November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

The company Veterinary Pet Insurance started Pet Cancer Awareness Month in 2005 after noting that the diagnosis often took owners by surprise. Ten years later, cancer remains the leading cause of death in dogs and cats across the country. According to the Veterinary Cancer Center, half of all pets who die from a disease each year have some form of cancer. The diagnosis is more common in dogs, yet more aggressive in cats. As with humans, the prognosis improves dramatically the earlier the diagnosis.

Most Common Types of Cancer in Pets

Veterinarians diagnosis the following types of cancer most often in companion animals:

  • Abdominal: This may include cancers of the spleen, kidneys, intestines, and liver. Tumors can be hard to diagnose initially because the pet’s swollen abdomen conceals them well.
  • Bladder: This type tends to occur more often in pets exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Bone (Osteosarcoma): Most common in large dogs, bone cancer typically appears in the leg bone or ribs.
  • Breast: This is the most common type of cancer in female dogs. When present in cats, it becomes malignant in 85 percent of cases.
  • Canine Lymphoma: This cancer develops in the intestinal tract, bone marrow, and white blood cells of dogs.
  • Feline Leukemia: Kittens are at highest risk of this disease and often inherit it from their mothers at birth. Since it is highly contagious, veterinarians recommend vaccines for outdoor cats or homes with two or more cats.
  • Oral: Dogs with mouth cancer may have difficulty eating or bleed from the nose. It’s not a common diagnosis in cats.
  • Prostate and Testicular: Both of these are aggressive cancers in male pets. The first noticeable symptom is often difficulty with defecating since the tumor pressing on the lower colon makes it difficult to pass stool. Testicular cancer is more common in pets who live around environmental toxins and who have untreated parasite infestations.
  • Skin: This type receives treatment most often because it’s easiest to see. It’s most common in pets who spend long hours in the sunlight.

Symptoms of Cancer

Since pets can’t speak and tell you when something is wrong, it’s important to know the symptoms of cancer and check your dog or cat for them on a regular basis. The most common ones include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty eliminating
  • Offensive odor
  • Stiff walk
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Bleeding from any opening in the body
  • Weight loss
  • Sores that heal slowly or not at all
  • Abnormal swellings that grow larger over time
  • Unusual fatigue

Having one or even several of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet has cancer. However, it’s important to schedule an appointment with Grantsburg Animal Hospital as soon as you notice them. No matter what we determine to be the cause of your pet’s symptoms, it’s crucial to begin a treatment protocol as soon as possible.

Tags: cancer

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