Sadly, we see many many cases of this terrible disease in cats and dogs. The kinds of cancer, their clinical presentation, and the potential treatments for these diseases in pets is as varied as it is in humans. We see many of the same types of cancers that human patients suffer from, and we also see some species specific diseases in our companion animals. The cause of these conditions in dogs and cats is usually as elusive as it is in human medicine.
It would be impossible to itemize and describe each and every cancer type we see, but the warning signs of the disease, although not at all diagnostic for cancer, are still worth knowing since early detection can have a strong impact on outcome. Our cancer patients are usually from within our geriatric population, but there are certain types of cancer that can effect patients even under one year of age.
Symptoms of cancer can include abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow, sores that do not heal, weight loss, decreased appetite, bleeding or discharge from any body opening, offensive odors, difficulty eating or swallowing, hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina, persistent lameness or stiffness, or difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating. None of these is diagnostic for cancer but the occurrence of any one of them should lead to a complete physical examination immediately.
Cancer treatment in pets is as varied as it is in human medicine and most commonly includes surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. In certain cases, we can actually effect a cure, while in others our goal is to increase time and quality of life, knowing full well that this disease can be impossible to beat. We are fortunate to have a number of specialty oncologists in our area with whom we consult or to whom we refer when cancer diagnosis or treatment becomes overly complex. Many of these patients are handled here at Fountain City Animal Hospital, but when a specialist is needed, we don’t hesitate to call on them.