All pets, regardless of size and breed, have some risk for developing cancer. However, there are certain breeds of dogs that have higher instances of the disease than others.
Certain breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Boxers and German shepherds are considered at-risk breeds and have a higher risk of getting cancer. According to the Veterinary Cancer Society, these breeds have an increased chance of getting cancer in their lifetime.
Of course, older dogs are more likely to develop diseases such as cancer than younger dogs. Just like in people, however, the earlier that cancer is detected, the greater chance there will be of achieving remission.
One goal of Pet Cancer Awareness Month is to inform pet owners of symptoms to look for in their pet. The Veterinary Cancer Society suggests checking your pet regularly for signs such as swollen lymph nodes, sudden weight loss, enlarged lumps, vomiting, diarrhea, and lameness. If your pet displays any of these warning signs, consult with your veterinarian as soon as you can.
If your veterinarian does find cancer, there are various treatment options for most types of the disease. Some are cured with surgery and others are managed with medications. Once you know which type you’re fighting, the various treatment options can then be discussed with your veterinarian.
Veterinarians stress that wellness checks every year or six months are key to cancer prevention. To ensure the cancer is detected in time, it is urged that pet owners take their pets to the veterinarian for regular check-ups and blood work. However, keep in mind that there is no universal “test for cancer.” Biopsies should be considered of any lumps greater than ½ inch in diameter or if cancer is suspected.
Learning that your beloved pet has cancer is never easy, but it is not necessarily fatal. Discovering it early on ensures a better chance of survival, less costly treatment and an increased quality of life. Although May is Pet Cancer Awareness month, spread the awareness of cancer’s prevalence amongst our four-legged friends all throughout the year, and be sure to check for signs both at home and discuss them during your regular visits to the veterinarian.