Cancer is a disease that can have devastating effects on the length and quality of life, not only in people but also in companion animals. It even develops more rapidly in dogs than in humans.
Pet owners are aware of this. There are studies showing that most owners consider this illness to be the worst cause of death for their animals.
Cancer is usually caused by genetic changes or cells mutations. There is a great variety of agents causing these changes, such as viruses, chemicals or radiation. The effects of many of these agents accumulate during the pet’s lifetime until the damage occurs. This may be the reason why many cancers appear in middle-aged or older animals.
Apart from these cancer-causing agents, there are also risk factors such as the animal’s age, as well as its sex, size and breed. Some breeds, such as Boxers or German Shepherds, are more predisposed to cancer.
Malignant tumours in dogs are more frequent in the skin, mammary glands, oral cavity and bones. Certain signs may help you to detect them, such as the appearance of lumps or scars, ulcers that do not heal, weight or appetite loss or difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating.
But what happens when your suspicion is confirmed? The goal of therapy is curing or causing the remission of the cancer; at the very least, improving the quality and length of your pet’s life. To achieve this, animal cancer is usually treated with surgery, chemotherapy, or both.
As in any illness, early detection aids in handling and curing it. This is very important in cancer, because the longer it takes to diagnose the worse your options will be or there will not be any options left. In the case of your pet it is even worse, because frequently the process is too advanced by the time you realize what is happening.
This is why it is recommended that you take your pet to your veterinary surgeon for a yearly check up, and that you are aware on a day-to-day basis of the possible appearance of signs that could make you suspect that there is a problem.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
Mendez Nuñez, 38 · 03002 Alicante
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