It’s shocking when your vet tells you that your dog has cancer. For more people, it comes right out of left field and their first question is usually “How did this happen?!?”
Unfortunately, there are no clear cut answers. There are many things that may cause dog cancer, one of them being exposure to carcinogens. Carcinogens aren’t the only cause of cancer but they are proven to cause cells to divide uncontrollably. Here are some common carcinogens when it comes to canine cancer:
Nitrates, Nitrites, and Ethoxyquin:
Nitrates and nitrates are preservatives that are found in meats like bacon and sausage; they are also found in various brands of dog food. When these things are digested they combine with nitrogen-containing substances in the stomach and form N-nitroso comppouds. N-nitroso compounds are carcinogens.
Many dog foods contain fish meal. Fish meal commonly contains ethoxyquin, which is another carcinogen that has shown to affect the kidneys.
This is what you get when commercial dog food is cooked. All the ingredients are cooked at a really high temperature and the byproduct of that are the heterocutic amines, which are known carcinogens. If you’re wondering whether or not this ingredient is “listed” on the bags it’s not. It wasn’t there until after the food was mixed so it’s not required to be put on the label. More natural food is always best for your dog.
I’m sure we’ve all heard of this one and immediately think of old insulation; we know that is causes cancer. All building materials are now required to be made without asbestos. Unfortunately, there can be asbestos in our drinking water. This isn’t to alarm you but it has been found. Exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma, a cancer in the skull. Dogs can get it, too. Have your tap water checked.
Another potential danger in our drinking water is prescription drugs. Studies show that small amounts of pharmaceuticals are present in our drinking water. Active agents in birth control pills, chemo, antidepressants, etc are in our water. Ingesting all these different kinds of drugs over time is not good for us, or our dogs. Use purified water whenever possible.
In the Air:
Secondhand smoke, fumes from kerosene and coal heaters, chemical solvents and paints, the hydrocarbons that are released when vehicles use gasoline, pesticides and herbicides, etc. are just a few things in the air that are carcinogens. Dogs are just as easily exposed to all of this stuff as we are. Whenever possible, try to limit their exposure (and yours!).
These are just a few agents that are known carcinogens. Again, carcinogens are just things that cause cells to divide abnormally. Exposure to these things does not necessarily guarantee that your dog will get cancer. Cancer is often caused by a “perfect storm” of many different factors which make it hard to pinpoint just one specific cause.
I know that dog parents often blame themselves when their dog gets cancer. I advise you to acknowledge that feeling and then move on. It’s not your fault. Focus your energy on doing everything you can to help your dog get well.