Cancer affects all of us in one way or another, even our lovable mutts. That is why the month of May is dedicated to Pet Cancer Awareness and educating owners on the leading cause of death in pets, cancer. The goal of this month is to let pet owners know what the symptoms of cancer are and how early detections is key in beating this deadly disease.
Dr. Heather Wilson-Robles, assistant professor for Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) said cancer accounts for nearly 50 percent of all disease-related pet deaths each year.
“50 percent of all dogs over the age of 10 will die from cancer, and 25 percent of all dogs get cancer,” Wilson-Robles said.
Breeds such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Golden Retrievers are considered to have a higher risk of getting cancer. Wilson-Robles said these breeds can have up to a 70-80 percent chance of getting cancer in their lifetime.
Wilson-Robles stressed that wellness checks every year or six months are key to cancer prevention. “Sometimes, in many cases, by the time [the animals] are already effected and sick it may be too late [for treatment],” Wilson-Robles said. To ensure the cancer is detected in time, she urged pet owners to take a dog to the veterinarian if cancer is suspected and let them do blood work and biopsies.
Wilson-Robles recommended a few tips that may help reduce the risk of cancer. She said that, as with humans, cancer in dogs has been tied with obesity. For this, she suggested keeping dogs fit. She added to avoid chemicals such as yard sprays and limit the UV exposure of dogs and cats with light-colored skin by using sunscreen, UV shields on windows or T-shirts.
By being educated on this disease and regular wellness checks, we can help our four-legged friends fight against cancer!