Pets Are at Risk for Mesothelioma Too Friday 02 September 2016 @ 10:39

Malignant mesothelioma is not a common type of cancer. In fact, it only accounts for about one percent of all human deaths from malignant cancer. It may be rare, but a diagnosis of mesothelioma is most often fatal and the major risk factor for developing it is exposure to asbestos. For people exposed to this mineral, the risk should be taken seriously, but what not everyone realises is that exposure can also put a person’s pets at risk for this deadly type of cancer.

How Are Pets Exposed to Asbestos?

Pets are exposed to this harmful mineral in the same way that people are. The natural mineral is fibrous and releases fragments into the air. If asbestos is well contained it won’t do this, but too often it is exposed and the fibres get into the air where both humans and animals can inhale it and run the risk of becoming ill as a result.

Asbestos is found in older homes and buildings, mostly as insulation in walls, roofing materials, and around pipes. It has been used extensively on ships as well. If a person has been exposed at home, or even at work, a pet can be exposed too. Workers exposed to the mineral on a daily basis may bring it home on their clothes.

Another way a dog, in particular, can be exposed to asbestos and put at risk for developing mesothelioma is through search and rescue work. These dogs and their handlers may be entering buildings with exposed asbestos or ruins of buildings in which the asbestos has become exposed and therefore, could be inhaling it as they work.

Signs of Mesothelioma in a Pet

Vet VisitAs with humans, signs of mesothelioma rarely show up until exposure to asbestos has been going on for some time. Unfortunately, this means that by the time it is diagnosed the disease is likely to be advanced and difficult to treat. In pets, especially cats and dogs, signs of mesothelioma include:

  • Shallow and difficult breathing, especially troubling in cats at rest
  • Coughing
  • A swollen and distended belly, which is caused by fluid buildup
  • Loss of interest in playing or walking
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting

Treating Mesothelioma in Pets

Mesothelioma is tough to diagnose in humans and even tougher in pets. However, your pet may be diagnosed with this cancer or with lung cancer. If you know that asbestos exposure is a possibility, you and your vet may be able to better confirm the diagnosis of mesothelioma.

Treating mesothelioma does not usually cure the disease. A dog or cat with this type of cancer may not be given very long to live. However, there are treatments that can help a pet live longer and feel more comfortable. Surgery or chemotherapy may relieve pain and help a beloved pet live in more comfort for the time it has left.

Having a pet diagnosed with any type of cancer, let alone this terrible cancer, is devastating. It may be that exposure to asbestos was the fault of the owner’s employer or other working conditions. People struggling with asbestos-related conditions often file lawsuits seeking justice and compensation and a pet’s suffering may be a part of that suit. Taking the step to sue will not make a pet better, but it can help a pet owner pay for expensive treatments that will improve that beloved animal’s comfort level.