We would like to pay tribute to our canine and feline friends this November during Cancer Awareness Month for Pets. According to the Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation there are several things you can do to help reduce your pets risk of developing cancer as outlined below.
Preventative Medicine/Wellness Checks:
Just like adults, preventative medicine in pets is equally important. Be sure you schedule regular check-ups for your furry friends. According to the Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation website, there is a misconception about the aging of dogs. They clarified 1 dog year is not equal to 7 human years in terms of age which is what most people believe. Take note of the clarifications below as your pet may be older than you think and require more or less frequent check-ups as a result.
- A pet turning one year old is equal to 15 human years
- A pet turning two years old is equal to 25 human years
- After two years old, the aging backs down to 5 years for every one human year
- Large dogs age faster than small dogs
- A 6-year old dog is considered “middle-aged” for small to medium breeds but “geriatric” for large breeds
A wellness exam is recommended at least annually for both cats and dogs.
Healthy Diet and Exercise:
Similar to humans, pets should eat a well balanced diet and get regular exercise. According to the Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation, exercise has been linked to a reduced cancer rate for pets just as it has been for humans.
Second hand smoke can affect pets just as it does humans and is often responsible for the diagnosis of mouth cancer in pets. Pesticides, herbicides and insecticides are also detrimental to pets. If you must use any of these chemicals, try to avoid areas your pets routinely access. Dogs eat grass to soothe their stomachs, however, grass that has been treated with one of these chemicals can cause a medical emergency.
Spay or Neuter your pets:
It is believed that spaying and neutering your pets can reduce their risk of developing cancer in males and females. Males have no risk of developing testicular cancer once they are neutered and because their testosterone levels are reduced, it causes underdevelopment of the prostate gland. As far as spaying in females, it eliminates the risk for developing uterine or ovarian cancer and reduces the risk for mammary cancer.
Limit Sun Exposure:
According to the Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation you should never use human sunscreen on your pets, however, sun exposure can be detrimental to dogs and pet sunscreen is available via epi-pet.com. Dogs who are exposed to ultraviolet rays can develop skin cancer. Hairless areas like paws, nose, inner ear, belly/groin are more prone to sun damage.
Whenever possible, provide a shaded area for your dog to lay when they go outside. Dogs with light colored hair or thin coats are more susceptible to sun exposure. Be mindful of any skin growths and have them examined by a vet to verify whether or not the lesion should be removed.
Signs and Symptoms that your pet may have cancer:
- Lumps or bumps – especially if they grow in size. Lipomas (benign lumps) are common in pets, however, any growth should be examined by your vet.
- Changes in behavior –
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- difficulty urinating or defecating
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- fluid discharge/bad odors
Cancer in pets can be treated by surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy, however, it is important to get regular check ups so any concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
For additional information about pet cancer, visit the following websites: