TW // Pet cancer awareness month – Cambridgeshire vets share the signs to look for
October 14, 2022
Trigger Warning – This article contains subject matter that some readers might find upsetting.
November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. In this article, our Cambridge surgical team explain the different types of pet cancers, and take a closer look at how passive smoking can harm pets in our downloadable guide.
Types of cat and dog cancers
Cancer affects large numbers of dogs and cats. It is expected that around half of dogs over the age of 10 are likely to develop cancer.
There are several types of canine and feline cancers including mast cell tumours, brain tumours, lymphoma, bladder cancer, mammary carcinoma, mouth and nose cancers, melanoma, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer.
Only a vet can diagnose cancer in pets, so it is important to keep up with regular health checks. A few facts about cancer in pets are listed below:
- Cancer mostly affects middle-aged and older pets but young pets can be affected too.
- Other health issues, such as obesity, can be a factor with some cancers.
- Passive smoking can increase the risk of certain types of cancer – for example nasal and lung cancers in dogs and blood cancer, lymphoma and mouth cancer in cats.
- Unneutered female cats and dogs can be at risk of uterine or ovarian cancer, and carry a higher risk of mammary tumours (or breast cancer, which can also affect male pets).
- Unneutered male cats and dogs can be at risk of testicular cancer and prostate cancer.
- Some dog breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Boxers, Beagles, and Great Danes, are more susceptible to certain cancers.
Spotting canine and feline cancer can be difficult and will depend on many factors. According to Vet Patrick von Heimendahl, the most common symptoms are:
- Abnormal odours coming from the mouth, ears, or any other body parts
- Abnormal discharge from the eyes, mouth, ears, or rectum
- Abdominal swelling
- Appetite loss
- Unexplained bleeding
- Change in appetite
- Changes in toileting habits – typically difficulty passing urine
- Chronic vomiting or diarrhoea
- Persistent coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Ongoing digestive problems
- Lumps and bumps underneath your dog’s skin that are getting bigger
- Limping / lameness
- Pain (shown by agitation, yelping, growling/snapping, sensitivity when touched, reduced activity, hiding, limping, depression, lack of appetite or breathing difficulties)
- Sudden weight loss and failure to regain weight
- Swollen lymph nodes (throughout the body, though most easily detectable behind the jaw and knees)
- Wounds or sores that won’t heal
When treating cancer in dogs or cats, different factors will influence the treatment options such as age, overall health of the pet and the type and stage of cancer. Cancer therapies for pets are similar to human treatments – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and in some cases holistic & herbal therapies.
However, Patrick advises that it is important to understand that not all pets can cope with or will respond to treatment, and that the long-term prognosis and quality of life your pet can expect during and after any treatment may vary greatly. If a diagnosis is made, our experienced vets will discuss these considerations with you and if your pet requires a specialist referral, we can arrange that too.
We hope the above information is helpful. At Clarendon Street Vets in Cambridgeshire, we are here to support you and your pet every step of the way. If you have any concerns, contact us for advice.