May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month and Dr. Gerald Post a veterinary oncologist wants the public to know is cancer in animals is no longer a death sentence. That is why it is important to know what to look for and get treatment early.
Pet cancer is the #1 disease-related killer of our pets. Dr. Gerald Post said “about one in four dogs will get cancer in its lifetime and about one in five cats will get cancer”. Dr. Post also said “which equates to approximately 4 to 8 million new cases of cancer in dogs each year.
Just as in humans if cancer in pets can be detected early the treatment is more affected. The Veterinary Cancer Society has 10 Early Warning Signs:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- An enlarging or changing lump
- Abdominal distension
- Chronic Weight Loss
- Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
- Unexplained bleeding
- Straining to urinate
- Oral odor
If your pet has any of the above signs your veterinarian should see him/her as soon as possible.
Per VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.) the top 10 Pet Cancer Claims in 2008 were
- Mast Cell Tumor
- Neoplasia – Spleen
- Neoplasia – Eyelid
- Osteogenic Sarcoma
- Neoplasia – Liver
- Neoplasia – Thorax
- Neoplasia – Brain or Spinal Cord
In their effort to help pet owners check for cancer, Wendy Weinand, a master pet stylist and master groomer for Petco in San Antonio, Texas says there is a 7 point checklist they use to evaluate each pet when they come into their shop. This is something that pet owners can do on a monthly basis and keep records each time to be aware of any changes.
- Eyes: Are the whites of the eyes white; are they sagging; do they look healthy; is there goop in them?
- Teeth: Are the gums nice and pink? Do they have plaque or tartar?
- Ears: Do they look normal for the breed; are they red or swollen; do they contain a funky odor; are they compacted with hair; is the ear housing anything that shouldn’t be there?
- Nose: Is the nose dry, cracked or brittle looking?
- Skin/coat: Does the fur look shiny and healthy, or is it dull; is the skin healthy or oily? Based on the animal’s age, are there cuts or abrasions; have they been scratching or itching; are there any abnormal lumps or are they aging spots?
- Underside: Does the belly look and feel good? Are there any lumps, bumps?
- Paws: Are the nails cracked, dry or brittle? Are the pads, moist, red or swollen?
Obesity is a big risk factor for cancer so you want your pet to eat a healthy diet and have regular exercise. And, yes cats need exercise and there are many ways to enrich your cats life so they get the adequate exercise needed to stay healthy.