Monday, December 13, 2010

Do You Have a Toxic Household?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the pleural lining of the lung caused by "plaque" or thickening of the pleura due to asbestos exposure. Many people over the years have suffered from this disease. But people are not the only victims of this type of cancer. Dogs can be stricken with this disease as well.

Asbestos is a building material used from the 1930s to 1980s in many indoor structures and was a favorite among builders due to its low conductivity to heat and low incidences of burning or melting. Exposure to asbestos occurs when fibers are inhaled through the mouth and nose and settle in the lungs as a result of living or working in a building that was constructed using asbestos. Because of the strong link between asbestos and mesothelioma, asbestos is no longer used in building materials.

You and your pet could be at risk if you live or work in an affected building, or work or are exposed to demolition or repair of buildings containing asbestos. Your pet and family members are even at a high risk of exposure through "secondhand" asbestos exposure from fibers you may bring home with you.

Jackie Clark is an Outreach Coordinator with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance and has kindly provided us with information about this toxic substance as well as other toxins that your pet may be exposed to in your homes. Please take a minute to review this important information:

Keeping Your Pet Safe: Hidden Danger of Household Toxins

Most of us know that exposure to household toxins like asbestos can lead to mesothelioma in humans; animals are just as susceptible to common hazards. Understanding that there are hidden dangers lurking around their house, pet owners can keep their furry friends safe, healthy and ultimately protected.

Most pet owners know to keep dangerous materials away from their animals such as cleaning supplies, people food and antifreeze, because any inquisitive pet easily ingests those items. However, there are more household items overlooked by pet owners that are equally as dangerous that a pet may ingest or inhale.

Household garbage poses the single, largest threat to any pets’ health. Animals are drawn to the smelly refuse, typically looking for delicious scraps of people food left over. Especially with dogs, picking through the trash to find the tastiest bits is not practical; instead, any trash that smells good is munched.

This is a terrible hazard since garbage cans hold a smorgasbord of household waste including medications, paper towels used for cleaning, and even batteries. Broken glass, say from a light bulb, can cut an animals’ gums or tongue, and can cause horrible damage to the esophagus or stomach if swallowed.

Many pet owners do not know the threat airborne toxins can have on their furry shadows. Inhalation of any toxin, like bleach vapors, secondhand smoke or paint fumes not only have damaging health risks for people, but also for pets. Animals are naturally curious, exploring the world through their sense of smell or taste, simply investigating what their owners are doing can be risky.

Though most pet owners understand the dangers cleaning supplies can pose for their animals, but what is often missed are the hazards of home renovations. Construction dust, insulation particles, asbestos or mold, common side effects of any renovation project, are also unsafe for animals.

Anything that is toxic for people is also toxic for pets. This overlooked hazard can often cause silent, yet deadly diseases in pets. Especially with inhaled toxins, animals can develop respiratory problems, circulatory disorders or cancer.

Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe

Simply, if it is unsafe or unhealthy for humans, it is also for animals. By following a few easy rules, any pet owner can keep their animals happy and healthy.

  • Keep trashcans securely covered.
  • Do not put unused or expired medications in the trash or down the drain. Many communities have safe ways to get rid of medications through local refuse collection sites.
  • For cleaning or renovation projects, wear a protective mask and coverings, have proper ventilation and keep pets away.
  • Do not leave any hazardous items on the floor, counters, tables or anywhere a pet can easily access.
  • Keep dangerous products, like cleaning supplies, renovation materials or unsafe people food in a locked cabinet. Since many pets are able to open cabinets easily, attach child locks.
  • For any extended home renovation including painting, tiling, wallpapering, sanding or refinishing surfaces, keep pets out of the house. If the renovation lasts more than a day, keep pets at a friend’s house or a kennel. Animals can not only ingest or inhale hazardous materials, there is also a threat of animals stepping on nails, glass, insulation or broken tile.
  • Always inspect pets’ mouths, eyes, ears and feet to see any telltale signs of naughty behavior.

The most important way pet owners can protect their furry friends is to use common sense. Remember “If it is dangerous for me, it is dangerous for them.” For many pet owners, having an inquisitive shadow is so common that sometimes they can forget what they are doing may not be healthy for their animals.

By keeping a watchful eye on your curious friend, you can keep them safe and healthy. If you suspect that your pet ingested or inhaled a toxin, seek immediate veterinary care.


ASPCA. Tobacco is Toxic for Toto, Too. Accessed on December 2, 2010. (

ASPCA. Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2009. Accessed on December 2, 2010. (

HOTLR is grateful to Jackie Clark for providing us this important information. For more information on Mesothelioma please check out:

1 comment:

  1. Until I started making and selling Pet Support Suits for disabled pets, I really had no idea of the number of cancer-related amputations that are performed, particularly on dogs. However, as many, many of our client pets are amputees, and one of our vendors, Tripawds, addresses this issue specifically above all other canine medical conditions, I have become well aware of the overwhelming scope of the problem. If I could make one recommendation to pet owners, it would be to eliminate all chemicals from your yard, in an effort to preserve their pets health.
    -Eric Swisher
    Animal Suspension Technology