You might not be the type of person to spray your lawn and garden with Roundup weed killer … but that doesn’t mean your dog is safe from it.
Roundup is everywhere. It’s in your dog’s food, in his water and on the ground. Since your dog is exposed to it daily, the million-dollar question is … is Roundup safe for dogs?
Research shows it’s not …
What Is Roundup?
Roundup is a herbicide. It’s available in a bottle for home application and it’s also widely used by farmers and by cities for weed control. Its primary ingredient is glyphosate. But it also contains surfactants to help the glyphosate cling to the plants.
Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States. It’s used in agriculture, on your neighbor’s lawns and gardens, in forestry and even for aquatic weed control.
How Does Glyphosate Work?
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide. This means it kills almost all plants. It does this by stopping an enzyme pathway called the Shikimate pathway. Plants, algae, fungi and bacteria all use this metabolic route to manufacture essential amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine.
Dogs harbor up to a whopping 30 times more glyphosate than humans.
The herbicide also chelates or blocks the plant’s access to vital nutrients including calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, copper, nickel, cobalt, boron, molybdenum, selenium and potassium. Glyphosate basically gives the plant AIDS … it takes away its nutrients and weakens its immune system.
And it’s doing the same to your dog …
How Likely Is Your Dog To Be Exposed To Roundup Or Glyphosate?
Researchers tested 50 people in California between 1993-1996 and 2014-2016. They found that the number of people who tested positive for the presence of glyphosate increased … as did the amount of glyphosate.
A lab at University California San Francisco reports that a whopping 93% of humans have glyphosate in their urine. The average sample tested at 3.096 parts per billion (PPB) with children having the highest levels. People living in the midwest and the west had the highest levels. Children’s levels are so high that US legislation has even been introduced to try and limit the exposure.
And this is a major issue. In fact, a new study found that glyphosate increases the risk of cancer to those exposed to it by 41%. But the amount of glyphosate in humans is much lower than it is in our pets. A pilot study by HRI Labs found that the glyphosate levels in dogs are 30 times higher than in humans.
So what does that mean for their health?
Roundup And Lawn Chemicals Are Linked To Cancer In Dogs
Roughly half of dogs today get cancer … and that percentage is skyrocketing. And glyphosate exposure could be a big part of this.
A 6 year study at Tufts University linked lawn chemicals to a 70% increase in the risk of lymphoma.
A growing body of research shows Roundup is an endocrine disruptor, kills beneficial gut bacteria and damages DNA.
Lawn chemicals have also been shown to increase the risk of bladder cancer in a 2013 study. The researchers also found glyphosate in the urine of dogs living in homes that didn’t spray their lawns.
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Cancer researchers unanimously voted for it. In 2017, California listed glyphosate as a known human carcinogen under its Proposition 65 law. Ironically, the US government is much more tolerant of glyphosate.
The EPA continues to insist the chemical isn’t harmful as currently used (although in 2022 courts have ordered the EPA to review its opinion). A few years ago, US FDA 2009-2015 Commissioner Margaret Hamberg tried to make us feel better about glyphosate’s link to cancer:
“Sure, you could say that glyphosate causes cancer, of course it does … but only when swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time.”
Well, Commissioner, that only applies to … EVERYBODY! Because every one of us is exposed daily to glyphosate in our environment, food and water.
Is Roundup Safe For Dogs?
That would be a big old no. In the last 20 years, scientists have documented the health consequences of Roundup and glyphosate and they’ve found that people who are sick have higher levels of glyphosate than people who are healthy.
A growing body of research shows Roundup is an endocrine disruptor, kills beneficial gut bacteria and damages DNA.
What health issues are linked to glyphosate exposure?
Alzheimer’s Disease: glyphosate causes the same oxidative stress observed in Alzheimer’s patients.
Autism: researchers believe the link may be due to gut dysbiosis caused by glyphosate.
Birth Defects: glyphosate can block the vitamin A pathways that are crucial for normal development.
Brain Cancer: the risk of brain cancer increases with exposure
Cancer: cancer rates are much higher in areas where Roundup is used. A study published by the Environmental Research Journal found that dogs were 70% more likely to get malignant lymphoma if they lived in homes with pesticide use.
Heart Disease: a disruption of biosynthesis of amino acids is linked to heart disease.
Liver Disease: even very low doses of Roundup show a disruption of liver cell function.
Kidney Disease: Scientists have concluded that an increase in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India is likely due to glyphosate
Reproductive Problems: glyphosate can impact sperm production and decrease testosterone levels at puberty.
Leaky Gut: glyphosate can cause severe tryptophan deficiency, which leads to inflammatory bowel disease and inability to absorb nutrients.
Roundup Is Everywhere
Your dog isn’t just exposed to Roundup when he walks on treated grass. Dogs are exposed to glyphosate every day. It’s in their food, in the air and in water.
With the introduction of genetically modified (GMO) foods, Roundup is now everywhere. It’s estimated we use 20 billion pounds of glyphosate globally … which is 15 times more than when Roundup Ready crops were introduced in 1996. Nearly 75% of all glyphosate used on crops has been in the last 10 years.
The first crops to become Roundup Ready were cotton, corn and soybeans. Since 1996, more and more foods are becoming genetically engineered. Here are the top 4:
- Corn: 88% of corn grown in the US is GMO or Roundup Ready.
- Soy: 93% of soy is GMO. Soy can appear on labels as lecithin, tocopherols (vitamin E supplement) oils and proteins.
- Cottonseed: 94% is GMO and is used for vegetable oils
- Alfalfa: Nearly all alfalfa in the US is GMO. Alfalfa is found in animal feeds and will accumulate in the tissues of the meats your dog eats.
Apples have recently been genetically modified as well as potatoes, squash, rice, plums, flax, tomatoes, beets and more. Every year, more and more foods will be Roundup Ready. It’s estimated nearly 70% of processed human foods contain GMO ingredients … and percentages for pet foods are likely much higher.
But glyphosate isn’t just in GMO foods …
Roundup is often used on non GMO crops like wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas, flax, rye, buckwheat, millet, beets, potatoes and other crops before harvesting. Roundup is sprayed on these crops to dry them and speed up harvesting. This is called desiccating or pre-harvesting.
Even organic crops may be desiccated with Roundup. So even if your food label claims it’s non-GMO or organic, there may still be glyphosate in it. This pre-harvest practice could account for the doubling of glyphosate residues in human urine in the last decade.
Roundup In Pet Foods
Glyphosate researchers Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff tested a small sample of pet foods for glyphosate. Every sample they tested contained glyphosate.
And when it comes to glyphosate in dog food, kibble is more than 100 times higher in glyphosate than any commercial raw dog food.
But even if you’re raw feeding your dog (whether homemade or pre-made) … you still have to worry about glyphosate in meat and bones. You may not think of these foods as having glyphosate … but remember what the cows and other animals are eating. It’s usually corn and soy. Even grass-fed animals may graze in corn stubble fields where glyphosate was used.
So if you’re not feeding organic, grass-fed meats and bones, they’ll expose your dog to glyphosate. This happens for two reasons. Glyphosate mimics glycine, so it can replace this amino acid in the body. And because glyphosate bonds with calcium, it’s absorbed by the bones too.
The EPA’s tolerance level (p 508-510) for meat and meat byproducts if 5 ppm (parts per million). Tests done by HRI Labs show this is the level of glyphosate in most commercial raw pet foods … but kibble’s glyphosate content is vastly higher. with a range from 200 to 660 ppm.
So it’s much, much safer for your dog to feed a raw diet, and try to give your dog grass-fed bones and meat if you can.
Roundup Safety: The Microbiome
Remember that Shikimate pathway that glyphosate destroys?
While your dog might not rely on the Shikimate pathway for his energy, the bacteria in his microbiome do. Your dog’s immune system is formed of trillions of little microorganisms that live on his skin, in his digestive tract and on his body. Collectively, these little communities of bacteria and bugs are called the microbiome. The microbiome is so critical to your dog’s health, it can even communicate with his brain.
Glyphosate destroys these critical bacteria by disabling their Shikimate pathway. Intestinal bacteria produce your dog’s vitamins and short chain fatty acids. They crowd out harmful bacteria and viruses by competing for nutrients. Destroying these friendly bugs can cripple your dog’s immune system … and his health.
And glyphosate can also directly impact your dog. Just as it binds to nutrients and minerals in plants, it will do the same in your dog. And the worst part is, glyphosate will accumulate in your dog’s kidneys and prevent him from detoxifying. And kidney disease is the second leading cause of death in dogs today.
How To Reduce Your Dog’s Roundup Exposure
First of all, don’t use Roundup or any chemical herbicides or pesticides on your own property. You can kill weeds with sprays made with vinegar, botanical oils and soaps.
You can’t stop your neighbors from using it … but you can do your part to educate them about the risks to their family’s and pets’ health.
When you’re out on walks, don’t let your dog walk on any perfect, weedless lawns in the neighborhood. That’s a sure sign they’re using Roundup or other herbicides. Sometimes you’ll see little signs warning that grass has been “recently treated.” Keep your dog moving past these areas, and don’t let him stop to sniff or walk on them.
Find out whether your local parks use herbicides like Roundup on the grass. Always be suspicious if you see beautiful grass without any weeds. Keep your dog away from these areas.
Be especially cautious if your dog likes eating grass and plants. If you’re not sure whether plants have been sprayed with herbicides, don’t let your dog munch on them.
And as mentioned earlier, feed a raw diet if you can. Any raw diet is much lower in glyphosate than just about any kibble.
Is Roundup Safe For Dogs After It’s Dry?
Roundup labeling claims it’s safe for kids and pets to walk on after it’s dry, because the chemicals have sunk into the ground to the plant roots. But they don’t tell you this for health reasons … what they mean is that once it’s dry, your dogs and children won’t track the chemicals onto other parts of your yard. The Roundup label also says the product is “relatively nontoxic to dogs and other domestic animals” … yet research now shows that isn’t true! So it’s safest to keep your dog off any Roundup treated areas, whether they’re wet or dry.
How To Minimize The Damage
As mentioned earlier, you can’t avoid glyphosate. And neither can your dog. But there’s research that shows you may be able to repair some of the harm it does to your dog’s microbiome.
2014 research by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Germany’s Leipzig University successfully reversed some of the toxic effects of glyphosate in cows. They studied 380 dairy cows with chronic botulism caused by GMO feeds containing glyphosate. The cows received three supplements for several weeks …
- Sauerkraut juice
- Humic acid
After the 6 month study period, the cows were healthier and had significantly reduced levels of glyphosate in their urine. Several other sources cite bentonite clay and fulvic acid as other supplements that help reduce glyphosate damage.
So giving your dog a soil-based probiotic that contains humic and fulvic acid plus bentonite clay can help your dog eliminate glyphosate toxicity.
Another study at the University of Caen, France, used herbal formulas to help detoxify glyphosate in human liver cells. These formulas included …
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
- Burdock Root (Arctium Lappa)
- Milk Thistle (Carduus marianus)
- Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
- Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
So … you can repair some of the harm Roundup does to your dog’s microbiome by adding a soil-based probiotic plus some of these herbs to your dog’s diet.
However hard you try, you can’t get away from glyphosate. But you can take some steps to limit the harm it does to your dog.
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