Cancer Is Not Just A Human Disease

Dr. Larry Mangum


Appalachian Animal Hospital

Cancer is not only a deadly disease among humans. It also claims many pet lives each year.

In fact, cancer affects a quarter of all dogs and a fifth of all cats. It is the No. 1 disease-related cause of death for dogs and cats in the U.S.

There are several different types of cancers that your pet could be at risk for. These include lymphoma, spleen cancer, bone or joint cancer, hepatic cancer, thoracic cancer, bladder cancer, anal sac cancer, oral cancer and brain or spinal cord cancer.

As in humans, there is no fail-proof way to prevent a pet from getting cancer. But there are some steps you can take to lessen the risk. These steps include avoiding environmental risks like cigarette smoke, exposure to carcinogenic chemicals, and excessive sunlight.

Also, some breeder screen for a history cancer to minimize the risk in the breeding process.

Diet maintenance is also a key tool in fighting pet cancer. Overweight pets are more likely to develop certain types of cancer. For instance, overweight female dogs are more likely to develop mammary tumors. In mature canines, an antioxidant program may also prove useful.

A pet’s cancer diagnosis can be a frightening time for a family, but your local veterinarian is here to help.

How do you tell if your pet may be affected by cancer?

Common symptoms include:

• Bad odor

• Blood in urine

• Changes in behavior

• Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating

• Difficulty eating

• Loss of appetite

• Loss of stamina or reluctance to exercise

• Lumps that persist or continue to grow

• Sores that don’t heal

• Unexplained weight loss

While a pet’s cancer diagnosis can be scary, it is not necessarily fatal. Several advances have been made in medical oncology for your pet that include chemotherapy, surgery, immunotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and more.

Don’t give up hope. Work closely with your veterinarian to decide the best course of action for your family pet.