You’re probably already aware of how asbestos exposure can hurt humans. After the inhalation of asbestos, those fibers move down into the lungs, causing lung scarring (asbestosis), lung cancer, and mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest lining). This occurs over a long span of time from exposure due to a workplace or a home with asbestos present and becoming airborne (passively or actively through remodeling). However, often overlooked is asbestos’s danger not to people but to pets, dogs in particular. It’s important to realize that such hazardous materials puts them at risk too.
Types of Pets at Risk from Asbestos Exposure
The majority of studios and examinations on pet exposure to asbestos has been done on larger mammals, particularly cats and dogs. Dogs are more susceptible to asbestos than cats, with certain breeds of dogs (such as Irish Setters, Flanders Cattle Dogs, and German Shepherds) being particularly at risk. Beyond exposure from asbestos from home or brought in from an at-risk profession, pets can also be exposed outdoors. A Labrador in the UK was exposed and got sick from asbestos it encountered in daily walks in the woods, according to the Daily Mail.
Symptoms of Feline and Canine Asbestos Exposure
Much like with humans, most symptoms from asbestos exposure start with respiratory issues and expand to cancer (lung and mesothelioma). Older dogs are more at risk (as exposure has a long latency period), with about 8 years being the average, but it can manifest at any age. Symptoms include:
- Breathing: Difficulty or rapid breathing, or shortness of breath.
- Coughing: Coughing or sneezing – including phlegm or blood.
- Lethargy: Trouble breathing or pain may lead to difficulty moving or exercising.
- Organs: Muffled abdominal sounds, vomiting, or enlarged scrotum (testicular mesothelioma).
Diagnosing Asbestos Exposure of Pets
Just like with humans, there is no easy testing for asbestos exposure for pets. Instead, your veterinarian will look for so-called “sentinel diseases” such as lung cancer. It’s recommended to start with consulting your vet and getting chest and abdominal X-rays. A biopsy will be needed to confirm the presence of cancer. Treatment options vary, and modern veterinarian practices include surgery and chemotherapy.
If your building was built before 1990, it could contain asbestos. For the sake of your loved ones (including your pets), you should get it inspected, especially during these situations. Fiber Control, Inc. specializes in procedures for dealing with asbestos and other hazardous materials. If you’re in Massachusetts or New Hampshire and need asbestos inspection and abatement, we can help. Contact us today.