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Cancer In Pets

May 1, 2024

May is dedicated to raising awareness about cancer. Regrettably, cancer is very prevalent in our beloved furry companions. It is the leading cause of disease-related death for both dogs and cats in the United States. Approximately 25% of our canine companions and 20% of our feline friends are affected. Gain some valuable insight into this dangerous disease from a local veterinarian in Brookville, PA.

What Are The Causes Of Cancer In Pets?

There isn’t a single definitive cause of cancer in pets, though it appears that genetics and the environment play significant roles. Just like with humans, the incidence of cancer in pets is increasing. This is likely the result of heightened exposure to carcinogens, including pesticides, chemicals, secondhand tobacco, and so forth.

What Are The Treatment Options For Cancer In Pets?

Similar to humans, pets can undergo three primary forms of cancer treatment: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, there are also many new and/or supportive options. Some of the treatments available are immunotherapy, cryotherapy, hyperthermia, and radioactive Iodine I-131. Another option is palliative care, which prioritizes the pet’s comfort as opposed to aggressively battling the cancer. Other treatments that can provide support include laser therapy, nutritional therapy, and acupuncture. Many pets can greatly benefit from a combination of different therapies.

Once your pet has been diagnosed and evaluated, your veterinarian will talk you through your options.

There are a number of factors to take into consideration in this situation, among the most vital of which are the stage of the cancer, the type of cancer, and the quality of life of your pet. A dog with an early-stage tumor on its leg is likely to have a more favorable outlook compared to a cat with advanced lung cancer.  

Do Certain Dog Breeds Have A Higher Risk Of Cancer?

Cancer can affect dogs of all breeds and ages. However, certain puppies are more susceptible to risks than others. It’s worth noting that boxers have a higher susceptibility to cancer compared to other breeds. Other pups that are highly susceptible include the Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, Bernese Mountain Dog, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Poodle, Beagle, Scottish Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres, Cocker Spaniel, Bichon Fris√©, Doberman Pinscher, Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Boston Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, and Pug.

If you’re unsure about the breed of your furry friend, it’s worth considering a doggy DNA test. It can be incredibly beneficial to determine if Fido is prone to any particular illnesses or diseases, not only for this situation but also for other health-related purposes.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Cancer In Pets?

Pets can be impacted by a variety of cancer types. In fact, there are over 30 different types of lymphoma. 

With that being said, here are a few of the most frequently encountered ones:  

  • Lymphoma Lymphoma impacts a particular type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte, along with other lymphoid tissues like the lymph nodes, bone marrow, and liver. It commonly affects the digestive system of cats. There are more than 30 different types of canine lymphoma. Other medical issues, such as feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus, can also trigger it. Fortunately, chemotherapy has proven to be highly effective in treating feline lymphoma. A study found that approximately 70 percent of cats experienced remission following chemotherapy treatment.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SSC) This condition affects the mouth and is a serious health concern. Some early warning signs to watch out for are excessive drooling, unexplained bleeding, and difficulty with eating. Surgeries are frequently advised, but due to the small size of cats’ mouths, the procedures can be quite challenging.¬† Additional treatment options may include radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Fibrosarcoma This specific form of cancer affects the soft tissues of the body. It is a frequent occurrence among cats. The good news is that it spreads slowly. It can be really aggressive, though. As the cancer progresses, Fluffy may appear tired and lacking energy. Additionally, she might experience a decrease in appetite and potentially suffer from dehydration. Fortunately, a diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of the road for our feline friends. With appropriate care, cats can live for up to a year or even longer, although the specific outlook will naturally differ for each individual feline.
  • Mast Cell Tumor With this type of cancer, tumors commonly develop on or near the skin’s surface. However, they can also occur in areas such as the eyes, mouth, throat, and spine. Timely detection is crucial in this case, as the tumor’s location and size are determining factors for its operability.
  • Mammary Tumors Did you know pets may get breast cancer? Female dogs commonly develop mammary tumors, which account for a significant percentage of neoplasias. They are also frequently found in our feline companions. Regrettably, a significant majority of feline mammary tumors are malignant, indicating their potential to metastasize to other areas of the body, including the lungs and lymph nodes. Many times, surgery is suggested as a treatment option. In some cases, pets may find additional benefits from radiation or chemotherapy afterward.
  • Osteosarcoma Osteosarcoma affects the bones. It’s no surprise that this specific type of cancer causes significant pain. Some dog breeds, like Dobermans, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Irish Wolfhounds, Rottweilers, and Weimaraners, have a higher susceptibility to this type of cancer.

What Are The Indications Of Cancer In Pets?

Cancers can lead to a range of symptoms. Warning signs to be aware of include Changes in appetite, wounds, weight loss, coughing or difficulty breathing, swelling, pain, bad breath with a strange odor, abdominal swelling, changes in bathroom habits, lethargy or depression, vaginal discharge, difficulty eating, lameness, foul odor, bleeding or discharge, lethargy, exercise intolerance, vomiting, difficulty urinating, cough, straining to urinate or defecate, decreased energy levels, and changes in water consumption.

It’s crucial to be mindful of any overall shifts in behavior. If Fluffy isn’t feeling well, she may not behave like her usual self. A typically affectionate cat can sometimes display irritability or aggression, whereas a cat with a sour disposition may suddenly seek out cuddles. Alterations in vocalization can also serve as a potential indication.

If you spot any of these, it is important to immediately get in touch with your veterinary clinic. It’s crucial to identify and address issues as early as possible!

What Sets Neoplasia, Tumors, And Cancer Apart From Each Other?

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

Neoplasia refers to the development of abnormal cell growth. This could be either benign or malignant. A tumor is the actual growth. Although benign tumors can still pose a threat, depending on where they are located, they do not have the ability to spread throughout the body. Cancerous tumors have the ability to spread rapidly and metastasize to other parts of the body. Cancer is a malignant neoplasia.

Treatment And Prognosis For Pets Diagnosed With Cancer

Each pet is unique, so the treatments available will differ based on the specific diagnosis. Once your vet has thoroughly assessed your pet and received the necessary test results or screenings, they will provide you with detailed information.

As responsible caregivers for our animal companions, it is our responsibility to make informed decisions on their behalf. There are effective treatment options available for consideration, but it’s crucial to prioritize the well-being and happiness of your beloved pet. We completely empathize with the challenges you may be facing, and we are here to provide you with the assistance you need.  

Schedule An Appointment At Our Brookville, PA Pet Clinic

Have you observed any of these symptoms in your furry companion? Do you worry about the possibility of your beloved pet developing cancer? Get in touch with us, your Brookville, PA animal clinic, today!