By Tracie Korol
Imagine this: You’ve just crawled into your comfy bed, punched up the pillow to “just right”, and then realize something is not right. Someone has sprayed your bed with Round-Up. The sheets are damp, now your pajamas are damp and the smell is about to knock you over. You begin to itch all over.
Welcome to Dog World. This scenario happens to our pets all the time. Every day they play on, lie on, sleep on lawns that have been treated with deadly chemicals. They’re on the grass in public parks, they’re on the lush green spaces in our gated communities, they are living on top of chemicals sprayed willy-nilly out in the country where I live. Dogs play, sleep, roll around in and even eat treated grass. We track the chemicals into our homes on our shoes so it creates a residue on our floors and carpets. When you live only a few inches above ground level, you never escape the effects. It is well documented that long-term exposure to herbicides causes myriad health problems in humans. It causes myriad health problems in dogs, too.
In first world countries, the most common causes of kidney failure are obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. But sugar cane workers in Central America and Sri Lanka who have been dying from “Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown etiology” (CKDu) for decades, do not generally have those risk factors. This has led scientists to suspect an external toxin as a possible cause. What chemical has the most widespread use in these areas? Round-Up. A Round-up “drench” is used to “ripen” sugar cane. (Nicaragua and Sri Lanka have recently banned the use of the chemical as has most of Europe.) Other independent studies worldwide have also linked the use of Round Up to celiac disease. Symptoms include diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia, depression as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. What is sprayed on U.S. wheat fields? What do we spray on our yards and roadways? And what diseases are our dogs developing? It’s a simple equation.
The smart thing to do is to limit exposing your dog to grassy fields or weed patches in your community that have recently been sprayed or are routinely sprayed. Certainly, do not intentionally use these chemicals around your house. That would be the common sense approach. Sadly though, we do not always have control over what is sprayed in our neighborhoods. Once again, in my end of the county, and again without warning, SCE&G and NaturChem hosed acres of public and private land with a chemical cocktail of Ecomazapyr, glyphosate and a mystery surfactant. Officials of these companies claim it is “so safe you can drink it” (really, they said that). Earlier this spring, county maintenance hosed all the roadsides. Take a drive up through Sheldon this weekend and see what dead-on-dead looks like. You and your kids will be breathing the overspray. So will your dogs. Your kids and your dogs will be playing on or near areas that are in the process of dying.
While controlling your yard with chemicals may seems like an easy way to get the green lawn your neighbors envy, it’s not worth the risk of poisoning your Best Friend. Rinse your dog’s feet after exercising on a treated lawn. Rinse any fetch toys she may have played with on the lawn, too. Of course, call your veterinarian immediately if your dog ever shows signs of illness following exposure to treated grassy fields.
It has been estimated that between 3 and 5 percent of all people are chemically sensitive to the point of suffering ill effects from levels of herbicide exposure considered “safe” by the EPA, and companies like SCE&G and NaturChem. There is no reason to believe that other mammal species, including our dogs, would be much different.