Canine mesothelioma usually strikes older dogs. The average age at the onset of the cancer is eight years. However, canine mesothelioma has been confirmed in puppies as young as seven weeks, and in 15-year-old (elderly) dogs. There are also several breeds that are more likely to develop canine mesothelioma:
- Irish Setter
- Bouvier des Flandres
- German Shepherd
The suspected cause of canine mesothelioma is the same as the cause of mesothelioma cancer in humans: asbestos exposure . In dogs as in humans, the mesothelium is the tissue lining of the chest cavity, and this is where the cancer is usually located. Asbestos fibers become lodged internally and initiate a tumor in the mesothelium, lungs, pericardium, or elsewhere.
Symptoms of Canine Mesothelioma Cancer
Dog owners usually find out that their dog has this cancer when one or more of the following symptoms are present:
- abdominal discomfort
- respiratory distress – painful, difficult breathing or shortness of breath
- abnormally rapid breathing
- exercise intolerance
- difficulty moving
How Do Dogs Get Mesothelioma Cancer?
It may seem odd for a dog to get a rare cancer that isn’t even very well known among humans, but the suspected cause of canine mesothelioma is the same as for humans – the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos cancer fibers. In contrast to humans, though, dogs may get mesothelioma from licking asbestos fibers off the ground or even off their human companions, who may have brought the asbestos home from their worksites.
Dogs can also be exposed to toxic asbestos fibers when they are in the midst of a renovation of their home. Millions of older residences in the U.S. have asbestos components such as drywall, insulation, and bricks, and when the asbestos is disturbed in a renovation (or simply deteriorating from age), a dog may inhale or ingest the loose, airborne fibers.
Dogs that roam a neighborhood freely may also encounter asbestos at a construction site, or even simply in the air in towns that are near an asbestos mine or a shipyard.
What Can You Do for Your Dog?
If you think that your dog might have canine mesothelioma, take your pet to a veterinarian for testing and treatment. You can also contact mesothelioma treatment centers for assistance in locating a veterinarian who is familiar with mesothelioma treatment for dogs.