To summarise cancer in our pets in one article is a difficult one. Mainly because there are so many different types, each condition effecting animals in different ways. Cancer develops due to a cell mutation, this could be in a certain organ such as liver or spleen, or within the skin, muscle or bone. Unlike humans, there are relatively few known causes for cancer in our pets. Whilst in humans, smoking is linked to lung cancer, there aren’t such relationships associated with our pets. What we do know is that different breeds are certainly more prone to certain tumours. Large/giant breeds are prone to bone tumours, boxers are more likely to get skin tumours, flat-coated retrievers are unfortunately more prone to aggressive cancers. It is important to research this before deciding to have a certain breed so that you can look out for certain conditions and hopefully prevent things before it is too late.
Simply put, cancer can be divided into two types of tumour, benign and malignant. Benign tumours typically don’t spread and will only cause issue if they grow to a large enough size to cause a physical issue. Malignant tumours however can be very invasive both locally and potentially spreading around the body causing secondary tumours (metastases). They can be very aggressive and fast growing. On the outside we may just see one lump, however unfortunately if the tumour has the ability to spread then it may have spread to multiple regions within the body such as liver/spleen or lungs. This is why it is so important for early diagnosis of cancer, by limiting the chance of spreading; this increases your pets’ chance of beating cancer.
Depending on the type of cancer, this will affect your pet in a variety of ways. This can range from causing physical/mobility issues to gastrointestinal illness such as vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and anorexia. For every type of cancer/tumour, the only way to diagnose it and find out what it is requires taking your pet to your local veterinary surgery, discussing the history and nature of the problem and then most likely testing/sampling. Around 25% of our pets will develop a tumour/cancer in their lifetime, and therefore, it may not be a topic we want to discuss and perhaps even want to ignore, however we cannot ignore the importance of it in the lives of our pets.
Nutrition can play a vital role in our pets lives and there are many conditions related to dietary imbalance which affect our pets. We will publish another article next Friday where we discuss the importance of nutrition during cancer.