Canaries in the Coal Mine

What Pets Can Tell Us About Our Health

With a huge rise in cancer in dogs and cats—50 percent of dogs will get cancer and 43 percent of cats—what are they mirroring in their pet parents? Cancer and chronic medical issues are plaguing humans as well. A recent article in The Washington Post “What Your Pet’s Health Says About You” points out that veterinarians often see a correlation to an animal’s health problem—including allergies, hypothyroid, anxiety, GI issues, autoimmune issues and cancer—with that of someone very close to the animal.

It is upsetting when we talk of cancer. We wonder if that animal is revealing a threat to the family. Our pets live in our homes, drink our water, are exposed to the same chemicals we are in our water, carpets and couches, and the pesticides in our lawns and food chain. They are surrounded by electromagnetic fields in phones, smart homes and Wi-Fi, just as we are. We are sickening animals and ourselves 24/7 and don’t even know it. Could our pets, who love us unconditionally, be our little canaries in the coal mine?

Finding a doctor to examine this and respect this understanding of an animal’s issues is challenging, but worth the effort. Pay attention to your dogs and cats; if they have allergies, look at the quality of food they are being fed. Look at the chemicals that are going on and in them. Seek out healthcare providers that respect these concerns and that can help you find integrative, complementary and alternative ways to make your pet and yourself healthier.

Margo Roman, DVM, CVA, COT ,CPT, FAAO, is a veterinarian at MASH Vet (Main St. Animal Services of Hopkinton). She has practiced integrative and functional veterinary medicine for almost 40 years. For more information, visit or

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