More Facts About Cancer In Pets
WHAT has become very worrisome to me, currently, is the rate at which pets are diagnosed with cancer. I can categorically state that in the last six months, we have encountered about 12 different cases, which represents more than 100 per cent increase, compared to the same period last year.
The question is: why is cancer so common? Robin Downing made an apt conclusion: “Because our animal companions enjoy the benefit of better nutrition, better preventive health care, advances in veterinary medicine and closer family relationships, they are living longer.” And longer life is a two-edged sword.
However, as animals live longer, a lot more diseases that accompany aging, such as cancers, are diagnosed, especially in certain breeds of dogs, like Boxers, Golden Retrievers and Bernese Mountain dogs, owing to genetic influences.
Pets are also exposed to the same environmental influences- toxins (like UV radiation, secondhand smoke that pervades everywhere, stress and also certain dietary indiscretions.
The next concern is: If the occurrence of cancer in pets is so common, how can I prevent my pet from being on the negative side of events?
Unfortunately, the answer is a disappointing “I don’t know.” What we do know in veterinary medicine is that the incidence of cancer in the mammary glands of dogs is reduced when ovariohysterectomy (removal of the uterus and ovaries) is performed prior to the first estrus (heat, i.e. the dog being in season) cycle.
We also do know that we can prevent cancer of the testicles in the male dog by neutering.
But for other types of cancers, answers are not known yet and it is quite intriguing that these things just happen and we become helpless.
The cheering news, however, is that with early detection, we may just be able to curtail the devastating effects of cancer in our loving pets. And this can only be achieved by making sure that our vets remain our best friends.
Pets should be presented for thorough examination at least twice a year, especially when they are approaching their geriatric years, which for some breeds of dogs starts as early as four to five years of age.
In fact, the difference between years of suffering cancer and very blissful ones depends on the vigilance and responsibility on the part of pet owners.
Cancer is diagnosed in very many different ways, but there is a common denominator among many different types of cancers.
Sometimes, it is either a lump or a bump. Sometimes, it is a behavioural change, like decreased activity, increased sleeping, difficulty getting up and down, decreased appetite, increased thirst and so many others.
The Veterinary Cancer Society (www.vetcancersociety.org) has developed a list of the top 10 warning signs of cancer:
1. Abnormal swellings that persists or continue to grow.
2. Sores that do not heal.
3. Weight loss.
4. Loss of Appetite.
5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening.
6. Offensive odour.
7. Difficulty in eating or swallowing.
8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina.
9. Persistent lameness or stiffness.
10. Difficulty in breathing, urinating or defecating.
Any of these or a combination should prompt a formal examination and diagnosis process of cancer.
You should work hand-in-hand with your vet and offer your maxim.