Cancer is probably the most frightening word in the English language. Anyone who has walked through a cancer diagnosis, either themselves or with a loved one, knows how difficult this journey can be. There is no shortage of information about ways to prevent cancer, the importance of early detection and of course cutting-edge treatments that are available. All of these tools help give us hope in combatting this dreaded disease as well as hope in the midst of fighting it.
However, while we invest much in cancer awareness for ourselves and loved ones, it is important not to over look this disease when it comes to our pets. Cancer awareness for our pets is also an important issue and one that, honestly, deserves a bit more attention.
CANCER AWARENESS IN PETS
Cancer is the leading cause of death in older cats and dogs. As your pet gets older, it is important to be aware of this fact and give even greater attention to your pet’s health. As your dog or cat age, it’s advisable to increase their vet check-ups from once per year to twice per year. As with humans, early detection of cancer in pets is one of the best ways to fight the disease and give your pet a better chance of survival. What are some ways to help prevent Cancer in pets? Well, they look very similar to cancer prevention in humans; here is a list of preventive measures.
- Feed your pet a healthy diet
- Give your pet regular exercise
- Make sure your pet receives regular vet visits and their vaccines are current
- Spay or Neuter your pet at an early age; this is so vital to your pet’s over-all health especially as they age.
POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS OF CANCER
As we mentioned above, early detection is always best and will likely give your pet a better chance to survive and thrive. One of the best ways to detect a problem early is to check your pet’s body, much like we check our own. Massage your pet regularly and search for any small lumps or masses that my have formed. Symptoms to watch for are:
- A new mass on or under the skin
- Unexplained weight loss
- Decreased appetite and/or energy level
- Changes in drinking or urinating habits
- Persistent limping in an older, large breed dog
- Persistent discharge from the nose, coughing or sneezing
Treatment options for pets are similar to those for humans such as Radiation, Chemo and the newer more cutting-edge approach of Immuno-therapy. One of the biggest hindrances to treatments for pets with Cancer is the cost. If you have pet insurance, this will likely cover most of the expenses; if not, you will be paying out of pocket for all of your pet’s treatment. If treatment of your pet’s cancer offers a good prognosis, then the expense is very worthwhile. One option you may consider when it comes to treatment is to find out if there are clinical veterinary trials happening in your area. These are research trials run by vets seeking to get a better understanding of diseases affecting pets and possible treatments. This can be a great option for three reasons:
- Your pet gets the treatment needed.
- Your costs are minimized or eliminated all-together because of your participation in the trial.
- You and your pet help advance the cause of research and possibly finding successful treatments.
While Cancer is never an easy word to hear, it is important to not lose hope and do everything possible to bring healing to your pet. However, maintaining a healthy life-style and being faithful with regular vet checks is the best way to keep your pet healthy.