November marks National Pet Cancer Awareness month and is designated as such to help pet owners learn more about the signs and symptoms of cancer, and what kind of action they should take. No one wants to think of the possibility that their pets can have cancer, but it's something that's a reality for cats and dogs alike. Making pet owners aware of the signs for cancer in their pets helps put the odds of survival in their pets favor when detected early. Here's a look at how cancer affects cats and dogs, and how pet owners can help.
The Odds of Pets Having Cancer is Rising
Over the years, the number of pets with cancer has been increasing. Something that was once unusual is now seen more frequently. It's estimated that one in four dogs and one in five cats is likely to develop cancer. In fact, the risk of cancer in dogs is the same as it is with humans. And cancer is the cause of death for around 50 percent of pets over the age of 10. These statistics show that it's more important than ever for pet owners to learn about the signs of cancer.
Warning Signs of Cancer
Cancer signs can sometimes look like other health issues, but unlike other health issues they won't resolve on their own. It's better to be safe than sorry and bring your pet into the vet's office when you notice warning signs that include:
- Rapid weight loss
- Loss of appetite or difficulty eating or swallowing food
- Sever lethargy
- Lack of interest in play or interaction
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Respiratory changes IE breathing becomes stressed or rapid
- Unusual odors that are strong or foul
- Wounds that don't heal
- Unusual bumps and lumps on the body or jaw
Most Common Types of Cancers in Dogs and Cats
Cats and dogs are most likely to develop certain types of cancers. It's worth noting that they only share one type of cancer in common as the rest are the result of an existing disease or more likely to occur because of their species.
- Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
- Mammary Cancer
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma or Skin Cancer
- Mast Cell Tumors or Skin Cancer
- Osteosarcoma or Bone Cancer
Treatment for Pet Cancer
The advances made in cancer treatment for pets has greatly increased survival rates. The odds that your pet will be able to live a life free from cancer are much better than they were a decade ago. Surgery is still the most common treatment for cancer, but chemotherapy and radiation are also used. Drugs are coming on the market to help treat cancer and a recent study using a vaccine made from a dog's own tumor is showing promise as a treatment for certain cancers.
If you suspect your pet is showing signs of cancer, contact the vet for an appointment as soon as possible. Early detection is key to effective treatment and helping your pet beat cancer.