May Is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

May is Pet Cancer Awareness week.  Cancer is the leading cause of death in cats and dogs. knowing the symptoms can help you and your vet diagnose and treat your pet sooner. I lost a pet Chihuahua over 30 years ago due to cancer.  Cancer treatments were not as advanced and sophisticated as they are today for our pet companions.  Surgery was usually the only option with no treatment follow-up available.  Cancer treatment has evolved to the degree that your pet’s condition may be resolved or well-managed with surgery, radiation, medication, or other remedies.

Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center, based out of Fort Collins, CO, is renowned for its oncology department. Here are some clues from CSU on signs to watch for.  While no one sign purely indicates cancer, a cat or dog displaying two or more of these symptoms should be taken to the veterinarian for an exam so that he or she can be properly diagnosed and treated accordingly. As with any disease, the sooner you or your veterinarian pick it up, the sooner you can diagnose and treat it and the better the potential prognosis. Don’t make the mistake of missing some subtle signs of your pet’s illness.

  1. Abnormal swelling that persists or continue to grow
  2. Sores that do not heal
  3. Weight loss
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Bleeding or discharge from any orifice  of  the body
  6. Offensive odor (which may be due to a tumor in the nose, mouth, or rectal area)
  7. Difficulty eating or swallowing
  8. Exercise intolerance, hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
  9. Persistent lameness (which may be due to bone, nerve or muscle cancer)
  10. Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating

While no one sign purely indicates cancer, a cat or dog displaying two or more of these symptoms should be taken to the veterinarian for an exam so that he or she can be properly diagnosed and treated accordingly. As with any disease, the sooner you or your veterinarian pick it up, the sooner you can diagnose and treat it and the better the potential prognosis. Don’t make the mistake of missing some subtle signs of your pet’s illness. When in doubt, as your pet ages, talk to your veterinarian about skipping the vaccines. Instead, I recommend doing geriatric blood work, X-rays or even ultrasound to diagnose problems sooner.

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