It seems that cancer is becoming more and more common every day. It used to be that you would hear of someone that knows someone that is related to someone that has cancer. Now days, I find it is much more common to actually know the person that has cancer. The same goes for our pets as they are not any more immune to cancer cells than people.
The more cancer we see, the more we learn about the signs to watch for, treatment options available, and how to keep our pets comfortable should they succumb to cancer. Prevention is the best option for us and our pets. Catching something (anything) early means there is a better chance for treatment and having a positive outcome. This is why regular physical exams with your veterinarian are so important. Our pets can’t talk to tell us there might be something wrong, and often, it takes someone that isn’t around our pets on a daily basis to recognize things that you otherwise might consider normal for your pet.
The following are things to watch for that could be indicators of cancer or something else unhealthy going on with your pet:
- Lumps and Bumps
- Non-healing wounds
- Weight loss
- Lethargy, depression, poor appetite
- Abnormal odor from mouth, ears or other parts of the body
- Vomiting or diarrhea lasting for more than a day or two
- Straining to urinate or defecate
- Breathing difficulty
- Abnormal bleeding – coming from the nose, urine, feces, bruising, etc.
What things can you do for your pet that will reduce the risk of them developing cancer?
- Feed a high quality diet that does not contain artificial preservatives and dyes and is made by a reputable company.
- Weight management and exercise. Obesity has become as big of a problem in our pets as it is in people which definitely decreases quality of life, longevity and can be a chronic source of inflammation to the body which is thought to contribute to cancer development.
- Spay and neuter your pet. Spaying a dog or cat before they have their first heat cycle can dramatically reduce the incidence of mammary cancer in your pet. Testicular and prostatic cancers are also something that male dogs can be affected by if left intact.
- Consider the environment. Eliminate exposure to known potential carcinogens by avoiding second-hand smoke, pesticides, herbicides, radiation, etc.
- Omega-3 Fatty acids have anti-oxidant effects which decrease inflammation and trauma to the cells of the body.
A diagnosis of cancer in your pet is not necessarily a death sentence. If caught early, you can work with your veterinarian to formulate a plan to either cure the cancer or at least provide the best quality of life possible for as long as possible. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are all options to your pet and they often tolerate these things much better than people do. There are several institutional options available in the area for referral to veterinary oncologists and specialists to give your pet the best opportunity to survive and thrive. Education is vital, so talk with your veterinarian regarding any concerns you are seeing in your pet in order to make the best decision for your family.
Source: Dr. Jana Layton; Karen Marcile, Riverbrook Animal Hospital, Tulsa Oklahoma
Love, The PetsWell Team
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