Recognizing the Signs of Cancer in Pets
A cancer diagnosis is frightening for anyone, yet cancer is prevalent among humans and our pet companions. Fortunately, these days, advancements in both human and veterinary medicine means treatments are much more effective.
While sometimes similar to humans, the signs and treatments for various types of cancers are unique in pets. The team at Clairmont Animal Hospital is here to alleviate some of the worries around the big “C” and to help you understand more about cancer in pets.
Common Forms of Cancer in Pets
Neoplasia is the abnormal growth of cells in the body resulting in tumors and other masses. Some forms of neoplasia are benign, while others become malignant and are considered cancerous.
Some of the more common types of cancer in pets include:
- Osteosarcoma – Cancer of the bone
- Melanoma – A form of skin cancer
- Lymphoma – Cancer of the lymph nodes
- Hemangiosarcoma – Cancer of the blood vessels
- Mast cell tumors – Often found on the skin and tissues of the intestines and respiratory tract
- Mammary cancer – Typically affects unspayed females or females who were spayed after 2 years of age
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death among canines. In fact, an estimated 1 out of every 4 dogs will receive a cancer diagnosis. While cancer isn’t as prevalent in cats, it is sadly more often than not fatal. The most common type of feline cancer is lymphoma (resulting from the feline leukemia virus).
Signs of Cancer in Pets
Depending on the type of cancer, symptoms can manifest quite differently. The following signs should be taken seriously and brought to the attention of your veterinarian:
- A lump that changes/grows
- A wound that doesn’t heal
- Unexplained bleeding or discharge
- Weight loss
- Acting as if in pain
- Changes in bowel movement/urination
- Foul smelling breath
While many of these symptoms can indicate other health issues, they certainly warrant a full examination. Please contact us if you observe any of these signs in your pet.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Cancer is a large umbrella term that refers to several types of conditions, and each form can present in various ways. A diagnosis is therefore based on the type of cancer and its stage. In many cases, blood tests can determine a diagnosis; for others, x-rays and/or ultrasounds are helpful. Sometimes, surgery to perform a biopsy may also be needed.
Despite a cancer diagnosis, there is much to be hopeful for given the advances veterinary medicine has made in curing and extending the lives of affected pets. Our goal is to give cancer patients the best possible life for the longest period of time. This sometimes means that treatment is less invasive or complicated than one might expect.
At Clairmont, we use a multimodal approach, which can include chemotherapy, minimally invasive surgery, and laparoscopy. Each patient is given an individualized treatment plan that incorporates your wishes in their recovery and treatment options.
We want to educate owners and increase awareness about the signs of cancer in pets until we can all enjoy a cure! Please call us for more information or to schedule an appointment for your pet.