Readers of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide by Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger, his oncologist co-author, often focus on things to do for their dogs. Deciding what to feed, which conventional options to use, using supplements, or mind-body strategies are all important decisions. As the editor, I hope you’ll also take note of the lifestyle changes you can make — like sleeping in a totally dark room, using glass or ceramic bowls to feed your dog, and giving filtered water. Another thing to consider: filter your air for dog cancer.
Why? Poor air quality is a huge problem, as those of us who live in Hawaii (where Dr. Dressler practices and our book publisher is located) have been reminded in a rather dramatic fashion. A volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, the most southern island in the chain, has just started new, very violent activity. We are not directly affected by the lava flow here on Maui, the next island to the north, thankfully, but we are still in great danger from the VOG, or “volcanic SMOG” that is released whenever a volcano is active.
Of course, when a volcano opens up fissures right down the middle of a subdivision, as pictured in the video above, it’s quite obvious that the air is being polluted. You can imagine why I thought to pull out my whole-room air purifier* this morning after watching video footage of those huge plumes of volcanic gas.
The sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide and other chemicals released by the volcano spreads through the air, and the immediate surroundings can be deadly. If the trade winds aren’t blowing the VOG out to sea, it spreads up the island chain, and can be found even as far away as Oahu, a full 200 miles across the ocean.
On “VOGgy” days on Maui I get headaches, fatigue, and a sore throat. VOG is no joke, and constant exposure to it and its cousin air pollutants is downright dangerous, both in the short-term and the long-term. Right now, the trades are strong, and as long as they blow, the rest of the state won’t get much VOG, if any, from this eruption.
But the reality is that winds die down and/or reverse course — in which case, we all expect not only respiratory problems but even acid rain if the weather gets wet. I’m hoping and praying that no one loses their life during this eruption, and that those who have lost and will lose their homes find a safe place to land. (For those wondering how to help from afar, Red Cross Hawaii is the best place to donate.)
But in terms of dog cancer, and preventing it in my two very healthy nine-year-old dogs, the dramatic and unusual circumstances that lead me to close all the windows, run the air conditioning, and filter the air should not be necessary.
I know better. I should be filtering my air a LOT more often than I do.
As Dr. Dressler points out in his book, environmental pollutants in the home is a big problem for dogs, and can absolutely increase the likelihood of cancer developing. If your dog doesn’t seem to be “bothered” by second-hand smoke, he or she is simply being amazingly polite. And even third-hand smoke hurts, as Susan Harper points out.
And so does SMOG — pollution from industry and vehicles that pumps the same particulates I’m so concerned about into the air all over the world. In fact, even household cleaners, paint, laminate flooring, and carpets can release toxins into the air, making our indoor air sometimes even more polluted than the air outside!
And once a dog has a cancer, these air-borne carcinogens can be a real burden on an already over-taxed immune system. So, yeah, you should filter your air for dog cancer. 🙁
So as spring arrives and summer starts up, make sure you open your windows and freshen up out that stale winter air. Vacuum well, clean the walls and the windows … do a deep spring cleaning to get rid of any residue left from the winter. And then, unless you are really confident you live in a place with clean outdoor air, consider getting an air filter. It’s well worth the cost of the electricity — for your dog’s health, and for yours.
I’m tired of feeling discouraged about how many things in our environment can harm our dogs — and I hate to be afraid of the very air we breathe. But guilt and fear don’t help us or our dogs — so instead, I’m focusing on what DOES help, which is doing better, when we know better.
So, I’m running the air filter 24/7 for the foreseeable future.
With a heavy heart, but hopefully clean air, best wishes to you and your dog.
Editor, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide
* Affiliate link. Please see our disclosure policy for details.
Molly Jacobson is a writer and also the editor of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, published by Maui Media. A lifelong dog lover and self-professed dog health nerd, she is all too familiar with dog cancer. She has been supporting readers of this blog since the beginning. Molly earned a BA from Tufts University, and after a career in bookselling and book publishing attended The Swedish Institute to become a licensed massage therapist in New York State, licensed by the medical board. Her fascination with health is both personal and global, and she is most proud of how this site and the associated publications have revolutionized not only our approach to dog health, but our own health.