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November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Nov 17, 2015


November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Animal Cancer Foundation roughly 6 million new cancer diagnoses are made in dogs and a similar number made in cats each year. Nearly 50% of all disease-related deaths in dogs and cats are caused by cancer and it is the leading cause of disease-related deaths in older pets.

And while these statistics sound scary, a cancer diagnosis may NOT be a death sentence for your pet. Recent advances in veterinary medicine have increased the number and effectiveness of treatment options available. Additionally, unlike human medicine, treatment of cancer in pets has significantly fewer side effects. Pets are often able to accept treatments like chemotherapy and radiation well. This is especially true when cancer is detected early.

Early Signs 

Early detection is critical in the fight against pet cancer. If you notice your pet exhibiting any of the following signs, contact your primary care veterinarian right away.

  • Abnormal swellings (lumps and bumps) that persist or continue to grow
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Weight loss, or loss of appetite
  • Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • Offensive odor
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
  • Persistent lameness or stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

Learn how to check your dog for lumps and bumps at home.  

Top 10 Common Cancers

  1. Mast cell tumors
  2. Osteosarcoma or bone cancer
  3. Bladder cancer
  4. Hepatic or liver cancer
  5. Leukemia
  6. Lymphoma
  7. Mammary gland or breast cancer
  8. Prostate cancer
  9. Testicular cancer
  10. Melanoma, or skin cancer

To learn more about common cancers in dogs and cats, visit The Veterinary Cancer Center

Treatment Options

Treatment options for pet cancer may include one or a combination of the following:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
  • Immunotherapy

If your pet is suspected to have cancer, a veterinarian will run tests to diagnose the type and stage of cancer. Once the cancer is diagnosed, a treatment plan is recommended. Primary care veterinarians will work in collaboration with a board-certified specialist(s) throughout your pet’s treatment.

At The COVE, we may start treatment through surgical removal of the cancer. Whether your patient is referred to us by a primary care veterinarian  or comes through the emergency room after hours, our team of highly experienced ER clinicians along with our board-certified surgeon is equipped to perform surgery to remove cancerous (or suspected) tumors. If the patient requires additional treatment, we can provide referrals to a board-certified specialist in internal medicine for chemotherapy, and/or a board-certified oncologist for radiation or additional medical oncology, if needed. 

What you can do to reduce the risk of pet cancer

  • Schedule annual wellness checkups with your primary care veterinarian, and bi-annual checkups for older pets
  • Check for lumps and bumps on your pet’s body regularly. If you notice a lump, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Spay and neuter your pets to decrease the chance of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer.
  • Make sure your pets maintain a healthy weight.
  • Protect your pet from sunburns to prevent melanoma—especially for pets with short fur.
  • Reduce environmental risks like second-hand smoke, pesticides, cleansers with harsh chemicals, etc. 

Help #CurePetCancer

Nationwide is teaming up with Animal Care Foundation to help #CurePetCancer. Upload a photo of your furry friend  or share your pet cancer story to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #CurePetCancer, and Nationwide will donate $5 to the Animal Care Foundation! 


Check out the 12-minute AVMA podcast on “Cancer Treatment for Pets” to learn more about pet cancer. 

Share this blog post to help spread Pet Cancer Awareness!  

Category: Pet Health Tips