Maintaining your patients’ health in a toxic world

Understanding how our toxic environment can contribute to inflammation and other health issues in animal patients, and what you can do to reverse the damage.

As a veterinarian, you’ve likely witnessed the change in how dogs and cats are viewed and cared for. Today, they’re more than just furry fixtures in homes; they are full-fledged members of the family. However, taking care of their health is becoming more challenging in the ever-increasing toxic environment in which we live1. In fact, most chronic diseases that animals face are rooted in fighting environmental toxins and the associated chronic inflammation2.

Not all inflammation is created equal

Inflammation is the immune system’s response to foreign invaders, toxins, and cell injury.

Acute (short-term) inflammation, such as after a bug bite or injury, is generally taken care of with immune response-keeping pathogens like bacteria and viruses. However, chronic, low-grade, or systemic inflammation may be harmful, as it can affect an animal’s entire body for years. In some disorders, the inflammatory process (which under normal conditions is self-limiting) becomes continuous, and chronic inflammatory diseases develop. Common issues such as periodontitis, otitis externa, and obesity are sources for chronic inflammation3.

How to recognize the symptoms of chronic inflammation

Ear infections

Otitis externa is a condition that causes inflammation (redness and swelling) of the external ear canal caused by bacterial infections, irritation, fungal infections, and allergies. Symptoms include ear pain, itchiness, and discharge. These types of infections in the middle ear and inner tissues in mice have been shown to create excess inflammatory cells, including IL-6, which means excess inflammation4.

Gum disease

Almost immediately after a pet eats, plaque forms on their teeth. This sticky film is made of bacteria, food, saliva, and other particles. The bacteria in plaque causes their immune system to recognize it as foreign, inflaming the gums in a condition called gingivitis. Long term, gingivitis becomes periodontitis, a painful form of chronic inflammation resulting in destruction of the tissues that attaches the tooth. The immune response to periodontitis leads to increased pro-inflammatory IL-6 levels5. Unfortunately, periodontitis disease happens five times more often in dogs than in people because dogs have a more alkaline mouth than humans, which promotes plaque formation (also, they don’t brush daily).

Overweight pets

Obesity in pets is defined as their weight being at least 30% over their ideal weight. If an animal is at a healthy weight, you should be able to easily feel their ribs. If not, and weight is a concern, diet and activity level need to be assessed and altered. But taking these steps won’t keep them away from the toxic environment affecting most pet foods6. In fact, obesity may hinder their ability to mount a proper immune response to the conditions caused by chronic inflammation.

Pet food plays a significant role in patient health

Gut health is just as important for maintaining overall health in pets as it is in humans. Toxins in pet foods cause damage to the gut which impacts digestion and overall health. Just as with gum disease and ear infections, immune response to the daily intake of toxins in food results in chronic inflammation7. If you recognize any chronic issues and associated signs of chronic inflammation in your patient, talk to your clients about what they can do to reverse it before it worsens.

Just as with gum disease and ear infections, immune response to the daily intake of toxins in food results in chronic inflammation.

Terrahydrite®, the active ingredient in ION*Gut Health for Pets, has also been scientifically proven to tighten the junctions in the gut lining so that the immune system can function as designed and manage chronic inflammation8. ION*Gut Health For Pets is an all-natural, soil-derived supplement that fosters the Intelligence of Nature (ION), helping to manage the impact of environmental toxins found everywhere from the parks they play in to the food they eat.


  1. Urban environment predisposes dogs and their owners to allergic symptoms, Hakanen, E., Lehtimäki, J., Salmela, E. et al.Sci Rep 8, 1585 (2018).
  2. Incidence of and risk factors for atopic dermatitis in a Swedish population of insured dogs Nødtvedt, A., Egenvall, A., Bergval, K., Hedhammar, Å. (2006), Veterinary Record 159, 241-246.
  3. The State of Pet Health® 2016 Report, Banfield Pet Hospital.
  4. Altered expression of middle and inner ear cytokines in mouse otitis media, MacArthur CJ, Pillers DA, Pang J, Kempton JB, Trune DR.. Laryngoscope. 2011;121(2):365–371. doi:10.1002/lary.21349
  5. Evaluation of Systemic Inflammation Parameters in Dogs with Periodontitis, KURTDEDE Efe, ARALAN Gizem, CENGIZ Remzi Soner, KILINÇ Ayten Aşkın, COŞKUN Çağlar, SALMANOĞLU Berrin, Acta Veterinaria-Beograd 2019, 69 (2), 218-228 UDK: 636.7.09:[616.314.17-008.1:577.1, DOI: 10.2478/acve-2019-0017.
  6. Detection of glyphosate residues in companion animal feeds, Zhao J, Pacenka S, Wu J, Richards BK, Steenhuis T, Simpson K, Hay AG, Environ Pollut. 2018 Dec;243(Pt B):1113-1118. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.08.100.
  7. Pandey A, Dhabade P, Kumarasamy A. Inflammatory Effects of Subacute Exposure of Roundup in Rat Liver and Adipose Tissue. Dose Response. 2019;17(2):1559325819843380. Published 2019 May 23. doi:10.1177/1559325819843380.
  8. Protective Effects of Lignite Extract Supplement on Intestinal Barrier Function in Glyphosate-Mediated Tight Junction Injury, Gildea JJ, Roberts DA, Bush Z., J Clin Nutr Diet. 2017, 3:1. doi: 10.4172/2472-1921.100035


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