Beating the Odds: Decreasing the Incidence of Cancer in Pets

cancer in petsWhether we like it or not, pets (and people) get sick. Some illnesses are preventable, while others are unavoidable. Similar to cancer in people, the causes of cancer in pets fall into a gray area that combines several factors.

Cancer is one of the more common conditions that we diagnose in our animal friends. In fact, more than half of pets who enter their senior years will be diagnosed with some form of cancer.

Thanks to modern veterinary medicine, there are better and more effective ways of treating or managing cancer now than ever before. Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates would rather help you to avoid the need for a cure by identifying the cancer risks that can be eliminated or decreased.

The “C” Word

The most important step in overcoming a challenge is knowing what it takes to successfully deal with it. Unfortunately, understanding cancer is quite a feat.

The term cancer is used all the time, but it is actually not a very specific word. It simply refers to a condition in which cells of a tissue within the body are dividing rapidly. This can have many implications, depending on what and where the affected tissues are. These rapidly dividing cells may be within an organ, connective tissues, or even blood.

Cancer may also be benign (not inherently harmful) or malignant (invasive, destroying normal tissues, and likely to spread to other places in the body).

Symptoms of cancer depend entirely on what the cancer is and where it is located. Benign and malignant cancers behave very differently as well. In general, symptoms of cancer can include:

  • A lump or bump, particularly one that grows or changes
  • Decreased energy
  • Inappetence
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Limping
  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wounds that won’t heal

Of course, many other conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to let us know right away if your pet is displaying these or any other concerning signs. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical in a more favorable prognosis.

Practical Steps to Preventing Cancer in Pets

No one wants their pet to be diagnosed with cancer. While we are still waiting on the science to be able to eradicate cancer in pets, there are some things that you can do to help decrease the odds of a cancer diagnosis.

Be sure to:

Provide quality preventative care – A good defense is often a good offense. Bringing your pet in for routine examinations and participating in wellness screening tests and treatments, such as strategic vaccinations and parasite prevention, can go a long way towards keeping your furry friend healthy.

Nourish from the inside out – You are what you eat. Feeding a good quality diet can help to keep your pet healthy in more ways than one. There is no one-size-fits-all diet plan that is best for all pets, so it is our pleasure to help you develop the best nutritional program for your four-legged family member.

Keep your pet in tip top shape – Maintaining a healthy body weight and participating in regular exercise have been shown to help prevent cancer in pets and people alike.

Avoid carcinogens – Steering clear of substances shown to lead to cancerous changes in cells can lower the risk of developing cancer. Cigarette smoke, lawn chemicals, long-term sun exposure, and paints or solvents are all well-known carcinogens that can often be avoided.

Know your pet’s breed – Some breeds are at higher risk for certain types of cancer than others. While recognizing this won’t lessen the incidence of cancer, being vigilant about your breed’s dispositions can help alert you to worrisome changes earlier, increasing your chances of a better outcome.

Being aware is half the battle. Pay close attention to minor changes in your pet. It isn’t a bad practice to make a point of going over your pet, nose-to-tail, once a week or more often, so that you are aware of what is normal. Catching things early is key to a long and happy life.

We still have much to learn and apply before we can entirely prevent cancer in pets, but we are getting closer. Hopefully, one day this will be a diagnosis that none of us ever have to deal with, but until then, don’t forget that we are here to help. Please call us with any questions or concerns you might have.