Is medical science ignorant?
This is quite a loaded question. When you are coping with a canine cancer diagnosis, it may feel at times like the answer is yes. Let’s take a closer look at the fog surrounding dog cancer causes and the dollar that keeps you in the dark.
A spot-on word that is not used much is “agnotology“. This is the deliberate creation of ignorance in an effort to control people. Agnotology has been used in Nazi Germany, the diamond industry, military weapon development, and in another industry that has killed many…big tobacco.
What does this have to do with dog cancer?
Most are now aware, despite the tobacco industry’s efforts, that second-hand smoke causes health problems in people. Many do not know that the same is true in dogs. Whether intentionally created or not, there is a veil of ignorance in this area.
So let’s do one of the first steps in attacking canine cancer: information gathering.
It would seem that maybe dogs are indeed exposed to second hand smoke, right? But wait. Don’t dogs have an amazing sense of smell? Wouldn’t a dog just move away from second-hand cigarette smoke?
The answer is no. They simply endure it, without protest.
But what’s the evidence of this? Do they really inhale?
To answer this question, let’s look at what is arguably the most addictive substance in our society: nicotine.
If nicotine is inhaled, it is broken down in a dog’s body into a substance called cotinine. It turns out that cotinine is found in the urine of dogs who live in homes with smokers. This tells us that they are indeed inhaling the smoke.
The more smoking, the more cotinine found in the dogs. Older dogs and dogs with longer noses ended up with more smoke markers in their bodies than other dogs do.
But is there a link between second hand smoke and dog cancer?
A study found that nasal cancers in dogs, in particular older dogs with longer muzzles, occur much more frequently in dogs that live with smokers. Breeds with longer muzzles are called dolichocephalic breeds. Some examples are the Collie, Dachshund, Greyhound, Borzoi and so on.
Nasal cancer in dogs affects the nose itself, or the nasal sinuses. The most common are the sarcomas and carcinomas. They are generally very tough cancers to deal with, since many of them cannot be removed with surgery.
People have a way of excluding other living things when considering consequences of actions. Second hand tobacco smoke is a prime example. Dogs share our environments, just like other family members, neighbors, and the community at large.
They are exposed to all of the hazardous effects of modern living: diet, stress, and the ever-present carcinogens found all around us.
It’s time we started expanding our viewpoint and protecting them too. For those who wish to learn more, check out The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
Best to all,
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.