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I wanted to share with you all about an issue I have had with my dog over the past several years. This issue with my dog led me to some pretty drastic discoveries. These discoveries have led to my family adopting toxic free living. I want to share this with you in the hopes that someone who experienced the same things might be helped!


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Senior Dog Rescue – Prada Finds a Home

In 2013, we decided our dog Baxter needed a companion. So we went to the local animal shelter with a specific dog in mind. When we arrived, we were told the dog was no longer available for adoption, so we started looking around.

I found this adorable chihuahua named Chanel who had a pink tail! Seriously, the girly part of me was over the moon for her! My husband had his big dog, Baxter, so I wanted a little one I could cuddle.

As we continued to walk around, my husband zoned in on a fat, scraggly, dirty old shih tzu named Patterson. He wanted to have a visit with him so I agreed, my heart still set on my little chihuahua.

We sat on the floor with Patterson and he was sweet, I admit it. But he was like the dog version of Walter Matthau in the Odd Couple(I would go on to nickname him Walter).

Needless to say, we ended up leaving the shelter with “Walter” in tow. My husband liked his temperament and, I admit, a chihuahua likely wouldn’t have been a good pairing with Baxter.

He was a senior, roughly 8 years old at that time, with medical issues, but nothing major. Mostly ear issues they said.

We got in the car and I put “Walter” on my lap for the ride home and he immediately showed me what life would be like. He passed gas, snorted, sneezed the whole ride home.

We compromised. Since I didn’t get my “girly” dog, I was allowed to name him. So I named him Prada. Oh if only I had known how prophetic that expensive name would be!

Prada the dog

Dog Skin Issues

We soon came to realize that Prada not only had chronic ear infections, but he was prone to his skin breaking out in this red, oozing skin rash.

We had been to one vet after another over the course of the 5 years we have had him and none have been able to pinpoint the cause.

We switched him to home-cooked food and it seemed to help for a while, but then his skin would break out. It wasn’t food.

It wasn’t any bathing products; he was on a shampoo prescribed by the vet.

The rash got so bad at one point we were having to make the decision to put him to sleep. He was so sick and couldn’t even hold his bladder anymore. He had actually developed E coli on his skin! They had never seen anything like that happen before. There was nothing that we could do to stop this rash as we could not determine what was causing it.

The vet saw how brokenhearted I was and wanted to try one more thing.

It worked. But for how long?

Not too long, although he never got as bad as he did that one time. He always ends up with a rash in the pits under his front legs.

Prada the dog

Licking Paws

I began to notice that when he would break out in this rash, he would not only lick under his legs but he was also licking his paws…a lot!

I started to wonder if something on his paws was making his skin break out.

Our vet told us that oftentimes when a dog licks its paws like that it is because there may be something there that causes them irritation, so they try to rid themselves of it.


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It wasn’t anything associated with where we lived because we had moved with him several times over the past 5 years due to my husband moving up in his career. So it wasn’t anything location specific. It happened everywhere.

But the one common denominator, the one thing that always stayed constant throughout location changes, food changes, medication changes, shampoo changes, was my cleaning products.

Prada the dog




Harmful Chemicals

I started to look at the products I was using in my home, particularly on the floor since that is what his paws came in contact with the most. We have hardwood floors now but even when we had carpet we still had tile in the kitchen so I still used the same products. In addition, the steam cleaning solution I would use on the carpet also had harmful chemicals.

I began to wonder if he was breaking out due to these chemicals. So I started to do some research.

Thanks to a friend who practices total toxic free living in her own home, I discovered the 20 year lung study.

This study found that using national brand cleaners as little as one time per week is as damaging to lung health as smoking 20 cigarettes per day!

It found women were more affected by them than men. This appears to have less to do with women cleaning more often than men and more to do with a woman having a more sensitive respiratory system.

It found that cleaning at home was just as damaging as it is for someone who is an occupational cleaner, if not more so since occupational cleaners tend to use more safety equipment when handling harmful chemicals than we do at home!

Liquid cleaners were found to be just as dangerous as sprays! We often think sprays are worse for us because of the airborne particles in the spray, but the truth is that the harmful chemicals in the liquid cleaners are inhaled just as much as in a spray!

They found that ammonia and chlorine bleach (as well as some other chemicals) in many of our cleaning products were the primary culprits!

Women who use these types of products have increased rates of asthma!

They also found that the damage culminates over time. “Exposure to cleaning chemicals,” the researchers state, “could result in accelerated lung function decline and chronic airway obstruction; low-grade inflammation over many years could possibly lead to persistent damage to the airways.”

You can read the study for yourself for further details!

Not only was I putting myself and my family in danger but my dogs were ingesting these chemicals through their paws!

I felt like I failed my family! I felt like I failed God because I wasn’t taking the necessary steps to take better care of my household.



From Toxic Home To Toxic Free Living

We decided to adopt toxic free living and switch out all our household products to safer, biodegradable solutions that are found in nature, like plant-derived ingredients.

There ARE safer products out there!!

This is so important, especially if you have children who crawl on the floors or your household has pets!

I was horrified by what we were breathing in and even more horrified that I was essentially poisoning our dogs! I was horrified by what the products were doing to the environment as well. I was not being a good steward of this planet God has given us.

Not only are the products I use now safer, but they reduce waste as well.

When my children were very young, I used these healthier products but, over time, I switched back to my old cleaning products. We just get in the mindset that bleach sanitizes so it must be ok to use!

Ever clean a tub with bleach products and feel like you need to wear a gas mask and open every window in the house? Yeah, that is going to your lungs!

I never want to see my poor dog go through that again. And hopefully, he never will! The products I use now are so safe they don’t even require child-proof caps!

I use Melaleuca products and they are absolutely amazing! I do not sell Melaleuca but you can visit their site and they can connect you with someone in your area. You do not need to purchase from anyone, you can order directly but they do connect you with someone to assist you with that.

They have made such a huge difference in our home!

Some other posts to check out:





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Diane is a wife and mom, a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus) and yes, a blogger. In addition to owning Worth Beyond Rubies, she also co-owns other sites such as Faithful CEOs which helps Christian bloggers and businesses, Hot Flashy Faith which is a site for women over 40 and everything important to them, and Women of Worth Café another site for Christian women with Bible studies, devotions and the Jewish roots of the faith. Diane lives in BEAUTIFUL Northwestern Connecticut and when she is not blogging, you will find her spending time with her husband and kiddos out on their little mini-farm.

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    I have a friend who’s dog is always licking her paws. She has been to the vet and still there is a problem. Going to show her this post.

    Wendy Tomlinson

    This is a really interesting post. I am trying to cut back on toxins in my home but to be honest, I never thought of the impact on my gorgeous little dog. Thank you.

    Jen E

    I’m with you on this. over the last year or so I’ve been doing research into the food and the chemicals we’re using. It’s frightening that these chemicals are not regulated by the government better. Everyone should be doing their own research and making a switch to safer gentler products. Thanks for sharing, very important.


    This really makes me think of things more than the obvious cleaning products. I had not thought of the floor where my animals walk every day. Thank you for highlighting the need for fewer toxins.


    This is so eye opening! My dog has been licking his paws nonstop the last few days. Now I’m wondering if it may be cleaning products! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Nicole Kauffman

    I just got started with essential oils and can’t wait to switch over to more natural products! Thanks for sharing your story <3


    Thank you so much for sharing this! I’ve been recently tackling the toxins in my skin care products after learning their link to hormonal imbalances and have noticed huge changes. There are still some cleaning products I need to replace though so thank you for your insight ?