Cancer is never a diagnosis any of us want to receive, and the same goes for pet cancer. Unfortunately, 47% of dogs and 32% of cats over the age of 10 will succumb to this disease. Pet cancer is much more common these days, partially because our pets are living longer lives.
While the word itself may make you cringe, it’s vital that owners know about pet cancer, especially when it comes to prevention and early diagnosis.
Diagnosing Pet Cancer
Cancer can be elusive, with symptoms arising only after the disease is well-established in the body.
First and foremost, maintain your pet’s annual or biannual checkup. Wellness exams are the most important step in preventing cancer or securing a better prognosis for those already affected. We use an array of diagnostic testing to determine changes in your pet’s baseline of health. Blood and other tests can provide the first sign when something is wrong.
In addition to maintaining your pet’s appointments, there are other things to look for when it comes to pet cancer:
- Lumps and bumps – Many pet owners are first alerted to the presence of cancer when they notice an unusual lump while grooming or petting. While many bumps turn out to be benign (such as a lipoma), your pet should still be seen immediately for further testing.
- Sores or wounds that won’t heal – Your feisty feline or accident-prone dog may get into a few scrapes every now and then, but if you notice a wound that doesn’t appear to heal or improve, call us right away.
- Foul odor – Putrid odor coming from your pet’s mouth (or other areas) can be a sign of cancer. Halitosis can also be a symptom of dental disease, which requires immediate attention, as well.
- Changes in appetite or weight loss – If your pet inexplicably begins losing weight or if they’re no longer interested in eating, get them checked out right away.
- Changes in disposition – Sudden aggression or other odd changes in your pet’s normal disposition could signal that something is wrong.
These are all indicators that a pet may be ill, and some of these signs may have a simple explanation. However, for peace of mind and to ensure a better outcome, please schedule an appointment the first time you notice something is “off.”
Treatment Options and Recovery
Just because your pet receives a cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean you should lose hope. There are many incredible, life-saving options that include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, along with other alternative modalities. Depending on the type of cancer, we can help determine your pet’s treatment and provide a referral if necessary.
At Paws, Purrs & Exotics Animal Hospital, our hope is to prevent pet cancer through excellent wellness care, diet, and exercise. Your pet’s annual exam is the best place to start and maintain these important aspects of health. Please call us to schedule an appointment.