Steps I've taken to avoid benzene VOCs

The Dogs

A German Shorthair Pointer Puppy, a Pit Bull and a gray American Bully standing in a kitchen on a linoleum floor in a kitchen

As I keep discovering more VOC benzene sources, it occured to me that it's not just the human items, but the dogs as well.

From touching Yuki the German Shorthair Poiner puppy's brand new synthetic rubber collar my nerves in my hands and elbows started to tingle, like you hit your funny bone with periods of sharp pain in my palms. Synthetic rubber emits the VOC vapor benzene and I had it wrapped around my dog’s necks.

A purple synthetic collar sitting on top of a gray plastic bin

After cuddling with the puppy with his brand new collar on I suddently got a sore throat, runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, tight chest and was nauseous. I had to run outside and gather my head to fight the urge to throw up.

A German Shorthair Pointer puppy with a solid brown head sitting in the front seat of a car wearing a seatbelt with throw up down the side of the car

I wonder if that’s the reason Yuki gets car sick? The benzene VOCs build up in the car and he’s got the source right around his neck. He was also wearing a seat belt harness made for dogs that has a plastic based netting material. When I held it in my hands they swelled up with nerve pain in my fingers and palm. My hand became stiff and hard to open and close freely. I am allergic to benzene (benzene), which it turns out is in both the fake rubber of his collar and the fabric of the dog's seat belt. Benzene goes by many different names: vinylbenzene, benzol, coal tar naphtha, cyclohexatriene, ethenylbenzene, ethenyl benzene, phenylethylene, phenyl hydride, benzene monomer, styrolene, styrol, styropol, cinnamene and Diarex HF 77.

A German Shorthair Pointer Puppy laying down on the front seat of a car wearing a seat belt made for dogs.

The collar felt like it had a powdery coating on it. My hand didn’t start feeling better until I took a shower. And that’s about how long it took to start feeling the benzene gases exiting my body through my arms. Extremely itchy. I washed everything that I thought might have come into contact with the dog collars including the dog's necks.

A plastic bin full of old dog leashes and collars outside on a stone porch with a GSP puppy sitting behind it

I found one of Bruno’s old collars from our old dog supply bin. It still had Bruno’s ID with our address on it. It will do for now. Poor Yuki, I bought you a lot of chemical laced dog products for Christmas. I had no idea.

Three collars lined up on a wooden table, a red, hot pink and a purple one

Yuki’s collar was brand new, I believe making it more intense. My hands had been hurting and swollen non-stop for a months so my tolerance was very low. I had not known to avoid benzene. My hands, particulaly my left hand, had been swollen with severe nerve pain for 3 months. I had seen 3 different hand to shoulder specialist and one family doctor trying to figure out the cause.

It makes me wonder if that is why Spenser has been achy? I know it makes my body achy.

A foot under a synthetic memory foam dog bed that has a German Shorthair Pointer puppy sleeping on it

My right foot was throbbing. I have pains in my feet a lot. I never knew why. I always assumed I had plantar fasciitis. Then I realized my foot was shoved under the dog bed. The dog bed is made of synthetic memory foam which emits the benzene VOC. The dogs all need new beds. Their synthetic beds bring on all of my symptoms so they cannot be good for the dogs. Synthetic memory foam gives me one of the worst reactions.

That night I heard the puppy crying inside his x-pen. I got out of bed to go and let him outside to pee. Inside the pen Yuki had kicked the dog bed to the side and he was squished in the corner on the floor. He didn’t want the bed. I now understood what was bothering him. He watched me toss his polyester bed outside. It hurt my hands to touch it.

A German Shorthair Pointer puppy sleeping in an X-pen in a kitchen that has a linoleum floor

When I put two 100% cotton towels down he flopped down on them dramatically and went to sleep. It has always been a struggle to get him to settle down. Poor Yuki was sencing the VOCs.

This meant that Mia and Spencer's beds had to go too. When I picked Mia’s dog bed up I realized how bad it was. It burned my face, eyes, nose, down my throat and up my sinuses. I gagged and almost threw up. I was nauseous. I put Spencer’s bed outside as well. They will have to sleep on towels until I get them something safer.

A teal blue cotton bath towel getting its rayon tag removed

The towels had tags on them and I had to cut them off before I gave them to the dogs. The majority of tags on fabrics including blankets and clothing are often made from rayon or other synthetic petroleum, chemically based materials and are right up there with the fake memory foam in severity.

I needed to get all of the tag out. I find that even a little bit of the tag that is left emits the VOCs into the fabric.

A gray and white Bully dog laying down on cotton towels next to a fireplace in a living room

Mia used to be restless at night, pacing around and I would tell her to go to bed. She would never be eager to do so but she would listen. I would often find her on the hard floor. Mia now seems happy to settle down and get some sleep, just like Yukon.

A gray and white large breed dog laying down on a hardwood floor in front of a wood burning stove

Spencer seemed pleased to be on towels in front of the fireplace.

A female with blonde hair, blue eyes, chapped lips a dried out face

From dealing with all of the dog beds that night my eyes felt all dried out, lips chapped and my hands felt like sandpaper.

A hand with red blotches of chapped, burned skin

I used to think I was just prone to my hands getting chapped and I needed a really good hand lotion. But it was an allergic reaction to the VOC benzene. I now try to avoid touching anything with the gases emitting. Now when I do intentionally touch handle it, I get these rashes. They are sandpaper rough. This particular time it was from removing the tags from my clothing, blankets and towels. The extreme chapped skin was accompanied by nerve pain and shocks.

Little black rubber label on a dog leash near the clip that attaches to the dog's collar

The next night... Yuki the puppy was missing. I looked all downstairs and outside. I finally found him curled up in the upstairs bathroom.

Yuki didn’t want to sleep on the linoleum floor. He decided there was a better option.

The prior nights I kept waking up to what sounded like a yip of discomfort. I would listen for more until I would fall asleep and it would happen at some point again. Eventually he would cry a constant stream of cries and I would run down and take him out to pee. It had seemed like normal puppy training. A small bladder not being able to hold it. Little did I know at the time, that was not it at all.

A female with blonde hair holding a little German Shorthair Poiner puppy in a wooden bathroom with a gray tiled floor

Before I headed off to bed for the night I carried Yuki from his cozy spot in the bathroom out to the yard for one last pee before he settled in for the night. When we came back inside I called him to me and he hid around to the side of the couch. I picked him up. He thought he was heading to the kitchen. But to his pleasant surprise, I carried him back to the bathroom.

A yellow cotton towel with rayon tags on it and a seam stripper tool that I used to remove the tags

Before I closed the bathroom door, I noticed I had to remove the tags on the towels that were hanging up so the VOC gasses did not build up on him.

A little German Shorthair Pointer puppy sleeping in an x-pen on a polyester dog bed which is on a linoleum floor

In the past Yuki had always whined and cried when I put him to bed in the kitchen inside the x-pen with his fluffy polyester dog bed. I thought it was separation anxiety. He is Sara’s new puppy and we are puppy sitting him for 10 days while she is in Europe. She comes home tomorrow.

A little German Shorthair Pointer puppy sleeping on a bath mat inside a bathroom next to a metal bathtub

That night in the upstairs bathroom Yuki didn’t wake up once.

Little black rubber label on a dog leash near the clip that attaches to the dog's collar

When I touched the synthetic rubber on these dog leashes my finger tips hurt and the nerves in my arms tingled. I cut the rubber label off with a razer blade.

A leash with a foam inner handle, and synthetic rubber balls on a table

I had given Yuki a purple reflective leash with a synthetic lined inner handle. When I walked him out to pee with it my hand throbbed. Synthetic foam always proves to be very bad. I went to the dog bin and found him a leash without the foam. I also gathered their fake rubber balls. Sorry pups. I will need to find you some natural, safe toys.

A blue nose brindle pit bull dog sleeping on a white cotton towel on cardboard with a hoof chew near him

Everyone who knows Spencer knows him as the lazy dog who prefers to sleep in the grass whenever possible rather then follow a human around. The day after I took away his synthetic memory foam dog beds and toys at both home and work he seemed to have more energy. When Yuki and I walked out to the barn Spencer tagged along wagging his tail.

Three dogs in the back of a blue jeep wearing chain collars, a German Shorthair Pointer, an American Bully and a Pit Bull

I ordered a natural collar for the dogs to test out, but the brand I purchased was not structurally safe. The buckle would pop open easily during normal use. As I keep trying to find a chemical-free collar for all of them we made non-choker chain collars. They have clips that hold the chain together to make a standard fixed size type collar. My dogs do not pull on a leash and when I let them lay outside at work they stay on their beds so this may be a good solution for them, but I am thinking that the puppy will need a flatter, softer material. I do not have it completely figured out yet. I have another collar on order to test out.

A brown brindle Boxer dog sitting outside in grass with his tongue hanging out looking happy

This section is dedicated to Bruno the Boxer who died from cancer. He had mast cell tumors that spread to his stomach. We had to put him down to prevent him from starving to death.

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