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Pets and Cancer

May 1, 2024

In May, many organizations unite for cancer awareness. Unfortunately, cancer is a frequent occurrence in our cherished furry companions. It continues to be the leading cause of disease-related death for dogs and cats in the United States. Approximately 25% of dogs and 20% of cats are diagnosed. Read on to gain valuable insights about this potentially harmful illness from a Mattoon, IL veterinarian.

What Are The Factors That Contribute To Cancer In Pets?

There isn’t a single known definitive cause for pet cancer, but it appears that environmental and genetic factors play a significant role. 

Just like with humans, the incidence of cancer in pets is increasing. It is probable that this is the result of heightened exposure to cancer-causing substances like pesticides, chemicals, secondhand tobacco, and similar factors.

Are Certain Dog Breeds At Higher Risk Of Getting Cancer?

Cancer can affect dogs of all breeds and ages. Nevertheless, certain puppies may have a higher susceptibility than their counterparts. These include the Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, Bernese Mountain Dog, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Poodle, Beagle, Scottish Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres, Cocker Spaniel, Bichon Frisé, Doberman Pinscher, Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Boston Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, and Pug.

If you don’t know what breed Fido is, it might be worth considering a doggy DNA test. This can help bring to light any particular illnesses or diseases that your pup may be susceptible to. This information can be extremely helpful.

Which Types Of Cancer Are Most Commonly Found In Pets?

There are different types of cancer that can impact pets. In fact, there are actually over 30 distinct types of lymphoma alone.

That said, let’s explore some of the frequently encountered ones:  

Fibrosarcoma This specific form of cancer affects the body’s soft tissues. It is fairly common among felines. The good news is that its spread is relatively slow. It can, however, be very aggressive.  Fortunately, a diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end for our beloved feline friends. With proper care, cats can live for many years, though of course that lifespan will vary for each individual kitty.

Mast Cell Tumor Tumors of this kind frequently develop on or near the skin’s surface, but can also appear in other parts of the body, such as the eyes, mouth, throat, and spine. Surgery may be an option,  but the tumor’s size and location determine whether that is a viable choice or not.

Lymphoma Lymphoma impacts a particular kind of white blood cell called a lymphocyte, along with other lymphoid tissues like the lymph nodes, bone marrow, and liver. With cats, afflicted kitties often encounter problems with their digestive system.  Fortunately, chemotherapy has proven to be highly effective in the treatment of feline lymphoma. A recent study found that approximately 70 percent of cats experienced remission following chemotherapy treatment.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SSC) This condition affects the mouth. Warning signs include excessive drooling, unexplained bleeding, and difficulty with eating. Surgery can be an option, but can be very tricky with smaller animals.

Mammary Tumors Just like humans, pets can also develop breast cancer. This happens to female dogs rather frequently. Additionally, these types of tumors are frequently discovered in our feline companions as well.  Indeed, mammary tumors constitute a considerable proportion of neoplasias.  Unfortunately, most feline mammary tumors are malignant and have the potential to metastasize to other areas of the body, including the lungs and lymph nodes. Often, surgery is suggested as a viable treatment option. In some cases, pets may benefit further from further chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Osteosarcoma Osteosarcoma mainly affects the skeletal system and can result in significant discomfort. Some dog breeds, like Dobermans, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Irish Wolfhounds, Rottweilers, and Weimaraners, are more likely to develop this form of cancer.

What Are Symptoms Of Cancer In Pets?

Cancer can produce a range of symptoms. Being mindful of warning signs is crucial. Some of the key ones include bloating, changes in bathroom routine, decreased energy, mood changes, difficulties with eating, limping, unpleasant odor, bleeding or discharge, fatigue, reduced tolerance for physical activity, vomiting, urinary difficulties, lack of appetite, wounds, weight loss, respiratory issues, inflammation, discomfort, unusual breath odor, coughing, straining during elimination, decreased stamina, and changes in water intake.

Pay attention to any general changes in behavior as well. Pets that aren’t feeling well often just don’t act like themselves. An affectionate feline can sometimes display signs of irritability or aggression, whereas a cat with a less sociable nature may surprisingly seek out affection. 

If you see any of these signs, or notice anything else that just seems out of character for your pet, contact your Mattoon, IL veterinary clinic immediately. Remember, the sooner an issue is diagnosed and treated, the better! 

What’s the Difference Between Neoplasia, Tumors, and Cancer?

Neoplasia, tumors, and cancers are different, although there is a considerable potential for overlap among them.

Neoplasia refers to the abnormal growth of cells. This could be either benign or cancerous. A tumor is a result of cells growing abnormally. Although benign tumors can still be dangerous, depending on their location, their ability to spread throughout the body is relatively low. Cancerous tumors can rapidly spread and migrate to various parts of the body. To put it very simply, cancer is a dangerous type of abnormal cell growth. Ask your Mattoon, IL vet for more information.

What Are The Available Treatment Options?

As is the case with humans, pets have three primary options for cancer treatment: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. There are also other treatment options available, such as immunotherapy, cryotherapy, hyperthermia, and radioactive Iodine I-131. Then there is palliative care, which prioritizes the pet’s comfort instead of aggressively battling the cancer. Some pets may also benefit from alternative treatments, such as laser therapy, nutritional therapy, and acupuncture. However, these are definitely not one-size-fits-all. 

There are a few things to take into account in this situation, such as the stage and type of cancer, as well as your pet’s overall well-being. A dog with an early-stage tumor on its leg may have a more favorable outlook compared to a cat with advanced lung cancer.  Each pet is different, so the best option is really going to be based on the diagnosis. Your pet’s age and health also factor in. Once your vet has finished a detailed evaluation of your pet and received all the required test results or screenings, they will be able to go over the information with you. 

As responsible caretakers for our cherished animal companions, it is our responsibility to make informed decisions on their behalf. As mentioned above, there are several treatment options to consider. However, it’s also important to prioritize the well-being and joy of your beloved pet. We recognize the challenges you may be facing, and we know how strong the bonds between pets and people can be. We are here to provide you with the assistance you need.  

Schedule An Appointment At Our Mattoon, IL Pet Clinic 

Have you observed any of these symptoms in your cherished pet? Do you worry about the possibility of your pet developing cancer? Feel free to contact us at our Mattoon, IL animal clinic! We are dedicated to providing both top-notch care and excellent customer service. 

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