Cancer in Pets

While most of us are keenly aware of the effects of cancer on human health, many do not realize that it affects our pets as well.

Here’s why you need to know.
Cancer is the #1 disease-related cause of death in dogs and cats.

1 in 4 Dogs and 1 in 5 Cats will develop cancer in their lifetime, with Dogs contracting cancer at the same rate as humans.  And while cancer is not as common in cats as in dogs, the cancers found in cats tend to be more aggressive.

When a pet is diagnosed with cancer, owners often wonder how the disease was manifested.  In nearly all cases cancer is typically caused by a combination of genetics and environment, with certain types of cancers prone to affect particular breeds of dogs and cats.
Even the time at which a female dog is spayed can have a bearing on contraction of cancer.

Dogs spayed before experiencing their first heat have a much lower chance of developing mammary cancer than those that are spayed after having experienced one heat cycle, with the odds increasing after each subsequent cycle.

Is there any better reason to spay your female puppy?

Top Cancers in pets are:

  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Mast Cell Tumor
  • Splenic Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Bone Cancer

Pet Cancer Can Be Treated!

As with humans, cancer in pets can be successfully managed and potentially cured if caught early enough.  Treatments for pet cancer include surgery, chemotherapy and even radiation.  Symptoms can be managed through pain control, antibiotics, anti-nausea medications and nutrition regimen.

While most of the knowledge and treatments in pet oncology come from the fields of human oncology, research focusing on cancer in pets is rapidly progressing.

Because there are so many different types of cancer, no one sign is unique to its diagnosis.

Be on the lookout for the following symptoms that, while not purely indicative of cancer, present good reason to visit the vet.

Signs of Cancer in Pets

  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Abnormal Lumps that emerge or Existing Lumps that change in size, shape or consistency
  • Abdominal Distension
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Loss of Appetite or Weight Loss
  • Chronic Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Unexplained Bleeding or Discharge
  • Persistent Cough or Difficulty Breathing
  • Abnormal Odor
  • Difficulty Eating or Swallowing
  • Lethargy or Loss of Stamina
  • Persistent Lameness
  • Difficulty Breathing, Urinating or Defecating

As with any disease, the sooner cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated, the better the potential prognosis.  This makes annual visits to the vet all the more important in maintaining pet health.

Bear in mind that pets are prone to mask signs of illness until disease has progressed, so learn to recognize signs of sickness.

Your pet’s best ally is an observant pet parent.
Just like with people, early detection can be a life saver!

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