Over the past few years, our knowledge in veterinary medicine has expanded greatly. Canine and feline cancer is no exception. Though we still do not know many things about cancer, our understanding of how to prevent it has grown considerably. We now know there are several steps the average pet owner can take to help avoid the possibility of cancer in their dog or cat.
Genetics and Cancer in Dogs and Cats
One of the things we’ve come to realize is that some dogs and cats are more likely to get cancer than others. For instance, Golden Retrievers, as a breed, are commonly diagnosed with cancer. Boxers are another breed that is over-represented when it comes to diagnosing cancer.
Early diagnosis and treatment are one of the most important things you can do to help keep your dog or cat healthy. Cancer is much more likely to be treatable if it is diagnosed in the early stages. This means regular veterinary visits and thorough examinations. At a minimum, a physical examination should be performed for all pets at least once a year. In many cases, twice a year is preferable, especially if the dog or cat is older.
Having female cats and dogs spayed at an early age (before the first heat cycle) can also prevent malignant mammary cancers (breast tumors).
Canine and Feline Cancer and Nutrition
Proper nutrition is important to the health of any animal. In the canine and feline species, proper nutrition can help prevent the development of cancer and other health problems. Keeping your dog or cat at a proper body weight will increase his lifespan.
Fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), have a number of health benefits. These benefits include modulating inflammation, improving mentation and much more. Feeding adequate levels of DHA can help keep your dog or cat healthy.
Environment and Its Effect on Cancer in the Canine and Feline Pet
Cigarette smoke has been proven to be a source of health issues for dogs and cats, including cancer. Just as in people, second-hand ingestion of cigarette smoke has been proven to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Dogs and cats which live with smokers have a higher incidence of cancer than those that live in smoke-free homes. Of course, not smoking is healthier for you and your two-legged family members and friends as well.
Another potential source of health issues which has been implicated in pets is high tension wires near the home. Flame retardants and other chemicals (pesticides, etc.) have also been implicated.
Though it may be impossible to completely prevent your dog or cat from getting cancer, encouraging a healthy lifestyle for your pet can go a long way towards helping to keep your pet cancer-free. This includes ensuring adequate nutrition and weight control and controlling the environment to avoid cancer-causing agents. When cancer is not avoidable, regular veterinary visits will help guarantee early diagnosis and a higher chance for a successful treatment outcome.