Exploring Links Between Toxin Exposure and Canine Cancer

Cancer researchers know exposure to certain substances increases the likelihood of cancer in people. Examples include smoking and exposure to UV light, secondhand smoke, asbestos, and benzene. The list of known associations among people is long and growing. But what about dogs and cats?

The data can be confusing due to a lack of good studies looking closely at pet exposures and cancer. However, a new study using samples and data from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study could provide important information for dog and cat owners when it comes to cancer and environmental toxins.

Dr. Lauren Trepanier, a Foundation-funded cancer researcher and Assistant Dean for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is using samples from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study to look for links between environmental toxin exposures and the development of lymphoma in dogs.

Although lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer affecting dogs, not much is known about its origins. Studies show a strong link between exposure to compounds such as benzene and the development of lymphoma in people, and Dr. Trepanier hypothesizes the same will hold true for dogs. Dr. Trepanier is measuring similar compounds in the urine and blood of Study dogs diagnosed with lymphoma to see if a connection exists.

“We’ll be looking at samples collected in the year prior to diagnosis as well as those collected at the time of diagnosis,” said Dr. Trepanier. “It’s helpful to look at two time points, which makes these study samples incredibly valuable.”

Results from the new study could help dog owners learn how to minimize exposure to cancer-causing compounds and potentially reduce the risk that lymphoma holds for their dogs.