Monday, 8 February 2021

Borax, Is it Really Dog and Cat Safe?


Boraz, is it really safe for your dog?

★ 3 min read

I’ve seen many people promoting Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) and Boric Acid as “dog and cat safe, natural treatments” for issues such as ear infections, wounds and flea infestations. However, borax and boric acid are not safe treatments. The rationale for using borax or boric acid is “it’s better than a conventional treatment”. But is that true?


First we need to talk about Boron.


Boron is not the same as borax. Boron is not the same as boric acid.


Boron is a naturally occurring element (B).


Boron occurs in nature at low concentrations in rocks and soil in the form of borates. Many of the Earth’s minerals contain boron.


Dogs, cats, we humans and other animals consume trace amounts of naturally occurring boron from our drinking water, greens and veggies, herbs, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Boron is a bioactive element and micro-nutrient that contributes to bone growth, aids hormone production and also supports the central nervous system.


Now let’s talk about borax and boric acid.


When rocks and soil break down in nature borate is released in the form of crude borax (also called tincal or tincar). Crude unrefined borax is found in, for example: marshes, salt deposits, subterranean lake beds, and mud volcanoes.


Crude unrefined borax was used by the Babylonian civilization for gold smithing. It was used by the Egyptians for embalming mummies and several other purposes. The ancient Chinese used crude borax to create colorful ceramic glazes. Crude borax was traded in small amounts along the silk road. Today borate compounds are used for a wide variety of industrial purposes including fertilizers and insulation, flame retardants, computer equipment and glass, insecticides and taxidermy.


Today borax is a by-product of large-scale boron mining. Crude borax is mined and chemically processed (converted) into the boron compound Borax, a crystalline substance containing boron, sodium and water. 

Boric acid is created by combining borax with boracite and colemanite, hydrogen and oxygen. Boric acid is a crystalline substance.

There are various forms of boron compounds, these include:

Boric acid (boracic acid, hydrogen borate, orthoboric acid)

Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate)

Disodium borate (Disodium octaborate anhydrous and Disodium octaborate tetrahydrate)

Sodium borate (Sodium tetraborate anhydrous, Sodium tetraborate pentahydrate)


Borax and boric acid are considered hazardous substances and are toxins.


Depending on the sensitivity of the individual and the amount of exposure received, borax and also boric acid can cause a little discomfort or significant harm.


Borax and boric acid are known developmental health and reproductive health disrupters (toxin);  kidney toxins (nephrotoxin) and neurotoxic.


If Borax or boric acid are inhaled or ingested they can cause a range of minor to major adverse side effects including: gastrointestinal upset (i.e.: abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting), endocrine issues, kidney issues, respiratory issues, reproductive health issues, neurotoxicity, vascular issues (headaches, lethargy) and can cause death. It’s also an eye irritant and skin irritant.


Borax or boric acid should not be used around or on animals that have any of the health conditions I’ve noted above. If you use borax or boric acid on or around a healthy dog or cat, you should employ great caution.


When consumed Borax is absorbed by the body rapidly (98% absorption rate) and can result in adverse side effects quickly or over the long-term.


Boric acid, disodium octaborate tetrahydrate and borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) are reproductive tract toxins. Hence why they are used in commercial applications to inhibit the growth of fungi.


Boric acid and sodium tetraborate are desiccates which is why they are used as herbicides.


Boric acid is a stomach toxin and nervous system toxin. It’s also an abrasive, hence it’s use as an insecticide.


Consider the active properties and then consider if it’s actually safe to use around your animal.


I don’t recommend using borax or boric acid on or around animals or people. Its important to understand that just because a substance 'works' does not mean the substance is safe.


Safe, Natural Alternative Treatments

Instead of using borax or boric acid, choose a safe natural option that won’t put you dog and cat’s safety at risk. Treat the root cause of the issue and select a truly natural remedy to help alleviate symptoms.


If your dog or cat has fleas:

Support your animal’s immune system by adding pure supplemental whole foods and herbs to make your animal less attractive to fleas.


You’ll find helpful alternatives by clicking on these links:

Natural topical treatment recipes.

Supportive whole foods and herbs.


Instead of using borax powder on carpets and other surfaces in your home, use baking soda or Himalayan salt, leave on overnight and then vacuum up.

If your dog or cat has an ear infection:

Identify the root cause.

Address the root cause while you get started on treating the symptoms.

You’ll find information on common causes and options for natural treatment here.


And one more thing…


Are Borax and boric acid really a “green, eco-friendly” product?


Not really.


Large-scale boron mining has a hefty ecological footprint that includes: large scale open-pit mines, tailing piles and extensive use of water for settling ponds.



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Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats