Better Nutrition

Good grooming tips

Safe ways to keep your pet looking and smelling sweet

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You probably practice safe grooming on yourself and your kids by using chemical- free shampoos and conditione­rs. But what about your pet?

Unfortunat­ely, many people don’t realize that most mass- market grooming products designed to keep pets clean actually conspire to shorten pets’ lives. Shampoos, conditione­rs, and other petgroomin­g products don’t just contain toxic sulfates, parabens, and phthalates, some also include DMDM hydantoin ( a formaldehy­de releaser), not to mention carcinogen­ic artifi cial colors. Yikes!

I know what you’re probably thinking: How will I ever keep my furry dirt- magnet clean without chemicals? Here’s the good news: It’s surprising­ly easy.

Furry Situations

For starters, make friends with an eff ective dry- cleaning tool such as the FURminator, a product designed to brush away excess animal hair. The scalp stimulatio­n and thorough brushing help to distribute the skin’s natural oils across a pet’s hair shafts, balancing out both dryness and oiliness. This, in turn, simplifi es the shampooing process. At times when it’s less desirable to bathe animals— winter in a very cold climate, for instance— an eff ective dry- grooming routine is a “dogsend.”

Safe Shampooing

When it comes to shampoo, it’s important to select one that’s free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, DMDM hydantoin, chemical colors, and artifi cial fragrances. It’s especially shocking to fi nd sodium laurel sulfate ( SLS) in pet shampoos, as it is the same ingredient used in the dreaded Draize test ( a test administer­ed by some cosmetic companies to induce skin irritation in laboratory animals).

If you have a pet with white fur, be aware that some shampoos designed for white fur contain toxic optical brightener­s for that “blue- white” eff ect. Here’s a simple alternativ­e for dogs: In a plastic bowl, combine 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 1 tsp. of SLS- free dishwashin­g liquid. This is the recipe for deodorizin­g dogs who have been sprayed by a skunk, and its powerful bleaching action brightens white coats. Mix it up fresh each time— this concoction cannot be bottled, or it will explode. Be sure to keep it away from your dog’s eyes, as it can cause serious irritation. Follow up with neem shampoo, so your pet’s skin doesn’t feel itchy after bleaching.

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