May is pet cancer awareness month. Here are a few facts about pet cancer. Almost 50% of disease related pet deaths are due to cancer. Cancer is the #1 cause of natural death in older dogs. Some dog breeds are more prone to cancer with Goldens and Labs being two of the more common breeds on the list.
The Pet Cancer Awareness website has an excellent list of signs and symptoms of cancer. One of the signs that I’m surprised is not on the list comes from personal experience. The dog to the right is Chloe who I lost to cancer in 2004. I still miss her. She had lymphoma. I felt lumps on her hind legs, but they were on both legs and I mistakenly assumed nothing was wrong. I had no idea that dogs have lymph nodes in their hind legs (!) and that was the start of the signs of cancer. It wasn’t until a few weeks later we found the hard lymph nodes in her neck. Had I known that the lumps in her back legs were not normal, I would have acted sooner and she might have lived a little longer.
The lesson in this is to know your dog. Know what is normal for them. When you brush them or pet them, know how their body feels under your hands. If you find any lumps or bumps that have no explanation, get them checked out. Keep your dog at an ideal weight. These days we all see obese dogs all around us. You should be able to easily feel your dog’s ribs. If you can’t, your dog needs to lose weight. Make sure your dog is spayed or neutered. Dogs that are intact are more prone to certain cancers than those who have been spayed or neutered. Review the list of signs and symptoms and know when something is out of the ordinary for your pet. Your awareness of what is normal for your pet could save its life!
If your awareness of your dog’s health helped you tackle cancer early, please comment below.