It’s a scary statistic: the Animal Cancer Foundation (ACF) reports that 1 in 4 dogs and 1 in 5 cats will develop cancer in their lifetime. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death for dogs over the age of two.
November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, created by the ACF to raise awareness of the prevalence, symptoms, and treatments for cancer in our companion animals.
Just as with people, the longer your pet lives, the higher their risk of developing some form of the disease. The most common types of cancer in dogs include
lymphoma, mast cell tumors in skin, and osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Some of these cancers have subtle symptoms or may appear simply as an enlargement or lump that a pet owner might just attribute to aging. In many cases, those bumps may be a benign lipoma (fatty tumor), but it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
That’s why it’s important that pets have annual wellness checks—and for pets over seven, MVC recommends twice-yearly exams and blood testing. It’s especially crucial for cats, who are experts at hiding illness but often have more aggressive cancers than dogs.
Remember: Many types of pet cancers are treatable, but the earlier they’re caught, the better your pet’s chances of a good outcome.