May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

The Columbus (OH) Dispatch featured a “First Person” article by a Marie Long (Sat. May 24, 2008). In the article Ms. Long wrote about going to a garage sale three years ago and finding a blue-eyed dog in the front yard. It’s owner was moving the next day, to live with a relative (due to illness) and a home had to be found. Returning later and still finding the dog there, Ms. Long adopted her. The dog, Skye, was taken to a vet to be spayed* and the doctor “discovered a mass during the examination.” Skye had a partial mastectomy.

Even though I have just published a book on breast cancer, written by nurse and cancer survivor Alice Krumm (entitled “I didn’t ask for this pink ribbon”), and even though I did a lot of reading and research for “Open Your Heart with Pets”, the book… I didn’t know that dogs could get breast cancer. Or, I hadn’t really been aware of it or thought about it. According to PetCancerAwareness.org I’m not alone. Eighty percent of pet parents know little or nothing about pet cancer.
Yet canine and feline cancer is the #1 health problem for pets, and, just like in humans, cancer can occur in any part of a dog’s body. An estimated 40% of dogs die of cancer (source Veterinary Cancer Society).

The website also offers a “Tell Your Story” webpage, similar to the Rainbow Bridge, where you can post a photo of your pet and write about their cancer story. You can read the story of “Blue” the inspiration behind the founding of The Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research, which maintains the website.

The Veterinary Cancer Society** notes the following warning signs:

Abnormal swelling that persists
Sores that do not heal
Loss of weight
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

If your pet has any of these early warning signs, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible for a complete examination.

The Vet Cancer Registry has a helpful list of organizations and veterinaries specializing in animal cancer.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers a brochure “What Your Should Know about Cancer in Animals.”

More information on cancer in dogs and cats, along with helpful photographs, can be found at this link.
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*The AVMA states “Spaying your female pet between 6 and 12 months of age will greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer.”

**Of interest to Seattle readers: “The doctors and staff of Animal Cancer Specialists in Seattle, Washington are honored to be hosting the Veterinary Cancer Society’s 28th Annual Conference, ‘Reigning in Education.’ “October 18-21st, 2008.

Posted by Janice Williams Janice Williams at May 28, 2008 7:31 a.m.
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