Plants & Pets
We all know that pollution is not healthy. Bad air quality can cause respiratory damage and create a greater risk of cardiovascular diseases. But, are you aware that air pollution is also bad for our pets. Degrading air quality is something to blame for the ever-shortening life spans of our beloved pets. While we do care for our pets, what we commonly overlook is the effect of pollution on them. So, what are the risks posed to pets due to poor air quality, and what can be done to reduce the harm?
What is air pollution?
Air pollution is the broad term used to describe a range of airborne pollutants that are harmful to humans, animals, plants and the environment. Pollutants can take many forms including chemicals, gases, solid particles or liquid droplets. Air pollution comes from a variety of sources including both human-made pollutants and natural sources. Not surprisingly, air pollution is more prevalent in urban areas because the emissions from various sources are more concentrated. This may not apply during seasons when wildfires are more prevalent and smoke can span large swaths of the atmosphere. Similarly, many types of indoor air pollution that comes from various sources also pose health risks. Some sources of indoor air pollution are natural such as radon gas which is released by the Earth and can build up in homes. Other common pollutants found indoors are due to insulation, mold, or smoking. Needless to say, it would be difficult to completely avoid exposure to air pollution. However, efforts can be made to reduce the harm caused by air pollution.
How harmful is air pollution to pets?
Many scientific studies have confirmed that pets can be harmed by air pollution. Studies have found dogs that lived in homes where outdoor pesticides were used had a 70 percent higher chance of developing lymphoma, and 33 percent of the dogs were diagnosed with canine malignant lymphoma, a form of cancer. Cats that lived in homes with a high concentration of household indoor air pollutants (second-hand smoke, cooking fumes, household chemicals) had a higher rate of respiratory disease such as feline asthma, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. Pets frequently outdoors can also become prone to the negative health effects caused by pollution. Outdoor dogs exposed to heavy air pollution had increased brain inflammation and the presence of proteins that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Whereas, one in ten cats were diagnosed with asthma related to indoor and outdoor air pollutants, and cats that lived in homes with smokers had severely decreased lung function.
How to reduce the harmful effects of air pollution on your pets
By recognizing the source of poor air quality, you can take steps to protect your entire family, including your furry family members from negative effects of air pollution. To reduce the harm caused by indoor air pollution, it is important to improve the air quality by doing the following: Change air filters regularly; vacuum frequently; do not smoke indoors; find pet-friendly and/or environment-friendly cleaning products, and use air conditioning and/or air purifiers (with clean filters). Steps to reduce the risk of outdoor air pollution include: Avoid exercising your pet near high-traffic areas; do not use chemical pesticides in the lawn; when the air quality is poor outside, keep pets indoors with short trips outdoors; keep pets well hydrated, and time short walks outdoors when the air quality is best. Furthermore, if your pet is having difficulty breathing, or is struggling to breath under normal circumstances, you should seek emergency medical attention.
Smog affects the health of your pet
Smoggy days are bad not just for you, but for your furry friend too! Smog causes severe ailments because of the quality of air they breathe in. It may cause breathing troubles leading to suffocation. This can be fatal for our pets in periods of intense and prolonged exposure.
Remedy: Keeping your pets indoors during phases of smog would greatly help the cause. It is advisable to not take your pet out for a walk during one of those smoggy days. Using a dog air pollution mask is a helpful way to take your dog on a short walk to stretch the legs and go to the bathroom
Passive smoking affects pets
Passive smoke from cigarette smoking is an air quality problem for your dog and pets. A recent study showed that pets in smoke-free homes have healthier lungs than their counterparts living in smoke-prone homes. The passive smoking is detrimental to their lung health as they tend to spend most of their time on the floor.
Remedy: Smoking is not just bad for your health; it affects your pets as well. Establish a separate smoking zone in your homes where your pets will not have access, or better still, quit smoking for good!
Indoor activities can cause cancer!
You might think that being clean is great, and indeed it is, but the fact also depends on certain other factors to be true. Certain indoor activities like cleaning with artificial chemical cleansers and smoking cause adverse effects on your pet’s health. These contain carcinogens which can be directly attributed to causing illnesses like mesothelioma, lung, bladder and nasal cancer in your pets!
Remedy: Go green. Block out artificial carcinogen-laden cleansers and go for more healthy choices so that your pets have all carcinogen-free air to inhale.
Outside pollution affects your pets
Outside pollution also affects your pets. In a survey, it has been observed that dogs in areas of high-pollution levels show increased inflammation of the brain than those living in areas with a relatively low pollution. Pollution may even cause your pet to acquire certain Alzheimer-like illnesses.
Remedy: Taking pets out for walks is obviously essential, but you need to keep in mind to choose an area less polluted by contaminants. Either shift your base to cleaner zones or take out your pets in areas away from roadsides and industries to reduce the effects of pollution.
Using pesticides can be deadly for your dogs
It has been observed that the use of artificial pesticides in personal farms can prove to be deadly to your dog. According to a study, around 30% of the dogs living in homes with artificial pesticide use are diagnosed with canine malignant lymphoma which is a form of cancer. It has also been observed that around 70% of these dogs do actually have a chance of acquiring this deadly disease.
Remedy: Artificial pesticides do more harm than good. With its severe health effects on humans as well as animals, it is better to steer clear of them and opt for the eco-friendlier ones. Your furry friend should not be subjected to such needless risk factors.
Indoor pollution decreases your pet’s lung capacity
It has been found that houses with owners who smoke and pollute the air from burning wood are detrimental to the heath of pets. Cats and dogs in such houses are more prone to catch health problems like asthma and decreased lung functionality.
Remedy: Install a good air purifier, or air filters for central heating and cooling systems, in your house that limits indoor air pollution. The fresher and purer the air inside, the healthier your pets will be.
Using artificial room fresheners affects your pets
While we may want our houses to smell good at all times, this comes with a price. If we go for artificial fresheners containing aerosols, these contaminants are not good for your pet’s health and result in various illnesses of the heart and lungs.
Remedy: Natural flowers work way better than artificial fragrances, and you should opt for them to give your furry friend a well deserved extension of good health.
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