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Do Cats and Dogs Get Cancer?

Dogs are diagnosed with cancer at about the same rate as humans.
A veterinarian can diagnose cancer with blood tests and other procedures.
Though cats develop cancer, they do so less frequently than humans.
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  • Written By: Kathy Hawkins
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2014
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Cancer in pets like cats and dogs is fairly common. Dogs tend to develop cancer at about the same rate as human beings do, while cats are diagnosed somewhat less frequently. Unfortunately, cancer is the cause of death for about 50% of all pets over ten years.

Some common indicators of cancer in pets are symptoms such as persistent or growing swellings on the body, sores that refuse to heal, a reduced appetite, weight loss, or constant fatigue. Though these symptoms may also be evidence for other conditions, all are cause for concern, and require a trip to the veterinarian.

There are are many varieties of cancer in cats, dogs, and other pets. Breast cancer can be common in female cats and dogs, but the chances of developing it can be drastically reduced by spaying the animal at a young age. Cancer of the mouth is a common condition in dogs, though not as much in cats. Lymphoma is a frequently occurring type of cancer, and can sometimes be treated with chemotherapy. Abdominal and bone tumors may also occur frequently.

Cancer in pets is diagnosed in the same methods as cancer in humans is: typically, through x-rays, blood tests, physical signs, and most importantly, a biopsy, which is the removal of a piece of tissue from the body that is believed to be cancerous. For treatment, veterinarians use techniques like radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and other methods. A combination of several different treatments is often employed.

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As a rule, there is no typical outcome for the treatment of cancer in pets. As in humans, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance of full recovery. With some cancers, the animal may be able to live a relatively healthy life for many months even if the cancer cannot be treated. With others, when painful forms of cancer develop and cannot be treated, euthanization may be necessary. In such cases, the animal will be relaxed with a sedative, and the owner will have the opportunity to say goodbye.

Currently, there are many veterinarian programs dedicated to treating and curing cancer in pets. They hope to find a cure within the next 10 to 20 years, which could then lead to a cure for cancer in humans.

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Discuss this Article

anon323216
Post 5

I would do everything I could to help my cat, Skye. When I got her, I took on the task of taking care of her the rest of her life. She is part of the family.

anon154851
Post 4

I was petting my cat when I felt this bump on his neck so I split the fur and it is just a medium sized bump and I am not sure if it is a tumor or not and if it is malignant or not. How can I find out?

My parents are not the kind of people to go to the vet because they think wasting money on animals is dumb but I really love my little kitten and don't want him to die. So is there a way to know what it is without going to the vet?

vogueknit17
Post 3

While I also have to agree somewhat with the sentiments about the expense of animal cancer therapy, I like that this article also points out curing animal cancer could help cure human cancer, which is more complex in some ways. I think that helps convince me at least that helping a pet with cancer could help me to help others in some small, strange way.

aaaCookie
Post 2

@sherlock87, I feel the same way. My parents had to spend a lot of money on one of our cats that died a few years ago, and she just had arthritis; I don't know what I would do about cancer in a pet, I suppose it would depend on my resources, especially monetary, at the time.

sherlock87
Post 1

I have a hard time thinking about what I would do if my cat got cancer. While I love my pets and always have, the idea of going to cancer specialists for a pet seems sort of ridiculous and expensive. I suppose I would know what to do when the time came.

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