September 14, 2009
Pet Health Alert: Cancer Prevention in Older Dogs
Cancer is not only a risk for human beingsit can affect our canine companions, too. "Veterinary research estimates that the incidence of cancer in older dogs ranges from 50 to 75 percent," according to Dr. Louise Murray, ASPCA Director of Medicine at Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital (BMAH).
Such high numbers of the disease may have to do with innovations in pet health care, such as vaccines and deworming. “Nowadays, more pets are protected from parasites, heartworms and viral disease,” observes Dr. Murray. “As a result, they are living longer and developing cancer in their old age.”
Veterinary oncologists are also detecting cancer more often and at earlier stages with the help of sophisticated diagnostic tools such as ultrasound, CT scans and even MRIs for pets.
Though we cannot prevent all cancers, there are certain steps pet parents can take to greatly diminish the chances of their animal companion contracting the disease:
Spaying and neutering pets before their first heat cycles can significantly reduce the occurrence of mammary tumors and helps prevent ovarian, uterine and testicular cancers.
If you notice a mass on your pet's skin, have it examined immediately by a veterinarian. If it is cancerous, have it removed as soon as possible.
Don't allow your pet to be exposed to cigarette smoke.
Use pet-formulated sunscreen on vulnerable, fair-skinned pets.
Avoid chemical lawn products, which are proven to cause cancers in pets, including bladder cancer and lymphoma.
Read ASPCA veterinary tips on diagnosing, treating and preventing cancer in dogs.
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