Hope for Pets With Cancer
Many pet owners experience a sense of hopelessness when they hear the word cancer or tumor. While this is not a diagnosis any pet guardian wants to hear, cancer does not necessarily mean an end. Many tumors and masses are not malignant, while many of today’s treatments are better managed and tolerated. Spleen masses in dogs, for example, are only tumors 50% of the time, and better still, 75% are usually entirely of benign origin.
Even if a cure is not possible, today’s veterinary medicine can improve the quality of time a pet with cancer has remaining. Often, we are successful in prolonging and maintaining a good quality of life for our pet patients.
How We Can Help
Carlson Animal Hospital’s veterinarians will work diligently to secure a diagnosis and identify the most successful treatment plan for your pet. We work collaboratively with a team of veterinary oncologists (medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, and radiation oncologists) at Michigan State University (MSU). Exceptionally skilled in pet cancer care, our collaborative goal is to offer you and your pet state-of-the-art cancer management options. We consult nationally with researchers and specialists in the field of oncology and coordinate the care for your pet. You’ll benefit from their expertise, without having to drive or fly your pet long distances. However, if we determine that a visit or procedure is best performed at MSU or some other referral institution, we will make those arrangements on your behalf.
Is Cancer in Pets on the Rise?
Cancer in pets may seem more prevalent than in the past; however, it’s also a disease related to aging. Cancer is often seen in pets over 10 years of age. While it is more common in dogs, cats are also affected and feline cancer is often more aggressive.
More common pet cancers include:
- Lymphosarcoma or lymphoma
- Skin cancer (mast cell tumors, basal cell tumors, melanoma)
- Spleen cancer (hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, histiocytoma, and mast cell)
- Bone or joint cancer
- Hepatic (liver) cancer (many liver tumors may be benign)
- Oral (mouth) cancer
Some possible signs of cancer include:
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Progressive dry cough
- Skin becoming yellow in color (jaundice)
- Progressive loss of appetite and lethargy
- Lameness unresponsive to rest and medical management
- Persistent progressive vomiting/diarrhea
- Straining to urinate or blood in urine in the elderly pet
- New or fast growing masses
Cornell University offers a very informative multi-chapter video series, Pet Owner’s Guide to Cancer.
– Joanna Senter