November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that animals get cancer just like people? It’s important to monitor your pet and get them checked by a veterinarian on an annual basis.
I was trying to come up with a picture for this blog and didn’t want to scare everybody off with some hideous picture of the Brazilian testicular mascot or some other gross tumor on an animal. Then the cancer ribbons came to mind. Well, they don’t have one for pets so I came up with an idea and my good friend Amy Hurley drew it. I think the American Cancer Society and the AVMA should adopt this as THE ribbon! What do you think?
This may surprise some of you, but animals get the same kinds of cancer that humans do. In fact, the most common cancer in dogs is lymphoma which is a cancer of the lymph nodes. Females, especially those not spayed, are more prone to developing breast cancer. The most common skin cancer in pets is called a mast cell tumor. Unfortunately, cancer rates in dogs are higher than that of humans. While pet cancer rates in cats are lower than that of humans. The incidence of cancer is much higher in purebred dogs. Golden Retrievers are one of the most common breeds in the United States and one out of five Golden Retrievers will die from hemangiosarcoma, which is a tumor of the spleen. One out of eight Golden Retrievers are diagnosed with lymphoma each year. This breed is so susceptible that the Morris Animal Foundation has set up The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study to help learn how to prevent cancer in this breed. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that pet cancer is the leading cause of death in 50% of animals over the age of 10.
The good news is that treatment similar to humans is available to treat our furry friends. The key is early detection! The early the tumor is detected the better chance your pet has at increasing its lifespan. Many tumors can be cured by surgical removal alone. To many people’s surprise, chemotherapy is available to treat your pet. Animals respond differently to chemotherapy than humans. They do not lose their hair and they typically do not get as sick as humans when given these drugs. The cost of pet cancer treatment is expensive but nowhere near the cost compared to treatment in humans. Check out this podcast by the AVMA for pet cancer treatment options available in pets.