The Pet Factor: How Cancer Impacts Your Furry Friends



This article was written and provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Virgil Anderson


Cancer in dogs and cats has been widely documented for many years. Rare cancers, such as mesothelioma, lack researching funds because few pets are brought to researchers’ attentions. More information in regard to pets, cancer and therapy is starting to emerge as scientists understand the critical relationship between them. Learn how the pet factor is influencing cancer research and recovery today.

Asbestos Exposure Revealed

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that pet dogs come down with mesothelioma at rapid paces when the owner has asbestos exposure. The asbestos doesn’t have to be in the home either. Owners track in the harmful fibers through their shoes and clothes. The fibers fall into the home’s carpet where they’re easily breathed in by the pet dogs.

In other cases, a home may be going through a remodeling. Materials pulled from walls, ceilings and floors may contain asbestos. Dogs in the immediate vicinity instantly breathe in the fibers. Cancer doesn’t occur instantaneously, but now there’s a higher probability of tumor growth in that animal.

Rare Form of Cancer in Pets

It’s a reality that mesothelioma is a rare cancer in dogs and other furry pets. For this reason, it’s largely overlooked as a research topic. Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer. Tumors form in the lining of the lungs where they create breathing problems at first. Because the cancer is often missed during basic testing, it has a chance to grow into serious stages as a result.

Treating cancer in dogs is possible with similar strategies to human treatments. Chemotherapy might be suggested. Because of high costs, pet owners typically choose palliative care as the animal lives out its last days. Losing a pet is a devastating situation, which is why more research is necessary in this area.

Including Pets in Cancer-Recovery Positions

Pet therapy has become a phenomenon in the medical field. Pet owners may be concerned about their dogs developing lung cancer, but there are thousands of people who deal with this ailment every day. To complicate the diagnosis, cancer treatments can be hard on the mind and body. That’s why pet therapy dogs are so crucial to patient success.

There’s an emotional bond between humans and dogs, states Science Daily. This bond gives the patients strength as they deal with radiation or chemotherapy. Although a dog’s presence in a cancer-patient’s room might seem benign, there’s evidence of its real benefits.

The Scientific Facts

Doctors have noticed that patients are more willing to take on challenging treatments when therapy dogs are present at the facility. Patients might pet the dog before a treatment, which calms everybody system from the anticipated stress. After the treatment, another cuddling session with the animal relaxes the patient again. When cancer treatments are perceived as less invasive or painful, patients can take on the challenge to get better. These happy feelings also improve recovery. Those same therapy dogs might visit the patients between treatments too. Every encounter is positive, which boosts the patient’s spirits to continually fight the ailment.

Growing the Field

Therapy dogs are becoming commonplace in medical facilities today. CBS News reports that nonprofit groups are coming together to match trained dogs with volunteers for hospital visits. This growing field doesn’t require much in the way of money. Organizations simply need the dedicated people and happy dogs to complete the work.

Volunteers work with a small group of dogs so that every bond is special. Those dogs are usually docile types that enjoy being cuddled or petted. Volunteers keep the pets clean and groomed so that any dander is minimized in a hospital environment. If dogs can change the way people feel about cancer treatment, more lives can be saved.

Asbestos exposure among dogs continues to be a problem, especially for outdoor pets, states the Daily Mail. With increased awareness of asbestos and mesothelioma occurrences, eradicating this harmful cancer may be possible in the next several decades for both humans, canines and felines.

Virgil is a lung cancer survivor