The mere mention of “cancer” often conjures thoughts of angst, fear, and grief. Unfortunately, at Bothell Pet Hospital, as in most veterinary clinics, we deal with cancer on a daily basis. It seems as though everyone knows someone who is fighting cancer, if not themselves; and it is no different in our dog and cat companions.
Whether because pets are living longer, diagnostics are more accessible, or environmental changes are contributing is debatable; but it seems that more and more pets are now being diagnosed with cancer.
While the diagnosis of cancer is one that every pet owner dreads, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of cancer in your pet. Spaying or neutering, weight management, exercise, good nutrition, and minimal exposure to known carcinogens have all been shown to help prevent cancer.
In addition, certain breeds are predisposed to developing specific types of cancer, such as osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in greyhounds; therefore, minimizing the risk of cancer in your pet may start with breed selection, or awareness/being alert if you already own a breed that is prone to a specific type of cancer.
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Knowing the Symptoms
Being familiar with the signs of disease can sometimes assist in an early diagnosis. Symptoms of cancer typically relate to the area of the body affected and can include the following:
• Abnormal swellings that persist or grow
• Difficulty eating
• Unexplained weight loss
• Loss of appetite
• Recurrent vomiting
• Persistent lameness
If you notice any of these signs, it is important to have your pet checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Early diagnosis often allows for greater treatment options and a better prognosis.
Identifying Appropriate Treatment
Cancer is one of the most common natural causes of death in cats and dogs. However, it is also more treatable than ever before. Fortunately, chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation are all available for dogs and cats in our area.
At Bothell Pet Hospital, we routinely refer owners to area cancer specialists and oncologists who can help owners navigate through the often emotional and difficult decision-making process. Even in situations where owners elect not to aggressively treat cancer, there are medications and other supportive treatments to minimize discomfort, improve well-being and ensure good quality of life.
If you have a question regarding cancer, do not hesitate to ask any of our veterinarians. We are here to provide you with knowledge, inform you of your options, and ultimately empower you to choose what is best for you and your beloved pet.