Paws and Pollution: The Hidden Dangers for You and Your Dog

In the present world, pollution has become an omnipresent menace. Under such circumstances, it’s crucial to recognize the profound impact it can have on our lives and the lives of our beloved pets.

Dr. Gabrielle Fadl, the Director of primary care at Bond Vet Clinic, NYC, sheds light on this matter on CNN. According to Dr. Fadl, exposure to polluted air can lead to respiratory issues, allergies, and even asthma. 

Dogs, being loyal companions, often accompany us on walks, adventures, and daily routines, exposing them to various pollutants in the environment. From air and water pollution to the contamination of everyday items, the consequences can be severe for both dogs and their owners.

In this article, we look into a few ways pollution can influence the well-being of your pooch.

Respiratory Distress

One of the most noticeable and immediate effects of pollution on dogs is respiratory distress. Air pollution, characterized by high levels of particulate matter and harmful gasses, can lead to respiratory issues in dogs. Dogs with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or bronchitis are at greater risk. 

According to NBC News, the US and Canada are currently seeing a surge in canine respiratory diseases. The surge has been spreading since some time last year. In Colorado, for instance, canine pneumonia cases rose by 50 percent from September through November 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.

Prolonged exposure to polluted air can trigger coughing, wheezing, and labored breathing. All this, in turn, diminishes the overall quality of life for your pet.

Skin Allergies

The pollutants in the air don’t just affect your dog’s respiratory system. They can also impact their skin health. 

Dogs are susceptible to developing skin allergies due to exposure to pollutants like pollen, mold spores, and industrial emissions. Irritated skin, excessive itching, and rashes are common signs that your dog may be suffering from pollution-induced skin allergies. 

If the allergic reactions reach a certain stage, your vet might prescribe Prednisone for dogs. This particular medication has anti-inflammatory properties which, as suggested, reduce inflammation. That, in turn, provides your dog relief from skin irritation. 

According to PetCareRx, Prednisone combats allergens by treating the symptoms of low corticosteroid levels. Apart from skin irritation and allergies, Prednisone helps with multiple conditions including inflammatory eye conditions, arthritis, and ulcerative colitis.

Noise Pollution and Anxiety

Beyond the visible pollutants, noise pollution is an often overlooked factor that can negatively impact your dog’s well-being.

Dogs have highly sensitive hearing, and constant exposure to loud noises, like from traffic or construction, can induce anxiety and stress. Prolonged exposure to such high noise levels can cause behavioral changes, including increased aggression and fear in dogs.

Creating a calm and quiet environment at home and during outdoor activities can help alleviate these stressors.

Waterborne Contaminants

Pet parents know how much their dogs love to splash around in puddles and ponds. However, water pollution poses a significant threat to their health. 

Contaminated water sources contain harmful bacteria, toxins, and pollutants that, when ingested or absorbed through the skin, can lead to gastrointestinal issues. Apart from those, coming in contact with contaminated water can lead to kidney problems and other serious consequences.

It’s crucial to ensure that the water sources your dog frequents are safe, but this can prove to be difficult at the moment. According to a study published on ScienceDirect, almost 50 percent of US tap water is contaminated with forever chemicals. Hence, contaminated water has found its way into our major water sources.

Even then, we must make sure that the water we use for ourselves and our dogs is free from contamination before we use it. For that, we must use advanced water treatment procedures if necessary. 

Chemical Exposure

Did you know that our homes are filled with various chemicals? From cleaning products to pesticides, all these items contain chemicals that can cause various adverse reactions in our canine companions.

Dogs, being curious by nature, may come into contact with these substances through licking, chewing, or simply lying on treated surfaces. Common household chemicals can lead to gastrointestinal issues, respiratory distress, or even immune system problems in dogs.

Using pet-friendly and non-toxic alternatives, as well as securing household items out of your dog’s reach, can reduce the risk of chemical exposure.

Plastic and Microplastic Ingestion

The pervasive issue of plastic pollution affects not only the environment but also the health of our dogs.

Plastic items, especially those found inside parks and alongside walking paths, pose a significant risk of ingestion for dogs. Swallowing these plastics can cause choking, gastrointestinal blockages, and, over time, lead to chronic health issues.

Besides, when larger plastic items break down, they release microplastics. These microplastics can find their way into your dog’s system through air, water, and food sources. 

Minimizing your dog’s contact with plastic waste and opting for eco-friendly products can contribute to a healthier environment for both of you.

Altered Exercise Patterns

As pollution levels rise, outdoor activities become riskier for both humans and their canine companions. Poor air quality may force pet owners to limit outdoor exercise, impacting a dog’s physical health and mental well-being.

Lack of regular exercise can contribute to obesity, behavioral issues, and a decline in overall fitness for dogs. Finding alternative indoor activities or seeking out parks with cleaner air can help maintain a healthy exercise routine for your pet.

Long-term Health Implications

The cumulative effect of pollution on your dog’s health can result in long-term consequences that may not be immediately apparent. Prolonged exposure to environmental pollutants can lead to various chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, and even certain types of cancer in dogs.

Regular visits to the vet and vigilant monitoring of your dog’s behavior and health can help detect potential issues early and facilitate timely intervention.

In conclusion, as responsible pet owners, we must understand and address the several ways pollution can impact our dogs. From respiratory distress to noise-induced anxiety, the threats are diverse and far-reaching. However, by taking a proactive approach to minimizing exposure to pollutants, we can create a safer and healthier world for our dogs.