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Millions of homes have asbestos. Has your pet been exposed?

The scientific community agrees that exposure to asbestos may lead to a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma. Did you know that your pets may be at risk as well?

Millions of homes contain asbestos, thanks to the naturally-occurring minerals' wide use up until the 1978 Clean Air Act. In the U.S., physicians diagnose about 3,000 new cases each year. While widely studied in humans, there are few studies on the effects on dogs and cats.

Study on pets with mesothelioma

In 2008, there was a key study on pets diagnosed with mesothelioma. The study involved three family pets: two dogs and one cat, who all had mesothelioma. Like their human companions, the study revealed no cure for malignant mesothelioma in dogs or cats. In both humans and pets, the symptoms appear in late stages of the disease, long after exposure occurred.

Safety tips

A general rule of thumb is that, unless disturbed, products made from asbestos in a home pose no immediate threat. Here are some tips for avoiding asbestos exposure for both you, and your pets:

  • If someone in your home works around asbestos, be mindful that the fibers may come home on clothing or skin.
  • Do not disturb building materials in your home without first verifying they are free of asbestos.
  • If you have asbestos in your home, be sure that your pets cannot access the source and disturb the fibers without your knowledge.
  • Ensure that your pet is out of the home during any renovations. Their paws can easily track materials containing asbestos throughout the house, endangering everyone.

The symptoms of mesothelioma in pets and humans are similar and are typically characterized by respiratory distress, lethargy and a persistent cough. If you suspect exposure to asbestos fibers, it is imperative that you get immediate medical attention.

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