First and foremost, November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. If your pet isn’t acting like himself, call Veterinary Cancer Care right away.
Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of damaged cells. Cells are the basic building blocks of our bodies and normally grow, divide, and die. When a cell is damaged and becomes abnormal, our bodies will recognize the damaged cells and either destroy or control their growth. Sometimes our defenses do not work and the abnormal cells grow uncontrollably resulting in cancer. Luckily, our bodies have many defense strategies to protect us and prevent this from happening. Learn more about cancer by clicking here.
One scary statistic – 50% of dogs over the age of 10 develop cancer at some point during their lives. Some of the most common forms include malignant lymphoma (a tumor of the lymph nodes), mast cell tumors (a form of skin cancer), mammary gland tumors (breast cancer), bone cancer, and soft-tissue sarcoma.
With this being said, it’s important to work closely with a veterinary team and not to self-diagnose something as scary as cancer. There are certain signs to look for, although we do have tests to confirm. Similar to humans, sometimes dogs with cancer present with a general malaise or fatigue. They just don’t seem to feel well and might not be acting like themselves. And, while many symptoms that could mean cancer usually can mean a multitude of other conditions, here are a few specific signs to watch for in your dog:
- Weight loss and/or loss of appetite
- Difficulty exercising or loss of stamina
- Wounds that don’t heal
- Persistent lameness or stiffness
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- Swelling that doesn’t go away or gets worse
- Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating
- Bleeding or discharge from any body opening (often accompanied by an unpleasant odor)
We get asked often, “how do you prevent cancer?” Sometimes, cancer is not avoidable, but we do have some tips to reduce the risk:
- Spay or neuter your dog early. In female dogs, you can dramatically reduce the risk of breast cancer by spaying before the first heat.
- Take good care of your dog’s teeth. Good oral hygiene can reduce your pet’s risk of developing oral cancer.
- A healthy diet and plenty of exercise go a long way. Just like humans, dogs that are active and eat right are prone to fewer diseases than their unhealthy counterparts.
Our board certified oncologist is committed to providing effective, high-quality cancer treatment to all pets with cancer by treating the whole patient, not just the cancer. We are committed to gentle treatment options using a combination of both conventional and alternative therapies, always focusing on giving your pet an excellent quality of life. To best support our patients, Veterinary Cancer Care participates in clinical research and constantly explores alternative ways to treat cancer.