How Friendly Are “Pet Friendly” cleaners?

By Gabrielle Jonas

How Friendly Are ‘Pet-Friendly’ Cleaners? Pet owners’ confusion about the safety of traditional mainstream cleaning products vs. that of “natural” products has prevailed ever since “pet friendly” cleaners hit the market some years ago.

According to Nature’s Source, a pet-friendly cleaner division of SC Johnson Co., ingredients are “natural” if they are derived from plant or microbial sources made with processing that does not change the substance chemically — such as cold pressing or steam distillation.

Sometimes it’s the very sound of the non-natural ingredients in traditional mainstream cleaners that can start a firestorm of concern. Years ago, an e-mail campaign that claimed that an ingredient in Swiffer Wet Jet — propylene glycol n-butol/propyl ether — caused liver failure in a dog.

The claim was debunked on, a rumor-monitoring site that pointed out the ingredient in question differed significantly from ethylene glycol, the potentially toxic ingredient present in most antifreeze products.

Safe according to the ASPCA

“Not all information sent via e-mail or posted on the Internet is necessarily accurate,” the site said. “It’s always a good idea to verify any information regarding pet health concerns with a veterinary professional.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stepped in and had its own Animal Poison Control Center veterinarian toxicologists staff test the product. The ASPCA declared the product to be safe for pet-owner use.

The ASPCA also defends Febreze against similar Internet-spread accusations. Claims that the fabric freshener caused serious illness or death in pets were unfounded, the non-profit determined.

Veterinary toxicology experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also ascertained that Febreze fabric freshener products were safe for use in households with pets.

Muddying the waters, however is the fact that the ASPCA partnered with Swiffer and Febreze in raising money for its work with homeless pets. Procter & Gamble, which makes those products, donated money to the ASPCA for every $10 of certain P& G products sold.

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