It’s pet cancer awareness month, and the burning question here at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is whether we stand a chance when it comes to preventing pet cancer. The long and short of it is that we can’t entirely, but with some diligent wellness care, we are not totally helpless when it comes to pet cancer.
Pet Cancer Awareness
The first step to doing battle with something like cancer is understanding what it is. While the word cancer is commonly used, the term really isn’t very specific. “Cancer” simply refers to cells within the body that are dividing abnormally.
Cancer may have different effects depending on what cell type it arises from, where it is located, and how it affects surrounding normal tissues. Cancer cells can arise from almost any type of cell within the body including bone, blood, organs, or soft tissues.
A pet who is affected by cancer might have a variety of symptoms that depend on the specific cancer itself. Benign tumors tend to have less severe effects than malignant cancers that may spread or invade other tissues.
Please call us for an appointment if your pet is having symptoms such as:
- A lump or bump that is new
- A lump or bump that has grown or changed
- Decreased activity level
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss without an explanation
- Coughing or other breathing problems
- A non-healing wound
While these symptoms are far from specific to just cancer, they are all definitely signs that something is wrong. Diagnostic testing is in order to get to the bottom of things.
Cancer Prevention Tips
Because we don’t fully understand why cancer sometimes develops, there is no foolproof way to prevent pet cancer entirely. That doesn’t mean that things are completely hopeless, though.
Do your part to prevent pet cancer by:
Keeping a good pet wellness program—Being proactive is important when it comes to pet cancer prevention. Routine examinations and wellness screening tests can help to detect trouble early in its course when options are still available.
Feeding a good diet—A healthy, balanced diet is key to making sure that your pet is happy and healthy. We are happy to help you develop a good nutrition plan for your pet.
Maintaining a healthy body weight—Obesity has been linked to increased cancer risk in pets and people. Cancer prevention is just one more reason to be sure that your pet maintains a healthy weight.
Avoiding carcinogens—There are many substances in the environment that have been shown to increase cancer risk. Being sure that you avoid exposing your pet to things like lawn chemicals, cigarette smoke, intense sun exposure, and chemical fumes can decrease cancer risk.
Knowing breed predispositions—Certain breeds are known to be at higher risk for developing certain cancers. Knowing that your golden retriever is at high risk for hemangiosarcoma or your rottweiler might be at increased risk for osteosarcoma can help you to be on the lookout for trouble.
Hopefully someday we will have a cure for cancer and not have to worry about it in our loved ones, four and two-legged alike. Until then, we can work together as a team to prevent pet cancer where possible, detect it early when it occurs, and use all the resources at our disposal to treat it whenever possible. Call us at (210) 681‑1391 to learn more about your options for addressing pet cancer.