How to Tell If Your Dog or Cat Has Cancer
Each November, pet lovers mark National Pet Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. This special designation aims to help pet owners prevent, detect and fight cancer in our furry friends.
Cancer can develop in any dog or cat. While some breeds are more commonly affected, pet cancer can strike regardless of breed or age. Statistics show that one in five cats and one in four dogs are diagnosed with cancer.
Let’s take a look at how you can recognize symptoms of cancer in your dog or cat, and how to prevent and treat it.
Why Do We Need Pet Cancer Awareness Month?
First marked nearly 20 years ago, Pet Cancer Awareness Month aims to boost awareness about pet cancer and advances in treatment.
The Veterinary Cancer Society lists cancer as a leading cause of death in adult dogs and cats, at 47% and 32%, respectively.
Just like in people, cancer occurs when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. These abnormal cells form a mass called a tumor, which can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Cancer cells can invade and destroy nearby tissue and can also break away from a malignant tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymph nodes to spread to different parts of the body.
There are about 100 different types of canine and feline cancers, but the most common include lymphoma, melanoma (skin cancer), squamous cell carcinoma, mast cell tumors, (osteosarcoma) bone cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer.
7 Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs or Cats
Symptoms of cancer in pets can be difficult to detect and may go unnoticed by owners. Complicating things further, different forms of cancer can cause different symptoms.
Common symptoms of cancer in cats and dogs can be similar to those in people:
- Weight loss
- Anorexia (not eating)
- New lump, bump or mass
- Behavioral changes
- Wound that doesn’t heal
These symptoms can also be caused by many other health conditions. If you notice your pet acting differently or see something abnormal on their body, talk to your vet right away. Early detection is the key to giving your pet the best quality of life for as long as possible. Watch senior pets especially closely, as half of dogs older than 10 years develop cancer.
How to Prevent Cancer in Pets
Many cancers in pets, just as with people, cannot be fully prevented. But there are steps you can take to minimize your pet’s risk.
A healthy diet, plenty of exercise, low stress and regular veterinary checkups are recommended.
To reduce risk of reproductive system cancers like breast cancer in female animals, many vets recommend early spaying. Similarly, they recommend neutering to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and testicular cancer in male animals.
Brushing your dog’s teeth frequently, and having your vet do regular dental cleanings, may help prevent oral cancer.
Make sure to feed your pet a diet rich in antioxidants to support an overall robust immune system. Not all pet food is created equal—the quality of ingredients is important. Cheap pet food full of fillers causes increased risk of health problems, including cancer. Buy the best quality pet food and treats you can afford.
Treatment Options for Cats and Dogs With Cancer
Options for treating cancer in pets depends on the location and severity of the diagnosis.
Surgery is the most common treatment for pet cancer, dating back hundreds of years. Over the last 20 years, immunotherapy has emerged as another cancer treatment. Immunotherapy boosts the body’s own ability to fight cancer. Radiation therapy is helpful for some kinds of cancers.
Generic and off-label versions of human cancer treatments may be used for dogs. In 2009, the FDA approved a cancer drug specifically for dogs. Be sure to discuss possible side effects of any treatment with your veterinarian.
Natural remedies for pet cancer
For a safe, holistic approach to helping a pet with symptoms commonly associated with cancer, try homeopathic remedies and herbal supplements from PetAlive. Each 100% natural PetAlive supplement is manufactured using a full-spectrum process.
One of our top supplements for pets with symptoms commonly associated with cancer and cellular health is C-Caps™, which promotes cellular and immune system health in dogs and cats. C-Caps is an herbal supplement capsule that supports red and white blood cell health, energy levels and vitality. It helps maintain healthy organs, tissues and cells, and also supports a healthy appetite along with waste and toxin elimination.
It’s important for pet owners to educate themselves on the symptoms of cancer, so they can spot the warning signs and consult a veterinarian as early as possible. C-Caps from PetAlive is a safe, natural supplement that helps cats and dogs with symptoms commonly associated with cancer feel their best.
In case you missed it, check out our other PetAlive Blog Posts – National Pet Wellness Month.
- “National Pet Cancer Awareness Month – November 2022.” National Today. Accessed November 1, 2022. https://nationaltoday.com/national-pet-cancer-awareness-month/#:~:text=National%20Pet%20Cancer%20Awareness%20Month%20%E2%80%93%20November%202022
- “Cancer in Cats: Symptoms, Types and Treatment.” PetMD. Accessed November 1, 2022. https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/cancer/cancer-cats-symptoms-types-and-treatment-0
- “Home Care for the Cancer Patient.” Cornell Feline Health Center, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Accessed November 1, 2022. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/home-care-cancer-patient
- “My Dog Has Cancer: What Do I Need to Know?” U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Accessed November 1, 2022. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/my-dog-has-cancer-what-do-i-need-know
- “Cancer in Dogs: What to Know.” Fetch by WebMD. Accessed November 1, 2022. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/dogs-and-cancer-get-the-facts#1