Canines, Cancer, and Golf Courses

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by Jo-De Davis, guest blogger 

 

Jake was a gentle giant, a lanky collie mix with a plumed tail, and his best friend was Prancer, who was a small, lively shih tzu. They romped and played on our neighborhood golf course regularly. They ate the grass, rolled in the rough, and practiced being good boys by staying off of the green and the bunkers. But, after nine years of romping and rolling, they were both diagnosed with spleen cancer and eventually died from this terrible disease.

In a recent issue,  “Golf Digest” recommended that you take your dog to the golf course. Sure, there is plenty of space to run after frisbees and chase the old groundhog that lives under the tree on the ninth hole. But, if your dog exercises frequently on the fairway, he may be accelerating his chances of developing cancer. And he may not have a mulligan in his back pocket. A commonly-used pesticide, 2,4-D, has been causally associated with malignancies in dogs. This poison is saturating local golf courses, athletic fields, landscaped yards, and even your dog park.

For decades, scientific studies have shown correlations of topical defoliants (such as 2, 4-D) with cancer.  A six-year study by Tufts University indicated that exposure to lawn pesticides raised the risk of canine cancer as much as 70%. Publications such as the Journal of Toxicology & Environmental Health, Science of the Total Environment, and even The New York Times have substantiated this subject. Remember the notorious herbicide, Agent Orange?  2, 4-D is one of its two active ingredients. And it continues to be one of the top three pesticides sold in the nation.

Lots of lawn and garden chemicals can wreak havoc on your four-legged family member. 2, 4-D (dichlorophenoxyacetic) acid is the most serious in risk factors. It is in Bayer, Ortho, Scott’s, and Sta-Green products. The following ingredients have also been shown to be dangerous:

  • Mancozeb
  • Chlorothalonil
  • MCPP (4-chloro-2 methylphenoxy propionic) acid

Plastic bubbles work for hamsters, but not dogs. Please keep your dog’s environment safer and unrestricted by practicing some of the following steps:

  • Reduce the toxic load in your yard by using a natural, pest-deterrent that is chemical-free. (National Resources Defense Council’s website has plenty of suggestions.)
  • Support local initiatives to get pesticide by-laws enacted. A good place to start is by avoiding insecticides with IGRS (insect growth regulators).
  • Keep your pup on surfaces that haven’t been treated with pesticides (walkways, footpaths).
  • Your pooch’s feet and tummy are the most contaminated areas on his body. If you feel he has come into contact with deadly chemicals, give him a foot soak and rinse off his legs and belly.

One of a dog’s finest wishes is to have a lush, green lawn or nearby grassy expanse on which she can frolic, dig, and nose about. However, dogs (at least most) don’t wear shoes and outerwear that they can change when they come home from outside play. Modify your best friend’s environment so it limits outside contaminants. Hopefully, doing this will extend her companionship for many more enjoyable years.

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