Pet cancer is on the rise—here’s what to look for
So you’re snuggled up to your furry best friend scratching the “kick button” and you feel it: a lump that wasn’t there before. It’s understandable to be concerned, because one in four dogs and one in five cats will develop cancer in their lifetime.
November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, which was created by the Animal Cancer Foundation to raise awareness of the prevalence, symptoms and treatments for cancer in our companion animals.
We think it’s very important that pet parents to be as educated as possible about pet cancer, especially when it comes to identifying those lumps and bumps your pets will inevitably get as they age. The types of lumps that may appear include:
- Lipomas—these are usually benign lumps made of fatty tissue, commonly found in older dogs
- Sebaceous cysts—blocked oil glands that look like a pimple
- Warts—caused by a virus and usually appear around the mouth and eyes
- Hematomas—a blood-filled blister that forms under the skin, common on a dog’s ears
- Injection site lumps – may be inflammatory, but may also develop into a cancerous sarcoma (especially in cats)
- Mast cell tumors—common skin cancer in dogs
- Insect bites – can lead to complications depending on the type of bite
Regardless of the kind of lump or bump you think your pet has, it’s never safe to assume it’s harmless. Be sure to get it checked by a vet as soon as possible. Before your appointment you may want to jot down the answers to these questions, which will help your pet’s doctor make a diagnosis.
- Has the lump or bump appeared suddenly or has it been there a while?
- Has the bump or lump stayed the same consistency or had the same appearance or has it recently changed?
- Does the lump seem to separate from the underlying tissue or does it seem fixed in place?
- Is there only one lump that you have found recently or are there multiple bumps?
- Finally, has your dog had any changes in behavior such as loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or a dramatic change in overall attitude?
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.
And remember: if your animal companion is diagnosed with cancer, it’s not necessarily a death sentence! These days, many cancers are treatable with the same methods we use for humans.
If you have questions about pet cancer or your pet has a lump or bump that could use checking, reach out to us at 503-446-2450.