Cancer in pets is more common than you think. It is the number one natural cause of death in geriatric cats and dogs and accounts for nearly 50 percent of pet deaths each year. Some breeds are especially susceptible to cancer.
Although the leading cause of death in older cats and dogs, cancer also is the most treatable disease when compared to life-limiting diseases such as congestive heart failure, renal failure and diabetes. An educated and dedicated veterinary health care team is essential to caring for cancer-stricken pets.
“It is crucial for pet owners to take their pets to the veterinarian twice a year to monitor them for early signs of the disease,” says Dr. Gregory Ogilvie, a California Veterinary Medical Association member, world-renowned oncologist and director of the California Veterinary Specialists (CVS) Angel Care Cancer Center in Carlsbad, California. “Routine blood tests also can help identify problems early.”
Commons signs of cancer for pet owners to watch for include:
— Unexplained bleeding or discharge
— Loss of appetite
— Oral odor
— Abnormal swellings or swollen lymph nodes
— Drooling or difficulty eating or swallowing
— Changes in exercise or stamina level
— A sore that does not heal
— Chronic weight loss
— Change in bowel or bladder habits
The best treatment for cancer is prevention. Dr. Ogilvie recommends feeding cats and dogs a high-quality, balanced diet with low amounts of simple carbohydrates and high amounts of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. He also advises pet owners to ensure their pets exercise regularly and eliminate pets’ exposure to industrial chemicals and tobacco smoke. Talk to your veterinarian to determine what’s best for your pet.
If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, there is hope. Advances in veterinary medicine and technology offer multiple treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation and surgical procedures. Above all, enhancing your pet’s health, well-being and quality of life is the ultimate goal.