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Radiation danger to pets?

Species: Cat
Breed: DSH
Age: 2-5 years
I am currently undergoing radioactive iodine therapy and my doctor says that I need to stay away from small children for a full week.

Our cat, Norman loves to spend time with me. He sleeps on my lap all day and next to my side in the bed at night.

Is the cat in danger if he spends a lot of time around a person who is having radiation treatment?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm sorry to hear that you are having to go through cancer treatment. I really hope all goes well!

This is a tough question to answer with complete certainty because we really don't know how much of an effect this radiation would have on your cat. The reason why you are advised to stay away from small children for a week is because you will be emitting a small amount of radiation. Radiation can be especially damaging to growing tissues.

But the amount of radiation that you will be emitting is not expected to be harmful to an adult. The same should hold true for an adult cat (or dog for that matter).

Chronic exposure to radiation could increase the chances of developing cancer. However, as humans usually live on average 75-80 years and cats will live on average 13-15 years. The chances of developing a cancer because of radiation exposure is much smaller for an animal than for a human.

The biggest concern for spread of radiation is if the animal comes in contact with secretions (urine, feces, sweat).

Here is what I would advise. If you wanted to be absolutely, 100% safe, then it would be best to keep Norman away from you for the week following your treatment. However, if this were my cat I would likely not be concerned as the risk is low. I would discourage him from licking me, however.

I really hope that things go well for you!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.