What is cancer?
Cancer refers to the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells or tissues. These growths are called “tumors” or “neoplasms.” Tumors can be either benign or malignant. If the tumor is benign, then it grows slowly and it does not invade other tissues or spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors tend to be unpredictable and can grow much faster than benign tumors. They may invade surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body. It is very common for pets to develop either benign or malignant tumors, but only the malignant tumors are considered cancers.
What are the symptoms of cancer?
Spotting the symptoms of cancer can be tough. The signs can vary based on the location and severity of the tumor. Most of these symptoms can also be signs of a different condition. Be sure to contact your vet if you notice any of these signs:
- Abdominal swelling
- Difficulty breathing or eating
- Lumps or bumps
- Weight changes
- Wounds or sores that won’t heal
- Abnormal discharge such as blood or pus
Talk to your veterinarian as soon as you notice one of these signs. The earlier your vet can diagnose your pet, the better the chances of treatment.
What are the treatment options?
Tumors are usually treatable and an early diagnosis will help the treatment succeed. Even if the tumor cannot be cured, treatment can still help improve and prolong your pet’s life. The method of treatment and care will depend on your pet’s specific needs.
Your pet may undergo one or a combination of therapies including chemotherapy, surgery, or immunotherapy. Other therapies or dietary changes may be recommended as well. Listen to your veterinarian’s suggestions to help your pet’s response to their treatment.
After your pet is diagnosed, your veterinarian may offer you several options. It’s important to give these options significant thought and discuss them with your loved ones so you can make the best choice for your pet.
Is it possible to prevent cancer?
The cause of cancer is still unknown, so it is currently tough to prevent it. However, there are a few precautions you can take. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of some types of pet cancers, so avoid smoking around your pet. Spaying your dog can help reduce the chance of mammary cancer.
Although cancer prevention isn’t possible, you can still take steps to identify it in the early stages. Schedule regular checkups or cancer screenings with your veterinarian so you can find any tumors as soon as possible. By being proactive and working with your veterinarian, you can increase your pet’s chances at a successful recovery and a long, happy life.