Nothing is as heartbreaking and as devastating as receiving the news of a loved one or a pet companion diagnosed with cancer. It is a very emotional and taxing ordeal for everyone involved – most especially for the patient and their close family members. We could go years and not once consider the possibility of it affecting us or our loved ones, until we get blindsided one day and the world starts crumbling all around us. No one is ever fully ready when it comes to cancer, and no one will ever be the same when it happens to them or someone they love. But with the right knowledge and information, we can brace ourselves for the worst, and hopefully, come out of it in one piece. November is Pet Cancer Awareness month. Not that we need any more reminders to always stay on top of our pet’s health, but it doesn’t hurt to educate ourselves on what it really is we’re dealing with when it comes to pet cancer.
Pet Cancer Defined
As with humans, pets get cancer when cells or tissues in the body grow abnormal uncontrollably. These tumors, as they are called, may either be benign or malignant – the former grows slow and does not tend to invade other body tissues, while the latter is unpredictable, and can grow and spread rapidly around surrounding body parts. When left untreated, these tumors may and will eventually destroy your pets’ bodily functions, eventually leading to their deaths. According to the numbers, 1 out of 4 dogs will develop a tumor in their lifetime, while dogs over 10 years old have a 50% chance of having cancer. While there is less information about cancer in cats, some cancers, like lymphoma, are more commonly found in cats than in dogs. All in all, cancer is a catch-all term for a complicated disease with many different variations.
Things You Should Know About Pet Cancer
There is a consensus that modern technologies have allowed pets and people to live longer lives, thus, increasing the chances of them developing cancer when they reach old age – a bittersweet notion to say the least. The causes for an animal’s cancer are often unknown or difficult to determine. This also makes it difficult to predict and prevent. There is evidence though that exposure to carcinogens such as second-hand smoke, pesticides, and the like may have a strong correlation to cancer. A dog’s breed is also a strong predictor. Some cancers are simply more inherent to particular breeds than they are in others. Mixed-breed dogs have lesser chances of inheriting cancer from their predecessors, but it does not discount the possibility of spontaneous or environmentally-caused cancers from appearing. Having dogs spayed significantly reduces the risk of mammary cancer whereas having them neutered eliminates testicular cancer risk. On the flip side, having them spayed or neutered can increase the risk of other cancers developing. Consult with your vet before deciding whether to have them spayed or neutered.
Recognize Pet Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Make sure to look out for irregular lumps and bumps on their body, especially swollen lymph nodes. Abnormal bleeding and wounds that don’t heal are also early predictors. Difficulty in breathing, persistent diarrhea, and vomiting should be accounted for. Moments of lethargy and loss of appetite should always be causes for alarm. A pet’s medical history and past physical exams may be used as basis as well. But sometimes, there could be no sign or symptoms especially during the earlier stages. Which is why as soon as you notice any signs of abnormality, it’s best to take your pet to a vet and have them checked out. The sooner you know the cause for your pet’s symptoms, the better it will be for the both of you. Early detection really is the key when it comes to treating cancer, have your pets checked immediately once you notice the symptoms. If cancer is suspected, your vet should prescribe the necessary scans and tests to confirm, then proceed with the necessary treatments.
There are several procedures available for treating your pet’s cancer from surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, cryosurgery, hypothermia, or immunotherapy. Treatment would matter entirely on the individual case whether it would require one or a combination of several. Consult with a veterinary oncologist, one who specializes on pet cancers. Dietary changes would also help your pet’s overall health, keeping them strong through their therapy sessions is very important when they are recovering. In some more dire cases where the cancer has grown to incurable stages, a veterinarian may suggest options in how to keep your pet comfortable through their last days.
Cancer is never easy to deal with, whether it happens to us or someone close to us. Just know that you are not alone in this fight. Having a good support system helps a lot. We at Pet Nanny are ready and waiting to help you for any pet-related concerns. Follow us on our social media accounts or give us a call at 734-981-6108. Alternatively, you can use our on-line contact form and we’ll get in touch with you!