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Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cancer and Our Pets

Hey all, Dr. Mandi here again. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Ive decided to dedicate this blog to some general information about cancer as it applies to our pets. I routinely diagnose cancer in dogs in cats to varying degrees. From simple skin tumors that are easy to remove and require no follow up care or treatment, to larger internal or bone masses that require major surgery and sometimes chemotherapy and radiation to treat.

Pets are diagnosed with many of the same cancers as humans, such as, bone cancer (osteosarcoma), breast or mammary gland cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer (melanoma) and do suffer from the spread of cancer (metastisis). Some of these cancers are preventable in our pets. Breast cancer can be prevented, to a large degree, in female dogs and cats by spaying them at a young age (5-6 months). Melanomas and other skin masses that can spread internally (like Mast cell tumors) can be removed providing a very good prognosis if they are found early. Routine examination of pets at home and by your veterinarian can provide early diagnosis and intervention.

Although a diagnosis of cancer can be frightnening for many pet owners, with many of today's medical treatments and nutrition, there is hope. You veterinarian can give you information about your pet's specific disease and give you options for the best course of treatment.

Here is some general information about the disease:

What is cancer? - Cancer is a condition associated with the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells within the body. These cells can form masses or tumors that can create a variety of potetially painful and serious problems. Cancer can be found in any organ. Some types are less aggressive than others and can be cured just by removal of the tumor.

Is my pet at risk?- Many factors can influence the likelihood fo a dog developing cancer.

Age - Nearly half of all dogs 10 years or older will develop cancer.
Breed - Certain tumors are more common in specific breeds. For example skin tumors in Boxers and other Bully breeds, spleen tumors in German Shepherds and Retriever breeds, and bone cancer in giant breeds like Mastiffs.
Gender - Some cancers develop under the influence of sex hormones. Spaying or neutering your pet can decrease the chances of some types of cancers (like breast cancer).
Environment - Exposure to chemicals, such as some pesticides, herbicides and radiation can increase the possibility of cancer in animals just like they do in humans. Exposure to the sun can also increase the possiblity of some cancers in your pet.

What are the signs of cancer in my pet? - Due to the complex nature of cancer, many different signs may indicate the presence of the disease. The following are some of the most common signs.

-Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
-Sores that do not heal
-Weight loss
-Changes in appetite
-Bleeding or discharge from any body orifice
-Offensive odor
-Difficulty eating, swallowing or breathing
-Lethargy or loss of stamina
-Persistent lameness or stiffness
-Difficulty urinating or defecating

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it is important to consult your veterinarian. Althought these symptoms may indicate cancer, they can also indicate other diseases that your veterinarian can diagnose and treat. Also, these may not be the only signs of cancer that your pet could exhibit, so anything that is not normal for your pet should be discussed with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Just as with humans, early diagnosis and treatment offers the most successful outcome for our pets. Since they cannot tell us what is bothering them we need to be aware of subtle changes in their health and daily habits. We need to be their voice so that we can find the disease as soon as we can and begin treatment.

Well that's all for now. Remember - "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". This month show how much you care by thinking PINK!

1 comment:

Christian said...

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