Being a pet owner is a rewarding experience with a lot of responsibilities. One of the things you have to be vigilant about is cancer. It is the number one cause of death in dogs and the second leading cause of death in cats over ten years of age.
That is why it’s important to know the signs and what to do if you think your pet may have cancer. Here’s a brief overview of this disease, its signs and symptoms, and what you can do to help your animal companion while they’re on treatment.
What Is Cancer in Pets?
Cancer refers to a collection of related diseases. In all forms of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.
Cancer can affect almost any cell type in the body and have many different forms in animals. You should note that not all lumps or bumps are cancerous. But it is always best to have them checked out by specialists, such as the vets on OceansideVH.com.
Just like in humans, cancer can present itself in a variety of ways in our animal companions. As a pet owner, it’s vital to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease to catch it early and provide your pet with the best possible chance for treatment and recovery.
There are various cancer types for pets, but the most common ones include:
- Mast cell tumors
- Bone cancer
- Soft tissue sarcomas
- Oral tumors
- Gastrointestinal tumors
- Liver cancer
- Skin cancer
Diagnosing Cancer in Pets
Once your vets have determined that your pet is displaying signs of cancer, they will likely recommend some or all of the tests below to make a diagnosis:
- Complete blood count (CBC): This test measures the levels of different blood cells in your pet’s blood sample.
- Chemistry panel: This test measures different chemicals in the blood and can provide information about how well certain organs are functioning.
- Urinalysis: It analyzes a sample of your pet’s urine for signs of infection, kidney disease, or other disorders.
- Imaging tests: X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs can all be used to create images of the inside of your pet’s body and look for signs of cancer.
- Biopsy: In this procedure, a tissue sample is taken from the suspected tumor and examined under a microscope. This is generally considered the best way to confirm a cancer diagnosis.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Cancer in Pets?
These will depend on what type of cancer they have and where it is located in their bodies. Below are some general signs and symptoms that may indicate your pet has cancer:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive drinking and urination
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Sores that don’t heal
- Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
- lameness or stiffness in the joints
If you see any of these signs in your pet, it is essential to make an appointment with their veterinarian right away for a checkup.
Treatment Options for Cancer in Pets
Treatment for cancer in pets will depend on the type and stage of cancer and your pet’s overall health. Some common treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Your veterinarian will work with you to create a treatment plan that is best for your pet and gives them the best possible chance for recovery.
Surgery is often the first line of treatment for cancer in pets, aiming to eliminate the cancerous tumor and surrounding tissue. This can be done through a traditional surgical incision or, in some cases, laparoscopically (using small incisions and special instruments).
2. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy waves to kill cancer cells. It may be used alone or combined with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Your vet will give it intravenously (through an IV) or orally (in a pill form). This treatment option can be used alone or combined with other treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy.
What Is the Recovery Process for Pets with Cancer?
Some pets may experience complete remission of cancer, while others may only have partial remission. In some cases, the cancer may not be able to be completely cured, but treatment can help to control it and extend your pet’s life.
Here are some tips to help your pet through their cancer treatment:
- Keep them comfortable: Be sure to provide your pet with a soft, comfortable place to rest. This may be a bed, blanket, or even just a spot on the couch.
- Give them plenty of love and attention: Cancer can be a stressful time for both you and your pet. Give them plenty of love and attention during this time.
- Make sure they are getting enough exercise: It is essential for pets with cancer to get enough exercise. This will help them stay strong and improve their overall mood.
- Feed them a healthy diet: A healthy diet is important for all pets, especially those with cancer. Ensure to feed them a nutritious diet that includes plenty of protein and antioxidants.
Choosing the Right Animal Hospital
When it comes to cancer treatment for your pet, you want to be sure you are working with a reputable, qualified animal hospital. Ask your veterinarian and the people around you for recommendations or do some research online to find an animal hospital that has experience treating pets with cancer.
This is an easy way to narrow your search within your area. You don’t want to hire a vet that’s two hours from you, especially in case of emergencies. For instance, type “veterinary internist near me.”
How to Help Prevent Cancer in Pets
Unfortunately, there are no sure ways to prevent cancer in pets. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your pet’s risk. Consider the following steps:
- Ensure their vaccinations are up to date. Certain viruses have been linked to cancer in pets.
- Try to avoid exposing them to chemicals and toxins. This includes things like cigarette smoke, pesticides, and household cleaners.
- Feed them a nutritious diet and keep them at a healthy weight. Obesity has been linked to cancer in pets.
Have them checked regularly by your vet. If you’re seeking experienced vets in Oceanside CA, see Oceanside Veterinary Hospital.