Tips for Preventing Cancer in Pets—Signs to Look For

When you love your pet, the worst thing is when they are in pain. You live vicariously through them quite often, and when they are in pain so are you. You can do everything you can to keep your pet happy and healthy, but there are always things you can’t control. Cancer is certainly one of them.

While cancer is a disease that is difficult to treat, manage, and prevent, we now know enough to do our best to see the signs and symptoms while avoiding the obvious causes of cancer. Below are some tips for preventing cancer in pets and the signs to look for when your animal might have cancer.

Cancer in Pets

When it comes to cancer in pets, it’s good to begin with a basic understanding of cancer and how it can affect different animals. Since we are mainly talking about cats and dogs, this will focus on those two types of pets. However, there are cancers that can occur in all kinds of different animals. The types of cancer that are common in cats and dogs are as follows.

Lymphoma is a common cancer in dogs, cats, and humans. With one in four and five dogs and cats, respectively, getting cancer in their lifetime, lymphoma makes up a large portion. 20 percent of all dog cancer cases and 30 percent of all tumors in cats are lymphoma. Furthermore, there are four different types of lymphoma, all with varying degrees of possible mortality. Even specific breeds are more likely to get lymphoma than others.

Beyond lymphoma, there are three other common cancers in cats and dogs. Osteosarcoma, otherwise known as brain cancer, has all kinds of symptoms. It spreads rapidly and can be quite severe. Mast Cell Tumors are another type of cancer in the white blood cells. Luckily, 90 percent of them are benign. Finally, mammary cancer—breast cancer—is the opposite. 90 percent of these tumors are malignant in cats and specific dog breeds are more likely to get it.

Symptoms of Cancers

When it comes to lymphoma, the typical symptoms are lumps, swollen lymph nodes, and respiratory issues. However, alimentary lymphoma can include vomiting, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, and diarrhea. Difficulty breathing and fluid in the chest are other symptoms of lymphoma. Luckily, if you see these symptoms and get the animal in for treatment, 70-85 percent of cats and dogs will go into remission.

Bone cancer has a variety of symptoms such as swollen mass of the skull, jaw, or ribs. It can lead to seizures, a weak gait, breathing issues, a lack of appetite, and fatigue. Mast Cell Tumors cause bumps and nodules on the head, neck, or ears. They also cause itching at the nodules, vomiting, fatigue, weight loss, and black stool. Breast cancer can be difficult to detect, with the main sign being a lump on the chest.

How to Prevent Cancer

One of the most important ways to prevent cancer in dogs is to know what breed they are. Certain breeds are more susceptible to specific cancers. When you know which form of cancer they are susceptible to, it’s easier to prevent it. You should also do basic things like avoid smoking in the house. You should also be careful about sun exposure. Another thing is to remember to keep them away from lawn chemicals and pesticides. Watching their diet, making sure they exercise, and going to the vet regularly are all preventative measures too.

When you see a lump on your pet or they’re showing signs of fatigue, trouble breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, or other suspicious symptoms you should take the pet to the vet right away.  Cancer can be difficult to detect, but if you pay attention and catch it early it could be the difference between life and death.

Animals get cancer like humans do. If you are aware of this and what your specific breed is susceptible to, you will be able to focus on preventing cancer and treating it should it arise. You love your animals. Putting in the effort to prevent cancer and provide the proper attention when they get a lump or are showing symptoms is just something you need to do. With diligence, you can save their life!


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