Green Cleaning Products That Are Safe for Pets

By PetMD Editorial. Reviewed by Lauren Jones, VMD on Mar. 31, 2022

We all want what's best for our pets, which means keeping them away from any potential dangers. That’s why it’s so important to do your homework in determining which products, such as household cleaners, best suit the needs—and safety—of your family.

Toxins in Cleaning Products

According to the American Lung Association, many cleaning supplies and household products can irritate the eyes and throat and can cause headaches and other problems, including cancer.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals typically finds household products to be in the top ten most common cause of acute toxicosis in pets. These household chemicals include, but are not limited to, cleaning products, laundry detergent, and paint.

Dr. Branson Ritchie, DVM, of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and co-director of the Infectious Diseases Laboratory, explains, “Any material that’s considered toxic for your family should also be considered a risk for your companion animals. Birds and reptiles are particularly sensitive to aerosolized toxins and can often serve as sentinels for environmental toxins.

“You should take the same precautions to protect your pets from chemicals that you would for your children.”

There is no such thing as a product without chemicals, so a label advertising "natural" or "green" does not automatically equal a healthier or safer product. For example, pyrethrin is a natural flea product that is non-toxic to dogs, slightly toxic in cats, and extremely toxic to fish.

If there is a good chance that any pet or human could ingest or inhale a cleaning product, it's best to find an alternative product.

Not All Labels Mean Safe for Pets

Keep in mind that green, or eco-friendly, cleaning products are not all the same. There are countless meanings and uses of the word “green,” and some products labeled this way may still contain toxins for pets.

Finding out which chemicals are being used, and if they are safe for use around pets, is indeed the best way to keep your family safe in the home.

Nontoxic Cleaning Products

Many pet families choose green cleaning products that are safe for pets and the environment. There are plenty of cleaners on the market today that are highly rated, eco-friendly, and safe for you and your pets.

When using any chemicals, a residue is left behind. Keep in mind, pets use their mouths to clean themselves, which increases the potential to ingest a potentially harmful substance that comes in contact with their fur or paws.

“It’s better for your pets and for your family to use non-toxic materials in any enclosed space," says Dr. Ritchie. "If you do need to use chemicals, read the label thoroughly so that you know the dangers associated with that chemical. And be sure you, your family and your pets are in a well-ventilated space.”

Using only non-toxic, pet-safe green cleaning products is not only pet-friendly, but it’s also environmentally and home-friendly, too.

When a pet mess occurs in outdoor spaces, consider a cleaner like Simple Green outdoor odor eliminator, which uses naturally derived microorganisms to neutralize and eliminate pet waste odors. This product is highly rated for grass, synthetic turf, decks, and patios.

Plant-Based Cleaners

Non-toxic plant-based products clean your home without the unpleasant and potentially harmful residue that can be found in conventional cleaners. Plant-based cleaning products are made with naturally derived, safe, and biodegradable ingredients, often using sustainable manufacturing practices.

Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor remover is a solution developed without artificial fragrances or colors, and it works great on almost any surface. It uses live enzyme cultures, citrus extracts, and plant-based surfactants to clean pet messes.

Enzyme Cleaners

From everything including urine, vomit, feces, blood, grass, and dirt, non-toxic enzyme cleaners remain top-rated pet stain and odor removers.

Enzymes are biological compounds that speed up a chemical reaction. When used in cleaners, they break down biological substances such as urine and feces. This makes them the perfect cleaner for pet messes.

Enzymatic cleaners are non-toxic and biodegradable, which means they’re safe to use in any room of your home. There are highly rated enzyme sprays that works on almost any surface.


Symptoms of Toxicity in Pets

Acute toxicosis secondary to cleaning products is relatively uncommon in pets. However, pets are much lower to the ground, which means they may have a higher exposure to chemicals and fumes. Pets with a pre-existing respiratory condition may be even more sensitive.

Regardless of pre-existing conditions, make sure to store chemicals and cleaners in places where even the most curious pet can’t get into them. All cleaning products should be unreachable by pets and children.

“Signs of acute or chronic exposure to environmental toxins may include clean ocular or nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, itching, skin irritation, and diarrhea," says Dr. Ritchie. "Be sure to make your veterinary professional aware of any potential toxins you may have used in your home prior to your companion animal developing any of these critical changes. And remember that you can always call the 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center.”

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