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National Pet Cancer Awareness Month

November 1, 2022

National Pet Cancer Awareness Month is in November, and as you may have guessed, pets can get cancer too. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death in older dogs and cats, so it’s especially important that we have the best resources available for the prevention and treatment of this disease.

In this post, a local vet talks about National Pet Cancer Awareness Month and things you can do to lower your pet’s risk of getting this disease.

National Pet Cancer Awareness Month – Fast Facts

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in humans. But did you know it’s also one of the biggest threats to animal welfare? In fact, pet cancer is a serious health concern for pet parents and their furry friends. Pet cancer is the leading cause of death in older dogs and cats—but it can strike younger animals as well.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 50 percent of all dogs over 10 years old will get cancer at some point during their lifetimes. That number increases to 60 percent for cats.

Here are some fast facts about pet cancer to ponder:

  • Female pets have higher rates of mammary and uterine cancers than males.
  • Some dog breeds are more prone to certain cancers than others (e.g., lymphoma in golden retrievers or boxers).
  • 1 in 4 dogs and 1 in 5 cats will develop cancer during their lifetime.
  • Oral tumors such as squamous cell carcinoma are on the rise in cats—and often appear more aggressive than similar tumors in dogs.
  • Male pets are at higher risk for certain cancers than female pets (e.g., osteosarcoma, testicular tumors).

Help Protect Your Beloved Animal Companions

There are more than a few things you can do to reduce the risk of cancer in your pet:

  • Feed them a diet free from preservatives, additives, and artificial colors/flavors. If you feed your dog or cat commercial food instead of home-prepared meals, read labels carefully! 
  • Spay or neuter your pet before they reach sexual maturity (usually around six months). This reduces their risk of developing testicular or ovarian tumors, which are common types of cancers in cats and dogs. 
  • Don’t smoke around animals! Secondhand smoke has been linked with many different types of cancer in humans as well as animals alike—including lung tumors in dogs and cats.” 
  • Reduce your pet’s risk by avoiding exposure to lawn chemicals, secondhand smoke, insecticides, sunscreen, harmful cleaning products, and toxic food items (such as grapes and raisins). 

Our Advice on National Pet Cancer Awareness Month in 2024

What is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, and why is it important?

National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, observed in November, is dedicated to raising awareness about pet cancer, including its prevalence, prevention, and treatment options. It’s important because cancer is the leading cause of death in older dogs and cats, but it can affect younger animals as well. This month encourages pet owners to learn about the signs of cancer, advances in veterinary oncology, and ways to reduce cancer risk. Awareness leads to early detection, which can significantly improve treatment outcomes and enhance the quality of life for cancer-pound pets.

How common is cancer in pets, and which pets are most at risk?

Cancer is a significant health issue in pets, with estimates indicating that 1 in 4 dogs and 1 in 5 cats will develop cancer during their lifetime. It is the leading cause of death in older dogs and cats but can also affect younger animals. Pets over ten years old, especially dogs, have a 50% risk of developing cancer, and this risk increases to 60% for cats. Certain breeds are more prone to specific cancers, such as lymphoma in Golden Retrievers and Boxers. Additionally, female pets have higher rates of mammary and uterine cancers, while males are at higher risk for osteosarcoma and testicular tumors.

How can pet owners reduce their pets’ risk of developing cancer?

Pet owners can reduce their pets’ risk of developing cancer by feeding them a balanced diet free from preservatives, additives, and artificial colors/flavors and carefully reading labels on commercial pet foods. Spaying or neutering pets before they reach sexual maturity significantly reduces the risk of reproductive cancers. Minimizing exposure to carcinogens is crucial; avoid secondhand smoke, lawn chemicals, harmful cleaning products, and toxic foods. Regular veterinary check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight for pets also play a vital role in cancer prevention, alongside providing a safe and clean living environment.

Why is spaying or neutering pets important in cancer prevention?

Spaying or neutering pets is crucial in cancer prevention because it significantly reduces the risk of developing reproductive cancers. In females, spaying before the first heat cycle dramatically lowers the risk of mammary cancer, the most common tumor in female dogs and cats. It eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers. In males, neutering prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate problems. Beyond cancer prevention, these procedures also contribute to better overall health and behavior, extending the quality and lifespan of pets.

How does secondhand smoke affect pets and their cancer risk?

Secondhand smoke significantly increases cancer risk in pets. Dogs exposed to secondhand smoke are more susceptible to nasal and lung cancers, particularly long-nosed breeds, which are at higher risk for nasal tumors. Cats living in smokers’ homes are more likely to develop malignant lymphoma and squamous cell carcinoma, a type of oral cancer, due to their grooming habits, which expose them to carcinogens from smoke residue on their fur. Continuous exposure to these harmful substances can compromise their respiratory health and elevate their overall risk of developing cancer.

If you have more questions or wish to schedule your pet for a checkup, please don’t hesitate to call us, your local vet in West Greenwich, RI anytime!

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