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National Pet Cancer Awareness Month

November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Over 6 million cancer diagnoses are made every year – that’s 1 in 4 dogs and 1 in 5 cats. The Veterinary Cancer Center reports that nearly 50% of all disease-related deaths in pets are due to cancer, and it’s the #1 leading cause of disease-related death in older dogs and cats.

It’s devastating when our pet is diagnosed with cancer, but it is NOT a death sentence. Unlike human medicine, treatment of cancer in pets has considerably less side effects. In fact, pets are often able to accept treatments like chemotherapy and radiation well.

Signs and symptoms of pet cancer

Like most diseases, the earlier we can detect and treat cancer the better chances of a positive outcome. Veterinary oncologist, Gerald Post, DVM, MEM, DACVIM (Oncology), of the Veterinary Cancer Center talks about the ten warning signs of pet cancer.

To read more about the common signs mentioned by Dr. Post, please visit petcancerawareness.org.

Top 10 common pet cancers
  • Mast cell tumors
  • Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Hepatic or liver cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Mammary or breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Melanoma, or skin cancer

For more information on common types of cancer, visit the National Veterinary Cancer Registry.

Just as in human medicine, each case of cancer is different and must be handled individually. If your pet is suspected to have cancer, a veterinarian will run tests to diagnose the type and stage of cancer. At VSEC, we often diagnose pets that were referred to us by a primary care veterinarian or have come through the emergency room.

Some ways we diagnose pet cancer are through:
  • Ultrasounds
  • Radiographs
  • CT and endoscopy
  • Biopsy
  • Cytology

Once the cancer is diagnosed, we can recommend a treatment plan. Our team of board-certified specialists in internal medicine or surgery will treat the patient with chemotherapy and/or oncologic surgery. We can also provide referrals to a board-certified oncologist for radiation or additional medical oncology, if needed.

Treatment options

Treatment options for pet cancer may include one or a combination of the following:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
  • Immunotherapy
Reduce the risk of cancer in your pet

Here are some of the ways you can reduce the risk of cancer in your furry friend:

  • Schedule annual wellness checkups with your primary care veterinarian, and twice-yearly checkups if your pet is older.
  • Check for lumps and bumps on your pet’s body regularly. If you notice a lump, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Spay and neuter your pets. This can decrease the chance of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer.
  • Maintain a healthy weight in your pet.
  • Protect your pet from sunburns to prevent melanoma—especially for pets with short fur.
  • Reduce environmental risks like second-hand smoke, pesticides, cleansers with harsh chemicals, etc.   

Spread Pet Cancer Awareness

Share Nationwide’s infographic about pet cancer with friends and family!

Pet Cancer Facts and Figures

Click to download a hi-res PDF of this poster.

We’re here to help.

Consultations with one of our specialists are available with referral from your family veterinarian and by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call us at (805) 492-2436.

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