Making Home Improvement Less Toxic for Dogs

Yesterday was a rough day at my animal house. Despite widespread predictions of rain all week long in New York City, my landlord - who...

Julia Szabo  |  Apr 20th 2011


Yesterday was a rough day at my animal house. Despite widespread predictions of rain all week long in New York City, my landlord – who moves in mysterious ways – decreed that, of all weeks,this was prime timetorefurbish the hallways of the building.

Withthe most toxic plaster, primer, and paint imaginable – naturally.

It wasn’t easysteering my large dogs downa narrow hallway where both sidessported wet primer, alonga hallway carpet dusted with superfinewhite plaster particles. I took each one out separately.On each outing, I was coughing and my poor dogs – whose sense of smell is a million times more finely tuned thanany mere human’s- were sneezing pitifully.

Trying tosleep with those toxic fumesseeping inunder the doorproved practically impossible. Before turning in, I deployed yards of blue tape to seal off the openings between the front door and door frame. But those fumes were sostrong, they powered rightthrough the tape. If you read this column, then you know I’m a health nut, soit was particularly agonizing for me to know my dogs and I wereexposed to all that toxicity, and there was little I could do about it.

With the windows wide open for ventilation and the outside temperature somewherein the 40s, it was definitely a three-dog night in our bedroom. I was thankful for thewarming and de-stressing proximity of my K9 family, and glad we’re all taking Milk Thistle for liver protection – this was one instance when we really needed it.

By this morning, I’d hatched a plan. Bleary-eyed and sniffling, I respectfully asked the painters if they would please substitutespecial paint on my floor, as long as I supply it. Happily, they agreed.

So I made a trip to my local paint store, Janovic Plaza, and returned in20 minuteswith two gallons of Benjamin Moore Natura super-white flat. And right now, the painters arerolling thatonto the top half of the walls out there.

The slogan on the paint can reads “Breathe Easy.” That’s no joke. It’s more like breathe a sigh of relief! Non-toxic Natura paint emits almost no odor and driesfast – even in miserably soggy weather. This green paint is actually as efficient as it is environmentally friendly.

The landlord’scost-saving decorative schemeis flat finish on the top half of the wall, and eggshell below.The eggshell finish sports a slight sheen – to help lighten the dark hallway – and is easier to wipe clean. So why not paint the whole wall with it? Because it’s more expensive than flat paint. So later today, I’ll be returning to the store for two gallons of Natura Linen White Eggshell paint, to cover the bottom half of the hallway walls.

BecauseNatura contains no harmful VOCs – the acronym for volatile organic compounds – it’s more stable. Things that are more stable are more durable. Which means that the Natura-painted walls will keep their good looks longer than they would ifpainted with the toxic stuff. And that means maybe, just maybe, we won’t have to relive this waking nightmare for several years.

Have you recently incorporated a green product into your home improvement routine? Please tell ushow that worked outin the comments.