February 4 marks World Cancer Day – an international day dedicated to raising awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
Cancer can take a variety of different forms and occurs when some of our cells divide into the surrounding tissue. Our body produces new cells when our old cells become damaged or die.
When cancer develops this process is disrupted. When cells become more abnormal, old, or damaged and continue to survive, this encourages the growth of new cells even if they are not needed. The extra cell growth goes into surrounding tissue and will develop into the form of growth of tumours.
Like humans, our beloved pets can be affected by cancer in various stages of their life. Sadly, in Australia cancer will affect one in three dogs in their lifetime. With cancer taking many different forms including melanoma (skin cancer), osteosarcoma (bone cancer), lymphoma (cancer in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and bone marrow) to name a few types, there are a variety of different treatments. As pet owners, it is extremely important to keep a close eye on our pets and if any changes are noticed, get an expert opinion as fast as possible.
A few symptoms of cancer in dogs and cats may include:
- Abnormal swellings or growths that do not heal within a two-week period
- Quick and unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Challenges eating and swallowing
- Laboured breathing
- Difficulty urinating or defecating
- Stiffness in their joints paired with persistent lameness
- Pungent odour and bad breath
If you suspect that your pet may be experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, consult your veterinarian. If your pet does have cancer, your veterinarian will be able to determine what treatment would be most effective in helping your furry friend become cancer-free. Like humans, when cancer is detected early on, the chances of survival increase greatly.