Did you know that cancer is one of the leading causes of death among pets? It is important to spread awareness about pet cancer so that pet owners can detect it early and take measures to prevent it. As November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, we bring you some startling statistics about pet cancer, signs and symptoms to look out for, and when to visit a vet with concerns. We also compiled a list of fresh whole foods that have been proven to help prevent and fight cancer that can be put in with your pet’s daily diet. Stick with us till the end and thanks to Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib’s book “The Forever Dog,” we hope that you will be more aware and prepared to take care of your furry friends.
Just like humans, dogs live in the same environment and are exposed to the same carcinogens as their owners. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that one in four dogs is diagnosed with cancer, making it the leading cause of death in older pets (Veterinary Cancer Society). According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), nearly 6 million dogs and cats are diagnosed with cancer each year. Shockingly, cancer is also a leading cause of death among pets, particularly dogs over ten years old. Pet cancer can be a devastating reality, but early detection and treatment can make a significant difference in a pet’s quality of life. Pet owners who are informed about cancer symptoms and prevention tactics can help their furry friends live longer, healthier lives.
Most Common Types of Cancer
Lymphoma, a prevalent canine cancer, encompasses a group of cancers originating from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell crucial for immune system defense against infections. Veterinarians use the term lymphoma to describe over 30 different types of this cancer in dogs. The most common variants include multicentric, alimentary, mediastinal, and extranidal lymphoma.
Mast Cell Tumor
Mast cell tumors in dogs primarily occur in or just beneath the skin, although they can occasionally manifest in other areas such as the eyes, mouth, throat, and spine. Removing these tumors can pose challenges for veterinarians, depending on their location. However, early detection and complete removal of the tumor can lead to successful treatment and cure for this type of cancer in dogs.
Similar to mast cell tumors, melanoma tumors can also be found on a dog’s skin. While most melanoma tumors are benign and easily treatable, malignant melanomas pose a serious threat. Unfortunately, malignant melanoma has a tendency to spread rapidly to other parts of the dog’s body. Typically, these tumors exhibit dark pigmentation, although they can also be lacking in pigment. Melanoma in dogs is commonly detected in and around the mouth or on the feet.
Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)
Osteosarcoma, a highly painful form of bone cancer, primarily affects dogs with larger or longer bones, such as leg bones or the pelvis. While this type of cancer can occur in any breed, our veterinarians commonly diagnose osteosarcoma in larger breeds such as Dobermans, boxers, golden retrievers, German shepherds, Irish wolfhounds, rottweilers, and Weimaraners.
Hemangiosarcoma, a type of cancer, necessitates immediate intervention as it can have dire consequences if left untreated. These tumors can grow significantly in dogs and are commonly found in the spleen, although they can occur wherever blood vessels exist and have the potential to spread to other organs, such as the heart and lungs. It is crucial to address this serious condition promptly to ensure the best possible outcome.
Fibrosarcoma in dogs is a slow-spreading cancer that poses challenges in treatment. To prevent recurrence, common approaches involve the use of amputation and radiation therapy. These methods are employed to effectively address fibrosarcoma in dogs.
Breeds Genetically Predisposed to Cancer
Certain dog breeds have a higher predisposition to developing cancer. Below, we have curated a concise list of these breeds at greater risk. If you wish to delve deeper into cancer statistics specific to certain breeds, here is a page of compiled findings from multiple global studies.
- Golden Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Great Dane
The Warning Signs and Prevention
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of pet cancer. Signs of pet cancer include changes in appetite, persistent vomiting or diarrhea, unusual bumps or growths, persistent lameness or stiffness, unexplained weight loss, difficulty breathing, or difficulty eating or swallowing. If you notice any of these or other abnormal behaviors, it’s time to visit the veterinarian.
In addition to visiting the vet, there are some preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of pet cancer. One powerful strategy is to include some cancer-fighting foods in your pet’s diet. Think of whole foods that would support your pet’s immune system. Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib’s book “The Forever Dog” provides some helpful suggestions. These include incorporating nutrient-dense whole foods such as leafy greens, beans, sweet potatoes, turmeric, and berries into your pet’s diet.
Another preventative measure is to give your dog a regular workout routine. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of cancer in a pet’s bladder, prostate gland, and breast tissue. Regular exercise can also boost immunity, foster weight control, and reduce the potential for cancer-causing toxins to build up in the body.
It is also critical to know when to visit the veterinarian. Detecting cancer in pets can be challenging as pet owners may not be able to identify the symptoms. Regular check-ups can help identify signs of cancer even before they worsen. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that pet owners should take their pets to the vet for check-ups at least once a year, depending on their pet’s health.
Pet cancer is a serious issue that affects thousands of pets each year. As pet owners, it is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of pet cancer to better protect our furry friends. Dietary changes and preventing excessive weight, along with regular exercise, are effective methods of reducing the risk of pet cancer. Taking care of your pet’s health should be a priority, leading to peace of mind and a longer, happier life for your furry friend. Finally, we hope that this informative article about pet cancer helps raise awareness and assures pet owners that they can take action to prevent and fight pet cancer, providing a better quality of life for our furry friends.