Sharing the same environment

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Dogs have a much shorter average lifespan than humans and are much more sensitive to some toxins, so they have the potential to reveal certain forms of pollution in our environment that we are unable to detect.

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We have more recently learned that studying diseases or simply biological modifications in dogs, which live alongside humans and share our lifestyle, can help us detect, at an early stage, contamination that can also affect us. Dogs have a much shorter average lifespan than humans and are much more sensitive to some toxins, so they have the potential to reveal certain forms of pollution in our environment that we are unable to detect

Pollution markers are looked for in blood, urine, hair, saliva, milk, expired air and sometimes tissues. Procedures that do not affect the dog’s quality of life are favoured.

In Alaska, for example, studies have been conducted to measure mercury concentrations in the hairs of sled dogs fed on a diet of salmon from the Yukon, which flows through a gold washing region where the risk of mercury pollution is higher than normal.

On the other side of the United States, dogs that played a huge part in the search for survivors and, sadly, bodies in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers were monitored as part of a long-term study by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. The purpose of the study was to find out whether the presence of large quantities of asbestos at Ground Zero provoked an increased occurrence of mesothelioma, so as to evaluate the necessity of preventive treatment in human emergency response personnel.

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