Pets Can Get Cancer

Cancer of the Liver

Cancer in the Liver

Pets are living longer now and like their humans, our pets are also getting diseases that are also common in our elderly. Cancer can also affect our pets. Some cancers, such as some forms of leukemia in cats, are caused by a virus, the Feline Leukemia virus. Some cancers may have a genetic or inheritable factor. Boxers tend to have a higher rate of cancer than other breeds of dogs and Golden Retrievers have a higher rate of lymphosarcomas. Some cancers may be due to our environment, insecticides or toxins.Caring for the Older Dog
As a pet owner, you may do the very best with your pet by providing the best food, nutritional supplements, preventative care such as heartworm prevention, vaccinations and wellness care, but still, your beloved pet can develop cancer. No one or no pet is immune to the probability, but diligent care and wellness exams can detect some cancers early when they are still treatable. One of the best preventatives is spaying and neutering your pet. In the female, each heat cycle releases the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which then activates the mammary glands. This in turn increases the risk of developing mammary cancer or breast cancer with each heat cycle. The current recommendation is to spay your pet before their first heat cycle or before 6 months of age which will reduce the risk of developing breast cancer to less than .05%. In the male, neutering reduces the hormones and can eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and reduce the risk of prostate and perianal cancers that can develop from the release of testosterone.

Semi-annual physical exams are recommended for pets over 7 years old. Small changes that may be overlooked by you can sometimes be found by your veterinarian. Small lumps and bumps that you may discover on your pet should be brought to your veterinarian’s attention. A simple needle aspirate of the lump can sometimes tell if it is a benign (harmless) tumor, or something more that warrants further investigation. Tumors in your pet’s mouth can also occur and your vet will often examine the mouth during the exam.

wellness_dog_geriatric-3Annual blood exams can give a baseline and any change in the blood work from year to year can help identify problems earlier. In some cases, I have had blood work in normal limits and have only found the cancer with radiographs (x-rays) or ultra-sound. Purchasing pet insurance will help defray the costs of diagnostics as your pet ages and can also cover surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy if your pet should develop cancer.

Cance Metastasis to the Lungs

Cancer Metastasis to the Lungs

Because pet insurance will not cover pre-existing problems, it is best to buy the insurance before your pet develops a problem. Some cancers when caught early are curable and many others can be put in remission and extend the life of your pet. Unlike human chemotherapy, pet chemotherapy is aimed at extending their life and making them comfortable, so many of the unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and hair loss are avoided.
Supplements containing anti-oxidants may help reduce cancer risks by freeing the body of the free-radicals that occur. Sam-e is another supplement that aids the liver and glucosamine and chondroitin help with joint health. No firm data has established if these supplements truly reduce developing cancer but they do not harm your pet either. Golden Years vitamins are designed for older pets and make an excellent supplement.
Develop a wellness plan with your veterinarian as your pet ages. Some pets can live as long as twenty years of age with a little help from you and your veterinarian.

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