It’s a scary statistic: The Animal Cancer Foundation (ACF) reports that one in four dogs and one in five cats will develop cancer in their lifetime—in fact, it’s the leading cause of death for dogs over the age of two. During November at Shinnecock Animal Hospital, we observe Pet Cancer Awareness Month, which was created by the ACF to raise awareness of the prevalence, symptoms and treatments for cancer in our companion animals.
As veterinarians, it is our sworn oath to protect and heal pets. Therefore, we’ve compiled a helpful list of things that you should be aware of regarding cancer and your pet. Here are five things to be mindful of during Pet Cancer Awareness month:
• Did you know that pets can get health insurance, too? Many plans have cancer coverage nowadays, which not only provides you with peace-of-mind, but also helps you make health decisions for your pet that are easier on your wallet.
• If you’re a smoker, be careful, because cancer from second-hand smoke affects pets as well as humans. Make sure that next time you do decide to light up, you’re away from your best friend, to prevent them from inhaling those cancerous fumes.
• Routine wellness care is extremely important in detecting cancer early. These yearly (or twice-yearly for seniors) visits to the vet help detect unusual lumps and bumps, appetite or behavioral changes or odd-smelling breath—which are all early warning signs of cancer.
• Pay attention to your pet’s exposure to certain cancer-causing toxins. Pets often lick their paws, and when they do this they could be ingesting dangerous things like household cleaners or lawn pesticides.
• Every pet will have a different response to cancer. If your animal companion does get diagnosed, all is not lost! Many cancers are treatable—a board-certified oncologist will explain the type, stage and grade of your pet’s disease and will provide a prognosis.
Please do share these tips with other pet owners or on any of your social media networks. We encourage you to ask us any and all questions related to pet cancer. With your help, we can spread awareness of this disease and how it affects our pets!