Dogs can help us discover the link between common household chemicals and several types of human cancers, but they can get sick, too. According to the latest study published in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology, dogs that share their living space with humans, are essentially inhaling, absorbing and retaining the same chemicals as their family.
The scientists collected the data from exposure to pesticides, OPEs (organophosphate esters), phthalates, BFRs (flame retardants), and PCBs (polychlorinated bisphenyls). These are usually found in garden products, disinfectants, pest poisons, cosmetics, plastic and vinyl toys, vinyl and certain wood flooring, plastic food wraps, detergents, baby products, mattresses and foam furniture, just to name a few. Many substances have already been linked to disease in humans, but the problem has often been about the length between the exposure to chemicals and the onset of symptoms. With their smaller bodies, the dogs do not only absorb the potentially carcinogenic agents, but can develop the disease at a much faster rate.
Whilst it is certainly a welcomed discovery in terms of our health, the research, in my view, is a very valid factor and reminder for every dog parent to be incredibly vigilant when choosing their household products, cosmetics, food items, containers, dog toys and bowls.
I have talked about this link in my book through so many pages, you could have easily mistaken me for a mad woman obsessed with “clean living”. In reality, my ideas have always been based on my nutrition background, experience and all the evidence-based scientific research that has been conducted over the years (and something I had to be aware of due to my job and simply because I love science).
There hasn’t been many studies that focused specifically on canine healths, but the ones I would like to mention here are the link between herbicides and increased risk of bladder cancer in dogs (some of them have also been shown to increase the risk of hormonal problems, liver disease and breast cancer in people, and I do believe they may have the same effect on dogs), dog’s exposure to pesticides in garden products and risk of canine malignant lymphoma, BPA lining in cans of many pet foods and potential endocrine issues in dogs (in women BPA is associated with increased risk of endometriosis), increased infertility and reduced sperm quality in both dogs and humans after exposure to phthalates, increased occurrences of dermatitis and allergic reactions in dogs living in urban environment, and potential link between air fresheners and respiratory disease in dogs. And since the exposure to daily household chemicals has also been found to lead to obesity, behavioural and learning issues in humans, I would not be surprised if the dogs turned out to be at risk, too. On the other hand (and to put your mind at rest) the common flea treatments have not shown to be linked to cancers in dogs even though they do contain pesticides.
Fortunately, this part of our lives can be altered relatively easy because we now have such a fantastic choice of cleaner and more natural products to suit every need, from cleaning our homes to prettifying faces. Not only it will be good for us and the planet, but it will keep our dogs safe and healthy. It’s a win-win for everyone.