Dear Old Trainer: Your column on chemicals in flea medications ("Beware mainstream flea medication," May 11) was well done and got me thinking. We use a commercial service to apply pesticide to our lawn. Will that affect our dogs Max and Katy?
-- Anne, Amarillo, Texas
A: Yes. And the effects are devastating.
Every study I found in my research indicates that dogs in homes where chemicals are applied to lawns are 70 percent to 170 percent more likely to develop cancer. And some breeds, such as the Scottish terrier, develop cancer at rates five times those numbers.
Lawn pesticides contain a number of toxic chemicals, including 2,4-D, a primary component in Agent Orange, the chemical used during the Vietnam War that caused cancer in many of our soldiers. It is so toxic to children its use is prohibited on school yards throughout the country.
It is even more toxic to dogs because they get it directly on their skin, paws, and can even ingest it when they eat grass. And once on the skin and fur of a dog, it can be transferred to adults and children through petting.
Pity the poor dog who has toxic chemicals applied in flea products, plus plays on a lawn treated with more toxic chemicals. Constant exposure to chemicals used by humans is the reason cancer rates are so high in dogs.
Dogs have 35 times the rate of skin cancer as humans, 15 times the rate of lymphoma, nine times the rate of bone cancer and twice the rate of leukemia.
Half of all dogs over 10 years of age die of cancer. One third of all dogs die of cancer. More dogs die of cancer than any other disease. And the rates are even worse for cats because they lick their skin and fur.
The best thing any owner can do for their pets is find an organic alternative to these chemicals. Read the label on any product you use. If it's toxic to humans it's even more toxic to pets.
Dear Old Trainer: You never mention cats in your columns. Do you have any? Do you even like cats?
-- Elise, Auburn
A: Yes and yes. I have Bob, a cat who thinks he is a dog, and I love him the same as I do the rest of the pack. He strolled up to us one day on our walk, meowing at the top of his lungs. We stopped to see if he was OK and he started loving on the dogs like they were old pack buddies.
He must have been raised with dogs because he hangs out with them all day, won't come in the house unless they do and won't eat unless I feed him next to them. He even likes dog food. He loves my pack, but wants to fight any strange dog that comes along. He curls up in the dog house next to Rocky, my biggest dog, on cold nights.
He was sleek and fat when he joined us, so he wasn't a stray. I asked around and posted pictures of him, but where he came from is still a mystery.
Just more proof that dogs and cats are not natural enemies.
Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained, and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.