Cancer occurs when cells grow without control. Any type of cell in your pet’s body can begin uncontrolled growth, including cells in bones, muscles, skin, liver, and spleen. Over time, cancerous cells develop a mass that absorbs vital nutrients, presses against surrounding tissues, and eventually causes death.
Fortunately, your pet’s immune system is ideally suited to remove cells when they begin to grow without control. Your pet’s immune system is also responsible for controlling bacteria and viruses to prevent infection. It’s when the immune system fails, that cancer and infections develop. The best way to help your pet never develop cancer or infection is to boost its immune system.
After ten years of age, cancer kills 50% of dogs. In younger dogs, cancer kills about 33%.
About 33% of cats die of cancer.
Yes. Half a century ago, less than 1 pet in a thousand developed cancer.
We don’t know what causes cancer, but we do know that the tendency to develop cancer is inherited in some pets. An inherited tendency and exposure to some of the following increase the likelihood pets will develop cancer: poor diet, radiation, viruses, vaccinations, lawn chemicals, flea and tick dips, asbestos, and tobacco smoke.
Metastatic cancer cells travel throughout the body and may cause tumors in any tissue, including the lymph nodes, lungs, brain, and bones. To reach distant sites, tiny islets of cancer cells travel through the blood or lymph channels. Although cancer can become established in places far from where it originated, the cancerous cells maintain their original characteristics. Thus, if veterinarians remove cells from the brain or lungs, they will be able to identify these cells as having originated in another area, such as the kidney.
Physical exams, x-rays, blood tests, tissue biopsy samples, CT scans, and MRIs help to diagnose cancer. To reach a definitive diagnosis of cancer, cells are examined under a microscope by a pathologist who studies the DNA and other intracellular materials.
Visiting the veterinarian twice a year increases the likelihood that if your pet has cancer it will be identified early. The earlier a cancer is identified, the smaller it is, and the easier it is to treat.
Research has shown that pets eating high concentrations of carbohydrates from wheat, corn, or sugar may be promoting cancer cell growth, while pets eating kibble with fish, broccoli, and flax oil may be promoting the health of their immune cells that fight cancer. Diets that contain antioxidants such as blueberries also help promote immune health.
Veterinary researchers recommend kibble with low carbohydrate, high Omega 3 fatty acids, and increased arginine. They also recommend feeding small, frequent meals that are warmed to stimulate the pet’s sense of smell.
Connective and supportive tissues, including bones, cartilage, blood, and muscle develop cancers called sarcomas. Examples of sarcomas are osteosarcoma involving the bones, perihemangiosarcoma involving the blood vessels, and chondrosarcoma involving cartilage.
Cancers are graded according to how serious a threat they appear. The more serious the cancer is, the higher the grade. The factors that give the cancer a higher grade are related to how quickly it is growing and dividing, which can be determined by examining it with a microscope. Actively growing cancers generally have these characteristics: more than one nucleus in each cell, DNA lined up in strands of chromatin, and more than one nucleosome.
Overall, fewer cats than dogs develop cancer. Some cancers, though, are more common in cats, and when they occur are more likely to be fatal. For example, cats are 6 times more likely than dogs to develop cancer of the blood cells called lymphoma. Cats are also more likely to die from breast cancer (mammary carcinoma) than are dogs, but cats are less likely to develop breast cancer in the first place. Cats can develop cancers in their tissues where they are vaccinated, called sarcomas, but dogs do not appear to develop these vaccine-induced cancers.
Some cancers are less common and less fatal in cats than in dogs. For example, cats are less likely to develop bone cancer (osteosarcoma), and they live longer than dogs if they do develop it. Cats are also less likely to develop mast cell tumors, which are the most common type of skin cancer that dogs develop.
Cats with cancer cannot be given all the same chemotherapy medications that dogs can be given. For example, Cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil are fatal in cats, but are frequently used in dogs.
Manx, Siamese, and Burmese cats appear to develop cancer more frequently than other breeds.
Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Poodles, Boxers, Rottweilers, and Shelties develop cancer more frequently than other breeds.
|This information is for educational purposes only and is intended to be a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise and professional judgment of your veterinarian. The information is NOT to be used for diagnosis or treatment of your pet. You should always consult your own veterinarian for specific advice concerning the treatment of your pet.
The information about medications is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, allergic reactions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for your pet. It is not a substitute for a veterinary exam, and it does not replace the need for services provided by your veterinarian.
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