First of all, our hearts go out to the Japanese people. For pet owners on the West Coast – I hope you won’t have to use this information, but just in case you need it, here are some easy quick tips to minimize exposure to any possible radiation in the event that there is a period of fallout from the Japanese nuclear reactor.
By the time the radioactive cloud gets to you, we’re hoping the amount will not be significant, but you may want to minimize exposure to you and your pets.
- Think of radioactive fallout as a fine, invisible cloud of a tiny amount of dirt. With winds, gravity and natural dispersal, it may not even reach our shores in any quantity.
- The irradiated materials are particulate matter, and can be washed off many surfaces. Simply spray contaminated surfaces with water letting it run into the dirt and mother nature will take care of it.
- Radioactive Iodine poses the most obvious risk for humans and animals. There are other radioactive molecules, but Iodine can be absorbed through the skin (or the GI tract if ingested)–especially quickly in those who have an Iodine deficiency.
- But be careful of over-supplement by using straight Iodine!! It’s easy to develop Iodine toxicity.
- The best way to maintain a correct levels of iodine in the body is to supplement with Iodine rich foods, like kelp or dulce. The requirements for an animal are not high, and they do get it in prepared foods (0.7 mg of iodine daily for every pound of dog food they eat).
- Try to to keep your pets indoors when possible, or under shelter during the peak fallout time. Later when the coast is clear (literally), you could make it up to them by taking them on a few extra walks.
- Find out when/if the radioactive cloud will be at its peak and then keep walks brief.
- During a walk, avoid letting the dog eat grass and other substances that haven’t been washed or rained on.
- Hose your containers, bowls or pet toys — anything that has been outside — then bring them inside.
- If your garden produces fruits vegetables or herbs, make sure to hose everything down several times to rinse off the particles.
- If you have a lawn where animals run/roll around/play in (or eat, if it’s a rabbit-like creature) don’t forget to hose down the grass he/she runs in.
- Giving them a little bit of help in the form of kelp flakes to keep them from absorbing the radioactive iodine, is not a bad idea. Animals with thyroid issues should consult a veterinarian.
- For people, there is an easy way to test for iodine deficiency by using tincture of Iodine and painting a little square of it on your arm and see how long it takes to disappear (ask your doctor or Google “iodine self test” for instructions). Kelp supplementation helps in general for all mammals (including humans).
-Dr. Barbara Royal