Information About Pets with Cancer

Cancer is not a recent disease. Doctors have investigated this terrible disease in humans for more than 2,000 years. In animals, new studies have been conducted, often based on what has been learned about cancer in humans.
Information About Pets with Cancer

Last update: 05 July, 2021

Many veterinarians and pet owners have observed that animals develop cancer more often during the later stages of their life. Scientists still don’t understand the exact relationship between old age and the development of the disease. However, some researchers have speculated that age tends to weaken the immune system. In today’s article we have some important advice regarding pets with cancer.

Based on research in humans and animals, we know that cancer is a complex process that can be triggered by hereditary, environmental, and nutritional factors.

Causes of cancer in pets

two dogs

It is not yet known what causes cancer in pets. But, according to studies, it can be intuited that it originates from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are also predispositions in some breeds for the appearance of certain types of tumors.

Most of the genetic alterations that lead to cancer occur due to spontaneous mutations, which can originate as a result of chronic exposure to known carcinogens, such as sunlight or chemicals.

Regarding the diagnosis, cancer in pets is determined through a biopsy, which consists of removing small fragments of tumor tissue. Examining the biopsies allows veterinarians to determine the type of cells involved, whether the growth is benign or malignant, and what might be the best treatment to follow.

There are different types of tumors. In benign tumors, a fibrous capsule usually relatively covers the tumor cells. Some common benign tumors in dogs, for example, can be lipomas or fatty tumors, which form under the skin, and papillomas.

These are shaped like cauliflowers and found within the epidermis. Under the microscope, the cells in these tumors look very much like normal tissue. However, the boundaries of these tumors are usually regular, making them easy to remove surgically.

In cats, tumors occur when they’re relatively young and can be generally preventable. However, they tend to be much more concerning. Vets usually treat them with a surgical intervention. There is varying success, because the tumors tend to be very aggressive and remove much of the tissue that surrounds the tumor.

Surgery is only successful if surgeons remove or destroy the tumor cells, and this is difficult to do. The larger the mass and the length of time it has been there, the less likely the intervention is to be successful. Up to 70% of these tumors grow back after surgery. The chances of survival increase if the animal, after the intervention, undergoes radiotherapy treatment.

Chemotherapy treatment

sick cat

Approximately 25% of all animals receiving chemotherapy experience some type of side effect, usually mild gastrointestinal discomfort or lethargy. Side effects are controlled using over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

If a patient experiences severe side effects, the vet will lower the chemotherapy dose to avoid similar complications in the future. In general, the quality of life of patients receiving chemotherapy is excellent.

Before chemotherapy starts, vets will ensure that pets are healthy enough to undergo treatment. Preliminary tests will let you know everything about a cancer patient, which helps to better predict outcomes, side effects, and even to tailor cure plans.

Experts say that pets with cancer are safe to interact with all members of the family. However, depending on the medication they’re receiving, there may be certain times when the animal is more vulnerable to contracting an infection. In these cases, it may be necessary to take certain precautions.

On the other hand, experts recommend that owners of pets with cancer use disposable gloves to handle everything that has to do with their little friend. They also advise that after being in contact with them, they wash their hands with soap and water.

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