Cancer is the leading cause of death in 47% of dogs (especially those over ten years old) and 32% of cats, according to the Veterinary Cancer Society. Cancer is a devastating diagnosis for you and your animal companion. But the early discovery of the symptoms can make a big difference between life and death for your pet. As a pet owner, what can you do to detect the warning signs?
Keep reading to learn more.
What should you do to prevent cancer in pets?
Below are some pointers to help keep your pet healthy and cancer-free:
1. Schedule Regular Wellness Exams
Regular cat and dog wellness exams are necessary to identify cancer early. At these visits, your vet will examine your pet for any lumps or bumps that may be of concern. They may also use blood work to check for organ function and additional indications of illness. Plus, they can recommend how to help keep your pet healthy as well as safe from diseases like cancer.
2. Stay Up-To-Date With Vaccinations
Vaccines help protect your pets from dangerous viruses and bacteria that can increase their cancer risk. Keep your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date to minimize their potential exposure to carcinogens. An anti-cancer vaccine for dogs was introduced just recently, so ask your vet about this option or you can read more information online.
3. Feed Your Pet High-Quality Food
High-quality pet food can provide essential nutrients for your pet’s overall health and reduce its risk of developing cancer or other illnesses. Speak with your veterinarian about what type of food is best for your pet.
Here’s a checklist of foods you can include in your pet’s diet to boost their immune system and help prevent cancer:
- Sweet potatoes
- Coconut oil
- Fish and fish oil
- Pitted fruits, like peaches and plums
- Dark berries, such as blackberries and blueberries
4. Stay Active
Physical exercise helps keep your pet’s body performing properly and avoids being overweight, a well-known risk factor for animal cancer. Establish an exercise strategy that works for you and your pet. Opt for strolls, play fetch games in the backyard, or take up agility training. Keep them fun for both of you no matter what activities you choose.
5. Take Precautions at Home
You can create an environment in your home which contributes to cancer prevention, including:
- Minimizing direct exposure to chemicals found in cleaners and other household items
- Limiting sun exposure by keeping pets out of direct sunlight or applying sunblock to areas not covered with fur
- Avoiding cigarette smoking around pets
- Keeping pets far away from second-hand smoke as much as possible
- Washing hands after playing outdoors with your pet or handling their food or waste
- Regularly cleaning carpets and furniture where your pet usually rests
6. Be Aware of Changes In Behavior
Pets with cancer often show changes in behavior that indicate something is wrong. If your pet appears listless, withdrawn in play, or has stopped eating and drinking, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. These signs and symptoms can also indicate other severe illnesses, so it’s always best to take them to a professional.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Pet Cancer
If your pet suddenly starts to show any of the following conditions, call your vet as soon as possible:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite or changes in eating habits
- Growths or lumps on the body that grow quickly
- Abnormal bleeding or discharge
- Difficulty breathing and/or coughing
- Lameness, limping, or difficulty walking
- Sweating when not hot in the surrounding
What should you do if cancer is detected in your pet?
If cancer is detected in your pet, your veterinarian will create a treatment plan customized to their certain needs. This may include medicines, dietary changes, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery or veterinary laser therapy. Depending on the nature and stage of the illness, some pets can recover completely, while others require continuous care.
The journey is hard, but your pet can survive this challenging time with the appropriate assistance and care. Regardless of the result, working closely with your veterinarian is essential so you can give the best possible cancer care for pets. Remember that they will be your partner in the fight, so follow their recommendations and ask questions regarding the treatment process.
Ultimately, pick a vet facility or hospital with experienced professionals to ensure your pet gets the most reliable care. Trusted professionals can give you all the help you need to fight cancer.
Cancer can be a difficult diagnosis to deal with, but it doesn’t have to mean turning away from hope. You can provide your pet the best odds at fighting this disease with proper care, support, and understanding.
By staying up to date with their shots, feeding them high-quality food, exercising on a regular basis, and recognizing changes in behavior, you can reduce their risk of developing cancer. If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, contact an experienced vet immediately for a treatment plan that will work best for your pet.