My dog Pony loves to roll on various lawns while she’s out on a walk. It looks like I’ll have to discourage this behavior from here on out. A study has come out linking lawn pesticides to canine malignant lymphoma or CML. Unfortunately, specific pesticides or insect growth regulators were not identified as being more dangerous than others.
But as a general precaution, dog owners should never use pesticides on their lawns or anywhere the dog regularly plays on. Dog owners should also discourage their dogs from rolling or going onto strangers’ lawns because you do not know if they used pesticides or not. Some lawn care companies do place brightly colored flags or signs on newly sprayed lawns, but not all companies do this.
The latest study was undertaken by the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at the Cumming’s School of Veterinary Medicine (a part of Tufts University.) 478 dogs took part in the study with 266 dogs already diagnosed with CML. This six year study (2000 to 2006) did suggest that insect growth regulators may play a large role in increasing a dog’s chance of developing CML, but more research needs to be done to establish a definite link between the chemical and canine lymphoma.
Dog owners have long wondered if exposure to pesticides can make a dog get cancer. Another study centering on canine bladder cancer published in the April 15, 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association. However, that study only centered on Scottish terriers (Scotties) and did not include a variety of dog breeds. Scotties were chosen as test subjects because they have a higher incidence of developing bladder cancer than most other breeds.
Both studies noted that some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to some cancers more than others. The 2012 study, unfortunately, did not mention what dog breeds were included in the study, only that 75% were purebreds and 25% mongrels. Future studies would ideally note if some breeds were more resistant to lawn pesticides than others.
The Whole Dog Journal points out that CML occurs mostly in boxers, golden retrievers, Saint Bernards, basset hounds, bulldogs, bullmastiffs, Airedale terriers and Scottish terriers. Keep in mind that mongrels can also be diagnosed with CML or bladder cancer.
Dog caretakers have to stop taking for granted that any lawn is safe for their dogs to romp on. Businesses are more likely to spray their lawns than private homes, but plenty of home owners still use generous amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Dogs should be discouraged from running, rolling or eating anything off of a lawn not known to be safe or not. Dogs can still take their flea and tick prevention medications.
Canine Cancer.com “Bladder Cancer.”
Merck Veterinary Manual. “Canine Malignant Lymphoma: Introduction.”