History of Pet Cancer Awareness Month
Cancer in pets has been documented since the very first domesticated animals in Egypt in 1600 B.C. The invention of the microscope in 1590 brought about a greater awareness for cancer in both pets and humans, however progress in developing treatment methods remained slow. But, in the 1960s, a few veterinarians pioneered the creation of the field of clinical veterinary oncology which has since grown rapidly over the past couple decades. The first National Pet Cancer Awareness Month was marked in 2005 and was officially declared to raise money and awareness to aid in the fight against cancer in pets.
What are the common types of cancer in pets?
Lymphoma/Lymphosarcoma: an encompassing term for cancer that originates from white blood cells called lymphocytes. The most common types of lymphoma in dogs are multicentric, alimentary, mediastinal and extranodal lymphoma.
Mast Cell Tumors: occur in the skin or just underneath the skin and can be occasionally found in the eyes, mouth, throat, and spine.
Melanoma: frequently bening and easily treated but can turn malignant and spread quickly.
Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer): often found in the larger or longer bones of a dog and are more likely to occur in larger breed dogs including dobermans, boxers, golden retrievers, German shepherds, Irish wolfhounds, rottweilers, and weimaraners.
Hemangiosarcoma: are very serious and require emergency intervention. They can grow anywhere blood vessels are present including organs such as the heart and lungs.
Fibrosarcoma: a slow spreading form of cancer. Treatment options usually only include amputation or radiation treatment.
What are some signs of cancer to look for in my pet?
There are many different kinds of cancer, so depending on the type and location of the illness, the cancer signs may vary. However, if your pet showcases any physical or behavioral symptoms, this may be a sign of cancer. Some of the common symptoms to look out for in your pet include loss of stamina, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and unusual swelling which could be a sign of swollen lymph nodes or cancer tumors. Other warning signs that may not be as apparent are unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, foul odor, and difficulty with stool or urination.
How can I reduce the risk of cancer in my pets?
Unfortunately, all pets are at a risk for this disease as cancer in animals is not uncommon, and statistics reveal that about four in ten dogs will develop cancerous conditions sometime in their life. According to the Veterinary Cancer Society, older dogs are even more likely to acquire this illness as it is the leading cause of death in dogs older than ten years old. While there is no definitive way to avoid this devastating disease, simply attending regular veterinary checkups, monitoring your pet for cancerous symptoms, and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen are helpful steps that can greatly reduce your pet’s risk of cancer.