What to Know About Pet Cancer
Most species of animals can develop cancer. Dogs, especially larger and older dogs, are at a greater risk for cancer than our cats. Arming yourself with knowledge about pet cancer can help you make the most informed decisions should you ever come into contact with this disease.
Risk Factors for Pet Cancer
As in humans, there are factors that favor the development of cancer in our pets. These include:
- Environment—Sun exposure, exposure to toxins including lawn chemicals and pesticides, secondhand smoke, and air and water pollution
- Genetics—Breeds of dog most prone to developing cancer: Bernese mountain dogs, boxers, golden retrievers, and rottweilers
- Some viruses
There is a greater incidence of cancer in dogs ten years of age and older. Cats are not as likely to develop cancer, but if they do, it tends to be more aggressive.
Common Cancers Found in Cats
- Feline lymphoma
- Oral squamous carcinoma
- Fibrosarcoma or injection-site sarcoma
- Mammary tumors are found less often due to spaying practices
Common Cancers Found in Dogs
- Mast cell tumors
- Mammary gland carcinomas
How Can I Tell if My Pet Has Cancer?
Our pets do their level best to hide sickness from us. Their ancestral instincts urge them to appear healthy so they will not become victims to predators. Even though our pets trust us, they will still hide early symptoms of distress. You know your pets well. Look out for the following signs of cancer in pets:
- Are there lumps on your pet’s skin?
- When you brush your pet, do you feel swelling, or do they pull back from your touch?
- Are they eating less or have stopped eating?
- Are they less active?
- Are they drinking less water?
- Are they hiding from you?
These are symptoms that should trigger a call to your veterinarian. If you notice concerning behavior changes in your pet, call us at (651) 388‑1103 to schedule an appointment.
Is Cancer in Pets Treatable?
Many cancer treatments that are available to humans are available for our pets. Common treatments include:
- Radiation therapy
Alternative therapies like acupuncture also have great success. Some newer treatments have been developed specifically for house pets.
Once your pet has been diagnosed, your veterinarian will discuss treatment options and expected health outcomes with you.
Consider Your Pet’s Lifestyle When Deciding on Cancer Treatments
Quality of life is our first concern when discussing cancer treatments. Because the treatments can be too much for pets, we think first of their comfort with the goal of bringing them into remission. We offer our pet families a Pet Quality of Life Scale and Daily Diary tool to help assess when is the right time to say goodbye.
The Bluffs Pet Clinic is Your Partner in Pet Health
Early detection of cancers is critical to the best health outcomes. If your pet is due for a regular wellness check, please schedule an appointment using our online appointment portal. We offer both traditional and holistic approaches to pet health care.
Our compassionate staff and veterinarians are available to support your pets on their journey through life. We welcome your questions and concerns, and deeply value our pet families. We look forward to seeing you soon.