One of the best ways to observe National Pet Cancer Awareness Month -- which is during the month of November -- is to take your pooch to the vet to be screened for cancer.
Unfortunately, canine cancer is relatively common. According to Dr. Aine Corridon, owner of Hendersonville Animal Hospital, “cats and dogs get cancer at about the same rate as humans.” She also noted that approximately “30 to 40 percent of our animals die from cancer.” Cancer symptoms in dogs can vary. For instance, if your pet has been consuming an excess of water or has “a decrease in appetite” that may indicate something is wrong. If that is the case, pup parents should immediately schedule a vet appointment, as there’s a chance that canine cancer can be cured if it’s caught early on.
“Sometimes if we can’t cure it we can give them medications that will increase their quality of life and lengthen the quality of their life until it is time to let them go,” said the veterinarian.
In a 2016 YouTube video, Dr. Michele Drake, DVM, noted even if your dog is not presenting unusual symptoms, you should still get them screened, especially if they are older or a larger breed. She shared that when dogs enter their senior years at “nine or 10,” most veterinarians will “have a look at their spleen and their lungs once a year.”
“That involves X-rays and doing an ultrasound of the spleen and just a general peek around the abdomen to look for signs of cancer basically,” explained Dr. Drake.
She then noted that vets will perform examinations for skin and oral cancer. The veterinarian went on to say that pet owners may notice that their older dogs have lumps on their bodies. She explained that while “many lumps are benign,” some may be malignant.
“The only way to find out if the lump is benign is by putting a needle inside of it, a tiny needle, getting some cells and then we have a look at it under the microscope to determine whether or not it's malignant or if it’s benign. If they’re benign, we just quite often leave them alone and just monitor them but if they are malignant we just recommend obviously taking them off,” shared Dr. Drake.
While speaking to Fox 4 Now in 2018, Veterinary Oncologist Dr. Gerald Post shared a few ways that may decrease your dog’s chances of cancer.
“Number one, keep your pet active and healthy, number two a good plane of nutrition is probably your pet's best friend. Three is to avoid things like second hand cigarettes smoke or certain pesticides or herbacrites,” said Dr. Post.