November 10, 2021
Get the Facts: Cancer in Dogs and Cats
Cancer is the worst word in any pet parent’s vocabulary. It can be hard enough hearing that your furry friend has cancer. According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, an estimated 6 million dogs and an additional 6 million cats are diagnosed with cancer each year. Let's take a look at the signs and and options for diagnosis and treatment.
What are the early signs and symptoms of cancer in dogs? Cats?
Unfortunately, cancer is one of those ailments that do not come with clear signs and symptoms. Early signs and symptoms of cancer are the same as seen with a wide variety of ailments, many of which are not nearly as serious. These signs would include, but not be limited to, weight loss, decreased appetite, muscle loss, and odd growths either under or on the skin.
What are some ways vets diagnose cancer?
Cancer is often diagnosed by cytology using a fine-needle-aspirate and biopsy of a suspicious lesion. Some internal cancers can be diagnosed using radiographs and ultrasound. Other cancers are often diagnosed more as a diagnosis of exclusion than by any specific means. This is where we have ruled out any other explanation for your pet’s ailment except for cancer.
Which cancer treatment options are available for dogs? Cats? How is pet cancer treated?
Cancer treatments available to pets greatly mimic those of humans including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and nuclear therapy depending on type and location of lesion.
Is cancer in dogs and cats preventable? If yes, what can be done?
We do not know exactly what causes cancer to form in our pets, and as such, we do not have specific preventable measures. Like humans, the recommendations for pets include regular health screenings/check-ups to keep your pet healthy and allow their body to fight cancer to the best of its ability.
Is it true that spaying/neutering your dog/cat will prevent cancer?
Spaying/neutering your dog/cat will completely prevent the formation of reproductive cancers in that pet. For example, if you remove the testicles, you no longer have the risk of developing testicular cancer.