effects radon household pets

Effects of Radon on Common Household Pets

There are certain harmful substances that are threats to more than just humans, and may also threaten the health and well-being of pets and various animals in your home. Radon is a good example — not only are its effects potentially harmful to humans, they can also have a severe impact on common household pets.

At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re here to help make sure this isn’t an issue in your home. We offer quality radon testing and radon mitigation services for homeowners throughout Colorado, allowing them to ensure everyone in the home is protected at all times — including pets. What percentage of Americans have pets and may need to consider these themes, and what are the risks of radon to common household pets? Let’s go over these themes, plus some quick words on how to mitigate radon and protect your pets if you’ve discovered that radon is present.

Pet Statistics in Households

According to research from the 2021-22 National Pet Owners Survey, roughly 70% of all US households own some type of pet. That equates to about 90.5 million families who own at least one pet — many own more than one.

This is a significant leap from 1988, the first year when this data began being kept. That year, roughly 56% of US households reported owning some type of household pet. Back in 2019, the number was 67%.

As you can see, this number is consistently rising, as more and more people are finding the love and companionship they need in their pets. Anyone with pets, however, should be cognizant of radon levels in their home, both for the pet and for their own health.

Radon Risks to Dogs

Dogs are the single most common household pet in the US, and radon presents multiple risks to them and their health. Radon gas is associated with heavy levels of radioactive byproducts, such as lead, polonium, and bismuth.

Dogs, being close to the ground, are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of radon gas and its byproducts. Here are some of the key risks they face in any home with high radon levels:

  • Respiratory system concerns: Because radon gas is radioactive, it can cause severe damage to the respiratory system over time. This is especially concerning for dogs, as they inhale a great deal more air than humans each day in comparison to their body weight. Those byproducts we mentioned above? They are known to stick within the lungs and cause long-term damage.
  • Cancer risks: Radon gas is also a known carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer in dogs over time. Again, this is due to the radioactive particles it emits. Studies have shown that radon exposure can increase the risk of lung cancer in dogs by as much as 22%.
  • Other mutations: Even if radon doesn’t lead to cancer in your dog, it may lead to other mutations. These may include malignant tumors, skin masses, and bone marrow suppression.

Here are some possible signs that your dog may be developing cancer or other lung conditions due to radon exposure, especially if no other explanation can be revealed for these symptoms:

  • Coughing or breathing trouble
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lameness
  • Fever
  • Hacking
  • Abnormal swelling

However, avoiding the major risks of radon before they reach this point is always the best solution.

Radon Risks to Cats

Cats are also susceptible to the harmful effects of radon gas and its radioactive byproducts, but to a lesser extent than dogs. This is due in part to their grooming habits — cats lick their fur more often than dogs, which helps remove any harmful particles from their coat. They’re also even closer to the ground than most dogs, and are smaller, meaning they inhale less air per day.

The primary risk here, like with many dogs, is lung problems and lung cancer. Cats have a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer when exposed to radon gas over time, as well as a greater risk of other respiratory problems.

Again, though, these aren’t the only issues that may arise. Cats exposed to high levels of radon gas may also experience:

  • Nervous system problems
  • Skin problems
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage

Again, the best way to avoid these risks is to test your home for radon levels and take corrective action if needed. No one wants to see their furry friend suffer from something that could have been prevented.

Proper Radon Testing Frequency

How often you have your home’s radon levels tested will depend on a few things, including:

  • Prior testing results: If you’ve had your home tested for radon in the past and the results were within safe levels, you may not need to test again for a few years.
  • The age of your home: If your home is newer, it’s likely that the construction materials used will help keep radon levels low. As homes age, they become more susceptible to radon gas, so testing more often may be necessary.
  • Radon levels in your area: Your home’s radon levels will vary depending on where you live. If you live in an area with high levels of the gas, you’ll need to test more often than if you live in an area with low levels.

The best way to determine how often you should test your home for radon is to talk to your local radon specialist with Absolute Radon Safety. Not only will we recommend testing frequencies for any client, we’ll also carry out these tests — and also the resulting mitigation needs that may be required.

For more on the impact radon has on the pets in your home and why it should be removed, or to learn about any of our radon testing or mitigation services, speak to the team at Absolute Radon Safety today.

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