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Cancer and Pets: It’s Not All Bad News

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Every pet owner dreads hearing the “C” word from their veterinarian. And unfortunately, it happens fairly frequently. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), approximately 1 in 4 dogs will, at some stage in their life, develop some form of neoplasia, uncontrolled cell growth that can be benign or malignant. Almost half of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer.

Studies have shown that Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Persian, Siamese, and Bengal cats are generally more likely to develop specific types of cancer than other breeds, but any dog or cat can develop cancer.

A diagnosis of cancer can feel overwhelming, frightening, and stressful. But it’s important to note that cancer is no longer a diagnosis without hope. With proper treatment, it’s even possible for some pets to achieve remission. The rapid advances that have been made in veterinary medicine mean that we now have very effective treatments available to us that can give your pet the best chance of extending their life – with a great quality of life.

Early Signs of Cancer

The earlier cancer can be detected in your pet, the more treatment options we have available to us, and the better the prognosis for your furry family member. As part of your wellness plan – and in honor of November being National Pet Cancer Awareness Month – we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the signs of cancer and make an appointment immediately if you notice any of them:
• Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating
• Lethargy, lack of energy, and reluctance to exercise
• Abnormal lumps, bumps, or swellings that persist or grow
• Loss of appetite and/or weight loss
• Difficulty eating or swallowing
• An offensive odor that does not go away with washing

Regular semi-annual exams with your veterinarian can also help catch abnormalities early. While there aren’t standard cancer screening tests for cats and dogs, like there are for humans, we do have diagnostic techniques that can flag or find potential cancers, such as:
• Bloodwork
• Radiographs
• Fine-needle aspirate of masses
• Urinalysis

Treatment of cancer is often tolerated by pets quite well, with minimal side effects. Treatment options at Westfield Veterinary Group include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and various palliative options – always with the overarching goal of achieving the highest possible quality of life for your pet. If you have questions about cancer or keeping your pet healthy for as long as possible, please contact us at (844) 937-4424.

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