More Label Reading?!

Apologies for my enforced absence due to illnesses and deaths in the family as well as work injuries.

Several months ago a family member asked me about sodium laurel sulfates (SLS), which I knew were bad for hair.  My hairdresser had told me sulfates caused hair to be dry, brittle, dull and prone to breakage, and advised me to use sulfate-free products.  I’d never researched the subject further.  When I started researching the effects of SLS, the search extended itself dramatically.

The products which contain SLS commonly contain an alphabet soup of chemicals of questionable safety.  As a pet owner, I am naturally unhappy with products tested on animals.  But it doesn’t stop there–some of the products containing these chemicals are FOR animals.  As pointed out many times on this site, our pets have a shorter life-cycle than their humans, so the effects of harmful substances can occur more quickly and the effects become obvious at a faster rate.  So it stands to reason that if human personal care products can cause health problems, so can pet care products.

The SLS in shampoo, body wash & toothpaste makes it produce more lather, which makes people think it works better.  I encourage you to research the effect of SLS (and the ingredients which usually accompany it) yourself, and read the reports about its effects on humans.  Then read the labels on your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, hand soap, dish liquid and laundry detergent.  I believe you will be as shocked as I was.  Then read the labels on the same products you use on your dog (and in some cases, your cat), and you’ll find the same ingredients.

In my research, I found that because the FDA had neither the budget nor the manpower to police the personal care industry, the manufacturers were asked to police themselves.  If the FDA is too busy to worry about human safety from these products, I don’t imagine they’re worried about the safety of your pet.

The largest organ of most species is the skin.  Personal care products are generally used with warm to hot water, which opens the pores, allowing these chemicals to enter the skin itself.  Toothpaste, of course, is applied directly to teeth surrounded by a mucous membrane, again allowing entry into the body.  Americans in general tend to be zealous about bodily cleanliness, even with their pets.  Many people bathe their dogs weekly, and in the case of the Sphynx (a hairless breed of cat from Canada), a weekly bath is necessary.  These days many pet owners are encouraged to brush their pets’ teeth!

My point is this.  If you truly believe your pet needs to be bathed weekly, make sure the products are safe.  READ THE LABEL!  Just as there are companies making organic, natural soaps and toothpaste for humans, there are safe products for your pet.  If you take your pet to the groomer, ask what product they use and, if necessary, bring your own.  You are your pet’s guardian; it’s up to you to keep him safe from harm.


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