November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, which makes it a good time to learn more about this kind of illness. This month-long event is held in order to raise awareness of pet cancer, such as making sure pet parents know what symptoms to watch for and how common pet cancer is. Since cancer is among the top disease-related causes of death in pets, it’s important for pet parents to keep the following information in mind.
Pet Cancer by the Numbers
How many pets end up with cancer? Some pets develop tumors or neoplasms, which can be malignant or benign. Benign tumors are not cancerous, while malignant tumors are cancerous. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), roughly one in four dogs develop tumors at some point in their life. Some of these tumors are benign, while others are malignant. In dogs that are 10 years old and up, nearly half end up developing cancer. According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, around 6 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in dogs each year in the U.S. This number is similar for cats as well.
Symptoms of Pet Cancer
Cancer in pets can affect different parts of the body, such as the bladder, brain, liver, bones or spinal cord. The kinds of symptoms that occur can differ depending on which organ or part of the body is affected. However, there are some common symptoms that can occur with pet cancer. Some of these include the following:
- Rapid and unexplained weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Trouble breathing or other respiratory changes
- Frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting
- Wounds that do not heal
- Bumps or lumps
- Skin discoloration
- Unexplained swelling
- Trouble eating
- Bleeding from the nose or other openings in the body
- Lack of energy
What to Do About Pet Cancer Symptoms
If you notice any possible symptoms of cancer in your pets, you should bring them to your vet for an exam as soon as possible. Your vet can check your pets for other signs of cancer and perform diagnostic tests. Keep in mind that other health conditions can cause symptoms that are similar to cancer symptoms, so it’s important to have your pets examined and receive an accurate diagnosis. If cancer is found, your vet can discuss treatment options with you.
What to Do During National Pet Cancer Awareness Month
You can help raise awareness of pet cancer during November by sharing information on this type of illness and encouraging others to have their pets examined if they notice any symptoms. This is also a good time to remind fellow pet parents about the importance of routine wellness exams for pets, so that vets can find possible signs of cancer earlier rather than later.