My pals, I want to introduce you to my new friend Dr. Ruth MacPete. Dr. Ruth, “the Pet Vet”, has appeared on TV shows like “The Doctors” and on the TV news programs throughout the country educating pet parents about important pet issues. Plus, she has written for Cat Fancy, Bark, and Kittens USA. What I really like about Dr. Ruth is that she really gets it that many of the sheter animals problems stems from the lack of knowledge of pet issues by the public. So Dr. MacPete began writing and appearing on television to get the word out.
Recently, I visited Purdue and participated in a Urinary Bladder Cancer study. To catch up go here Purdue’s Comparative Oncology Program Research Trial. So today Dr. Ruth is going to share with us what our humans should be aware of and watch for in canine cancer. Take it away my pal Dr. Ruth!
Canine Caner Awareness
Guest Post By Dr. Ruth MacPete
Many people don’t realize that cancer is one of the leading causes of death in older animals. Like their human companions, animals can develop different types of cancers. Fortunately, many cancers can be treated, especially when detected early. Do you know how to look for cancer in your pets? What can you do to give your pets a fighting chance to beat cancer?
In order to increase your odds of detecting cancer in your pets early, you should become familiar with the signs and symptoms of cancer. Be alert and watch for any changes in your pet. Some of the things to watch for are unexplained weight loss, trouble eating, decreased activity level, coughing or breathing problems, abnormal bleeding, lameness or limping, and the appearance of any skin growths or lumps and bumps. It is important to realize that these are only some of the most common signs and symptoms of cancer. These signs and symptoms are not specific to cancer and may be seen in other diseases. The key is to be observant and notify your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms or have other health concerns.
Unfortunately, no matter how vigilant we are, our pets may be asymptomatic in the early stages of cancer. To improve the chances of early detection, you should take your pet to the vet regularly. Your vet will do a complete examination checking your pet from head to tail looking for abnormal skin growths (lumps and bumps), enlarged organs or masses in your pet’s abdomen (belly), abnormal heart or lung sounds, and abnormalities in their eyes, ears and mouth. These exams are important because veterinarians can discover things that you may never notice. For instance, how often do you open your pet’s mouth and look inside? Sadly most people don’t do this and oral cancers are common in pets. When oral cancers become symptomatic and animals stop eating or drool excessively, it may be too late because the tumor is too big to treat. Remember the goal and the best way to improve your pets odds of beating cancer is early detection. Regular examinations are one of the best ways to do this. Personally I recommend animals over 6 years of age be seen twice a year.
Not all cancers will be detected on physical examinations though. Screening tests like routine blood work, urinalysis and x-rays are another great way to uncover cancer early. Depending on the age, sex and breed of your pet your veterinarian may recommend one or all of these tests to help look for cancer.
Remember early detection and treatment is the best way to improve your pet’s prognosis. So make sure your pet gets regular check-ups, take advantage of recommended screening tests, and be familiar and on the look out for the common signs and symptoms of cancer in pets. If you want to know more about cancer, speak with veterinarian and visit the Veterinary Cancer Society website (www.vetcancersociety.org) or Animal Cancer Foundation website (www.acfoundation.org).