Several studies have shown a link between canine cancers, and lawn and agricultural chemicals containing 2,4-D (2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid). They’ve also shown this herbicide – related to the dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange sprayed in Vietnam that poisoned thousands of US soldiers – has been detected in the urine of otherwise healthy dogs. AND YES, THAT INCLUDE DOGS WHOSE CHEMICAL-CONSCIOUS OWNERS DON’T USE 2,4-D and who have no idea where their pets came into contact with it.

Modern science is looking at dogs and many animal “sentinel” species for clues to the environmental hazards that may exist for humans. As researcher, John Reiff of Colorado State University points out, dogs should be considered “the canary in the coal mine” on the dangers of 2,4-D. The presence of the chemical in dog urine, and the connection to canine cancers (especially bladder, testicular, and canine malignant lymphoma), should “provide an early warning system for public health intervention.” (Note: Industry studies dispute many of the findings against 2,4-D. Academic and government researchers, however, say the industry hasn’t studied 2,4-D as it exists in manufactured products, or looked at how pets are encountering it outside a lab.)


But note that herbicides containing 2,4-D are also finding their way into homes, even the ones in which the only creatures lying on carpets or sitting on couches are you and members of your family. It shows up in well water, too. In other words, you don’t need to be a dog – or own one – to be at risk.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Read labels and avoid 2,4-D. Politely ask neighbours, businesses, lawn services, farmers, and governmental entities to do the same. Then, get active with political decision-makers. Sweden banned 2,4-D’s general use nationwide in 1990, after the chemical was implicated in cancer deaths among lumberjacks. Having already seen the connection between Agent Orange and cancer in Vietnam-era soldiers, why shouldn’t other countries consider similar action?