- What is cancer?
- Cancer is an abnormal, uncontrolled growth of body cells, which may stay in one place, expand indifferently or even spread throughout the whole body (metastases).
- How can I tell if my pet has cancer?
Depending on cancer type, location and stage, clinical signs may be:
- Masses and nodules
- Behavioral changes
- Non-healing wounds
- Weight loss, loss of appetite, bleedings or discharges from a body orifice
- Bloody vomiting, lasting longer than a few days
- Unilateral nose bleeding
- Difficulty swallowing or eating
- Decreased motillity or loss of energy
- Long lasting lameness
- Difficulty breathing or coughing
- Dfficulty urinating, black stool or diarrhea
- Halitosis, bad breath, bleeding from mouth
- Are all tumors of cats and dogs malignant?
No. As in humans, many different cancer types are known. Some are benign, this means they do not penetrate into the surrounding tissues and don't spread to other body parts, others are malignant, behave aggressively, penetrate into surrounding tissues and form metastases in other body regions. We see in dogs and cats the same cancer types as in humans, however with different frequencies: for example, large breed dogs suffer from bone cancer ten times more than humans.
- How often does cancer occur in pets?
Dogs suffer from cancer about twice as likely as humans. Almost the half of all dogs older than 10 die from cancer or from cancer's consequences. Cats get cancer about half as likely as humans, but unfortunately their tumors are more often malignant.
- Is cancer a disease of old animals?
Old age itself is not a cause of cancer. In older animals, however, the regulatory mechanisms that eliminate altered cells from the body (e.g., tumor cells) are decreased. For this reason we can say that old age is an importand predisposing factor for cancer. There are yet some cancer forms which are rather seen in young animals, e.g. lymphomas or osteosarcomas.
- Do certain breeds more frequently get cancer?
Some cancerous diseases are more frequent in certain breeds, but no prediction can be made for individual animals. For example, Bernese Mountain dogs are predisposed to malignant histiocytosis, a highly aggressive systemic cancer form. Giant breeds suffer more frequently from bone cancer than medium or small sized breeds. Flat Coated Retrievers are known for their histiocytoic sarcoma, which is a cancer form similar to malignant histiocytosis. Scottsh Terrier have often bladder cancer and Siamese cats succumb frequently to lymphoma. Those are only some examples of breed predispositions. We can advise you individually for your specific case, or you can ask for more detailed information from your Vet.
- Are there other predisposing factors?
Other peculiarities may (but don't necessarily) play a role in cancer genesis. For example, not neutered bitches suffer from mammary tumors more often than neutered bitches, whereas neutered male dogs suffer from prostate carcinoma more often than not neutered male dogs. White cats get squamous cell carcinoma more often than cats with pigmented skin.
- Are animals in smoker's households more likely to develop cancer?
In smoker's households, the nasal and buccal mucosa and the lungs of our pets are more endangered, exactly as happens in humans. However, to blame a smoker for the cancerous disease of his pet would be going too far.
- Can I prevent cancer from occurring in my animal?
Unfortunately no! As in humans, cancer in pets is a multifactorial disease and cannot be predicted or avoided. Treat your animal normally and enjoy your time with it. If you discover a nodule or other abnormalities in your pet, consult with your Vet.
- How can I support the animal cancer research?
To promote the holistic therapy of pets suffering from cancer, a foundation based in Zug was established in 2007. Its goals are to offer a veterinary oncological service of highest quality, to promote the training and specialization of young veterinarians, and to support the research in these particular fields. You can find more information on this Web page: www.vetmedstiftung.ch