How did my dog get cancer?
When faced with a dog cancer diagnosis, this question needs to be answered.
Most have heard of carcinogens. For many, carcinogens are kind of “out there”, something that we have heard of and may have disregarded.
For others, carcinogens are important.
Especially if they are close to us.
Do carcinogens matter to dogs? Well, there is a clear association between insecticide use and transitional cell carcinoma, and a link between second hand smoke and nasal tumors in dogs with short and medium length muzzles. We have a puny amount of data compared to what is out there.
In many locations across the country are found hot spots of carcinogens. I worked for a while in an area that was close to the most famous of these, the Love Canal.
The Love Canal was a residential community that was built over a waste site. An article by the former Region 2 Administrator of the EPA describes the result. The drums of waste leaked into the soil and the families there suffered horribly in the late ’70’s. Many were relocated.
Pinpointing the effects of these hazardous chemicals has been fraught with complications. Bladder and kidney cancers, as well as reproductive problems have been some possible outcomes. Time will tell, as the group of former residents are still fairly young, with decades to develop cancers.
People living in areas like these report fairly consistently more headaches and fatigue. There are also increased cancer rates and other health problems in families living near these areas. Although it is true that definitely pinpointing dumping sites as the cause may never be possible, these sites contain high carcinogen levels, it seems rational that the higher cancer rates would be caused by these chemicals.
And of course, the next question is, what about the dogs? They are likely exposed to these carcinogens more than the humans, being literally closer to the ground and doing things that dogs do.
Was the Love Canal an isolated event? No, it was not. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one group that oversees our safekeeping with respect to carcinogen exposure. There are areas around the US that are called “National Priority Sites” by the EPA. These are hotbeds of carcinogens in the environment. How many? Ten? Twenty?
No, more than that by far. There are 1279 final National Priority Sites as of March 26, 2010. I accessed a database of these sites and found that pristine Hawaii has three sites with documented environmental carcinogens in the soil due to large amounts of industrial contamination. This is three more than I expected, even considering that there are 1279 of these sites.
The EPA is doing its best to clean these areas up. Remember, these are the good guys. Nonetheless, if you would like more information about carcinogens near you, here is the website. The information is indexed by State, making it quite simple to get the information you need.
For more information on the how’s and why’s of dog cancer, check out The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.