Can We Stop Pet Cancer Before It Happens?
Preventive medicine is the norm now, a fact that we’re pretty happy about. Instead of waiting for a problem to occur, pet owners have the tools and access to stop health issues from even developing. This means more possible time with your pet and a higher quality of life as they age. Pet cancer is one of the several diseases becoming more common in pets, in part because they are living longer. What can we do to prevent the disease from gaining traction?
It’s All About the Routine
As pets age, we recommend scheduling two wellness visits a year. When we have the chance to examine and test your pet every six months, the odds of early detection increase. More often than not, this type of consistent vigilance strengthens a pet’s chances at battling whatever they face.
What Is Pet Cancer?
Cancer is the name given to the abnormal division of body cells, including bone, blood, soft tissues, or organ cells. Depending on the location in the body, which cells are affected, and the specific type of cancer, the symptoms of the disease may look different.
Malignant cancers spread throughout the body. Conversely, benign tumors may not ever bother a pet, or cause them pain or mobility issues. To determine what is going on, we urge pet owners to call us if the following symptoms ever present themselves:
- New lump or bump
- An existing lump or bump that appears larger than before or is changing in appearance
- Decreased appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Slow-healing wound, or one that hasn’t healed at all even after a significant period of time
- Coughing or respiratory distress
These symptoms are quite general and could explain other health problems, not necessarily pet cancer. Because of this, it is critical to have your pet checked out.
Diagnostic testing is part of solving the puzzle. We take a pet’s full medical history into account and compare current readings with previous values. A recent list of behaviors and physical symptoms can lead to any of the following diagnostics:
- Blood work
- Digital radiographs
- Advanced imaging, such as CT scans or MRIs)
- Specialized molecular tests
Depending on our findings, your pet may have treatment options, such as radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or surgery to battle pet cancer.
Is Prevention Possible?
Unfortunately, pet cancer isn’t fully understood yet. This can make prevention seem impossible, but we do know that the following tactics can help cancer from developing:
- Maintain regular wellness exams
- Provide a balanced, nutritious diet
- Keep your pet’s weight down
- Keep your pet’s indoor environment free of known carcinogens
- Don’t ignore any changes to your pet’s behavior or appearance
When you know your pet’s breed you can be on the lookout for any possible genetic predispositions. Some breeds may be more likely to face cancer, making early detection even more vital.