While we often think of cancer as a very human disease, this fatal affliction also affects pets. In fact, cancer continues to be the leading cause of death for pets across the U.S. Since November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to share with you all the facts we wish every pet parent knew about this often fatal disease.

How Many Pets Are Affected By Cancer?

We would love to reduce the number of pets that lose their lives to cancer. Unfortunately, many pet parents continue to think that the ‘big-C’ can’t happen to their pet. When it comes to which pets get cancer and which do not, knowing your pet’s likelihood can help you become more vigilant in noticing the signs.

  • 1 out of 4 dogs will develop tumors
  • 1 out of 2 dogs over ten will develop cancer
  • 1 out of 5 cats will develop cancer
  • Cats are more prone to lymphoma than dogs 
  • Cats are often better at hiding the signs that they are ill, often going longer without detection.

Can Your Pet Avoid Becoming a Victim of Cancer?

There is no way to predict which pets will get cancer. There are things you can do, though, to reduce the deadliness of the disease should your pet develop a tumor or tumors.

The two most effective ways you can prevent cancer from stealing your pet’s life are to

  1. Maintain annual exams (bi-annual for senior pets) 
  2. Recognize the warning signs of cancer before it grows or spreads

Early diagnosis during your pet’s annual exam can be the difference between treatment and death. Knowing when to bring in your pet outside of that annual exam is equally important.

Enough doom and gloom--you can make a difference for your pet by recognizing these signs:

  • Lack of appetite or decrease in appetite
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • A sudden drop in weight
  • Intense thirst and an increase in drinking
  • Frequent urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to partake in physical activities
  • Trouble moving about and stiffness
  • Evidence of blood from the mouth or bottom
  • Difficulty doing their business
  • Labored breathing
  • Masses near the mouth or jawline
  • Swelling or firmness
  • New lumps and bumps that grow rapidly or seem painful

Can Pet Cancer Be Treated?

Most types of cancer can be successfully treated when diagnosed early. Malignant tumors may require surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. When it comes to treating cancer, our approach depends on your pet’s health history as well as the type of cancer, its location, and the severity.

Sometimes we hear pet parents say that they feel silly bringing their pet in because of bumps and lumps or unusual symptoms. Do not feel this way. If you are worried about a change in your pet’s physical health or behavior, do not hesitate to make an appointment. It is always appropriate to ask questions about your pet’s health. We are here to provide you with peace of mind, answer your questions, and provide the best care should the need arise.

What If My Pet’s Cancer Cannot be Treated?

As veterinary professionals, we can say that you never truly get over how heartbreaking cancer can be, especially when it’s untreatable. When cancer is unresponsive to treatment or is too far progressed, we can provide you and your pet with the solace of effective pain management.  We can also guide you to assist your pet so she can live out her remaining time in comfort.

Know the Signs, Save Your Pet

In honor of National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, we urge you to take notice of your pet’s health. If your pet has exhibited a recent change in weight or appetite, we recommend making an appointment. Together we can lower the number of pets cancer takes each year.

Is your pet in need of her annual exam? Make an appointment today.

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