • Kidney failure
  • Liver Disease
  • Cancer

What can I do to support my pet’s health into the future?

  • Provide appropriate exercise for your breed
  • Feed a good quality food
  • Provide clean, filtered water at all times
  • Bathe your dog regularly with natural cleansers to reduce exposure to toxins during self-grooming
  • Vacuum regularly to minimize toxins in the house
  • Choose a gentle, natural daily detoxification program like Daily Detox that utilizes the power of herbs and other beneficial nutrients to provide safe and effective daily support for each of the organs and organ systems involved with detoxification
  • And of course, provide lots of love and attention to your four-legged best friend!
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For much more detailed information about detox for dogs, liver function, and ongoing canine vitality, check out the recent book I wrote with Brenda Watson – Natural Pet Care for Dogs. You’ll also learn excellent tips on feeding, understand the inner workings of your dog’s body, and recognize symptoms of various conditions that can arise as time passes. Awareness and education are the best insurance for your dog’s wellbeing, from puppy time to full maturity.

Dr. Joel Murphy

Director of the Animal & Bird Medical Center of Palm Harbor – dogcatbirdvet.org