Clean, pure water: a naturopathic principle of health
Naturopathy follows 8 principles of health: proper nutrition; appropriate and adequate exercise; clean, pure water; access to sunshine and (if needed) appropriate supplements; balance and moderation; fresh air; an adequate amount of rest; and trust in the process. Here, we look at the 3rd principle of health: your pet’s need for clean, pure water. As a general rule, it is important to make sure your pet has access to fresh, pure, clean water at all times. Notice I said clean, pure water—which is slightly different than just saying fresh water. We will be looking at the importance of providing chlorine and fluoride-free water (among other things) in this article. Essentially, if you drink filtered water, give your pet the same.
Isn’t tap water OK for my dog?
Short answer? No. The tap water in most places in America contains chlorine, fluoride, and various (and varying) amounts of dissolved minerals, such as chlorides, sulfates, and bicarbonates. In addition to these, much of it also contains trace amounts of aluminum, nitrates, insecticides, herbicides, and prescription medications (including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones). There is no required testing for drugs in our water supply, so it is difficult to know exactly what is present and in what amounts, but researchers regularly find the above-listed minerals and chemicals in our water.
Chlorine bleach (in the form of chlorine dioxide) is added to almost all of America’s public water supply as a disinfectant. This practice began in the early 1900s, when the dangers and long-term effects of chlorine weren’t known, but the practice has continued because it is cheap. It is not safe, however. One of the things that chlorine does is neutralize oxygen. In essence, this means that once it’s inside the body—whether it’s our pet’s body or ours—it depletes the body’s oxygen, which in turn makes the body’s pH levels more acidic. This disrupts the immune system, which as you know can throw the whole system out of balance and lead to various illnesses and diseases, and cause more allergy symptoms. It’s interesting to note that water that occurs in nature actually contains small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, which moves the body’s pH to more basic levels. Natural water was intended to help support the correct oxygen levels and pH balance in our dogs’ and cats’ bodies, as well as ours, and therefore support the immune system.
The ill-effects of chlorine don’t end there. When chlorine products come into contact with organic proteins, they produce byproducts called trihalomethanes (THMs). One example of a THM is chloroform, which is a carcinogenic. In fact, studies have shown an association between THMs and cancers of the liver, kidneys; they have also been shown to be contributing factors in colon and bladder cancers, diabetes, and kidney stones. Chlorine also damages enzymes, which means that when it is ingested (through the water), it causes further havoc to the immune system. It can also decrease absorption of calcium while increasing calcium and phosphorous excretion.
Fluoride is also added to the water supply all across America, under the guise that it is good for dental health. However, there has been a large amount of evidence that shows fluoride to be a bio-accumulative poison when ingested. The EPA actually classifies fluoride as a toxic waste product (it comes from aluminum processing, uranium processing, and the manufacture of fertilizer), but it is still added to water supplies. Fluoride is actually used in pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides, as well as being the main ingredient in many rat poisons. It is worth noting that fluoride is cumulative in its effect upon the body, so each time you or your pet drink fluoridated water, its effects increase. Some of the most common known effects of fluoride ingestion include cancer, brittle teeth, heart disease, and arthritis.
There is much more in our public water supply than just chlorine and fluoride. It is interesting to look at a list (in alphabetical order) of the top 100 most common toxins found in the US public water supply:
Top 100 Common U.S. Water Toxins
5) 1,2 Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP)
15) 2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
21) Aldicarb sulfone
22) Aldicarb sulfoxide
41) Cadmium (total)
43) Carbon tetrachloride
51) Di(2-Ethylhexyl) adipate
52) Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
57) Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
62) Ethylene dibromide (EDB)
64) Heptachlor epoxide
72) Monochlorobenzene (Chlorobenzene)
77) Nitrates & nitrites
80) Oxamyl (Vydate)
86) Radium-226 & Radium-228
95) Total haloacetic acids
96) Total trihalomethanes (THMs)
100) Vinyl chloride
What to do?
So how do you make sure that you are providing your pets with clean, pure water? The best way to do this is to provide them with filtered water. Unfortunately, not all filters are created equal, nor are all bottled waters truly pure. Many are actually just tap water that has been bottled, and some of them contain fluoride and various minerals. Check the label to see if chlorine or fluoride has been added back in. Also, note that Brita water filters often do not completely remove chlorine and fluoride. Reverse osmosis filtration systems and the Berkey filter (with the optional fluoride filters) are good alternatives. They are more expensive, but if you are able to get them, they are a good option. You can also get bottled spring water that is in a safe plastic bottle; well water is also a great option if you have access to a well.
If you haven’t already, invest in a stainless steel bowl for your pets to drink out of. Just like with their food dishes, plastic bowls can harbor bacteria and leach chemicals out. Make sure that you clean and refill the water dish daily, or whenever it gets low.
Clean, pure water makes a big difference!
It is vitally important that you provide your pets with clean, pure water. Doing so helps keep all of their systems, including their immune system, healthy. It supports their bodies in maintaining balance and health, and may even encourage them to drink more. Following this principle is part of the total approach to helping your pets achieve and maintain true, lasting health, so that they can thrive throughout all your years together.