Detecting Cancer in Your Pets
Pain can sometimes be an indicator of cancer and should be I have a friend whose 8 year old Boxer was diagnosed with
cancer (I don’t know what kind). Tey said it was too far gone to do anything that would help. My dog is 8 years old as well. Is there anything I can look for to notice if my pet has a problem that could be cancer?
Cancer is the number one cause of death on both cats and
dogs. It has become a serious issue in veterinary medicine. Paying atention to your pet’s behavior can be instrumental in detecting a problem early.
Routinely check your pet for any lumps or bumps. Not every
lump is cancerous. Some lipomas (faty tumors that tend to be benign) will change size or shape and may appear and disappear over time. Lumps that continue to grow should be checked by the veterinarian. A fine needle aspirate in which cells are removed from the mass and examined under the microscope can sometimes be diagnostic. Biopsy of the mass will determine what type of tumor it is and if it is a benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Any discharge of blood, pus, vomit or diarrhea should be
evaluated by the veterinarian. Tere is a whole range of disease conditions that can manifest with one or more of these signs. Different cancers can sometimes cause various types of discharge. Tese signs do not have to mean cancer but they should be checked out by your veterinarian.
Odor is oſten a sign of internal disease. Any foul odor from
a body part or body orifice should be addressed as soon as it is noticed. Cancer of the oral cavity can frequently be odiferous and smell bad. Once again, bring your pet to the veterinarian so a complete physical examination and work-up, including blood work and urinalysis, can be performed.
If you pet’s eating habits change and they reduce their intake or
stop eating at all, they must be seen by the veterinarian. Tere are a number of reasons why a pet stops eating and it usually indicates that something is, in fact, going on. An obvious cancer that could affect appetite is cancer of the oral cavity. It is oſten painful for the pet to eat if there is cancer in the mouth. Tese cases also tend to have a bad odor.
Pets that stop eating also tend to lose weight rather quickly.
Again, there are many reasons why this occurs, most of them not good. Every animal that loses weight should see the veterinarian to determine the cause because cancer can also cause weight loss.
Dr. Rose DiLeva is a 1987 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s school of Veterinary Medicine. She practices alternative and conventional veterinary medicine. Dr. DiLeva is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and a certified veterinary chiropractitioner. She can be reached at her Animal Wellness Center in Chadds Ford, Pa. at 610-558-1616 for appointments and telephone consultations. Her web site is www.altpetdoc.com
(see Dr DiLeva on her web site for her interview with both ABC channel 6 and KYW channel 3) and www.drrosesremedies.com
October 2012 36
checked by your veterinarian. One type of cancer that always causes pain is bone cancer (osteosarcoma). Tese pets need to be on pain medication to help reduce their discomfort level.
On occasion your pet may have a wound that heals very slowly
or not at all. Non-healing wounds can be an indication of a skin infection, other infection or skin cancer. Non-healing wounds plus wounds with an odor should be checked by the veterinarian and evaluated. It is possible that a biopsy needs to be taken to assess the skin.
Many dogs and cats become lethargic and depressed when they
are ill. A variety of conditions can cause a pet to become lethargic. Frequently, pets with cancer tend to sleep more, become less active and develop depression. All of these animals need to be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine the cause.
Any change in urination or defecation paterns can also be an
indicator of disease. Pets that urinate more frequently, or pets that have blood in the urine or stool, need to be checked out. For example, blood in the urine could indicate a bladder infection (cystitis) but it could also indicate bladder stones (uroliths) or bladder cancer.
Animals that have difficulty breathing or animals that cough
more than normal need to be seen by a veterinarian. Once again, difficulty breathing could be an indicator of a condition like asthma or bronchitis. Tese same symptoms can also be an indicator of lung cancer.
As you can see, cancer can manifest itself in many forms depending
on the type and location of the cancer. I would recommend that all pets be seen and evaluated by a veterinarian if any of the above symptoms are seen. Te veterinarian can run a batery of tests and determine the problem and treat accordingly.
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