May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Cancer is the number one disease related killer of pets. Cancer is a broad term used to describe cells within the body that grow & divide at an abnormal rate and manner often causing tumors or masses. Cancer cells do not always cause growths, however. It can affect the blood which then circulates the abnormal cells throughout the body.

Pets of any age can develop cancer, but it is generally more common in adult, or older animals. Some breeds of dogs and cats have a predisposition to certain types of cancer, so talk to your vet about any risk factors that might affect your pet.

In many cases, pet cancer is treatable depending on the type of cancer and how far it has progressed.  We have come a long way in the field of veterinary oncology. There are more options for treating cancer, and improving quality of life. Early detection is critical for optimal success. Your pet should receive an exam twice a year, and have bloodwork done at least once yearly. If there is cause for concern, your vet may recommend additional diagnostic tests like x-rays or an ultrasound.

Some things to watch for in your pets are: swellings or growths that persist, or grow rapidly; sores that won’t heal; weight loss; poor appetite; lethargy; labored breathing; persistent lameness, etc.

Remember that not all growths are cancerous. So don’t be afraid at the first sign of a strange growth. Above all don’t wait to get your pet checked out for fear for of  what it might be. Remember early detection is our best weapon!