Cancer is a strenuous illness which affects millions of humans every year. But, did you know animals can develop cancer, too? Since May is the official Pet cancer awareness month, we’ve decided to check out the facts and tell you how to prevent or treat this disease in case your faithful non-animal friend has it.

Here’s what you should know about your pet’s health:

 

Pet Cancer – Facts and Symptoms

Cancer is the main cause of pet’s deaths. Older dogs and cats are especially prone to develop cancer, yet most of the times it can be prevented or treated in time to avoid a tragic conclusion. Since cancer has a genetic component, purebred animals are also particularly predisposed to develop this disease if there are signs of it previously existing in their family, or if they live for too long.

Some of the symptoms you should definitely keep an eye on are:

  • Lumps on your pet’s skin
  • Pain when performing normal activities or when touched
  • Extreme and sudden weight loss, or a lack of appetite
  • Difficulty for breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Bad odors coming from your pet’s mouth or body
  • Evacuating with blood or pus; constant vomiting or diarrhea; or sudden changes in your pet’s bathroom habits
  • Wounds which don’t heal or bleed regularly

Although many of the symptoms can also relate to other less complicated illnesses, a trip to the veterinarian is always in order if you observe any of them.

 

How can I prevent pet cancer?

Just like with humans, cancer prevention depends mostly on good health habits. If you want to reduce your pet’s chances of getting cancer, then here are a few things you should definitely do:

  • Give your pet a healthy nutrition:

    According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, malnutrition can increase your pet’s risk of developing the disease, so give your animal companion a healthy diet by consulting it and planning it with the veterinarian.
  • Give your pet a healthy environment:

    Cancer derives from changes in your pet’s DNA which can be produced by exposing it to carcinogens. Avoid subjecting your animal companion to tobacco smoke, pesticide and dangerous substances.
  • Sterilize your pet:

    By spaying or neutering your animals early, you can reduce the risk of developing common forms of cancer, such as mammary, prostate or uterine cancer, which develop due to the action of their hormones.
  • Keep your pet clean:

    By giving your pet a good oral care and keeping his skin, ears and orifices clean, you can diminish the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Take your companion to the vet regularly to keep his teeth and fur absolutely spotless.

   

What should I do if my pet has cancer?

First, take into consideration that cancer can be quite a difficult illness, but many types of cancer can be cured by removing them surgically. If your pet has cancer, consult several opinions from different veterinarians, and ask them about the best options for your pet: surgery, transplants, radiation therapy, etc.; are amongst the most common choices.

Most importantly, give your pet love and care. Just like humans, they’ll need your strength to overcome their difficult ailment, so be patient and compassionate to help them through it.

 

 

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Sources:
Pet Cancer Awareness. Pet Cancer Information. http://www.petcancerawareness.org/facts.html
PetMD. Top ten signs of cancer in pets. http://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/general_health/top-ten-signs-of-cancer-in-pets
WebMD. Dogs and cancer: get the facts. http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dogs-and-cancer-get-the-facts