The month of May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, created by the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research, with the goal to raise awareness of the disease and to raise funds for researching treatments and cures. It is likely that you, or someone you know has had a pet affected by cancer. The facts are this: about one out of every three dogs will be affected by cancer (most likely over the age of two) at some point in their life, with about half of those affected dying from the disease. The goal of this month is two-fold: firstly, to provide dog owners with information on cancer and its treatment options, and secondly, to present progressive research and give pet owner’s ways to support canine cancer research.
As with most diseases, the best cure is prevention, followed closely by early detection. There are a number of prevention tactics related to diet and exercise, however the 5 main strategies suggested for prevention are these:
- Reduce use of flea/tick products – an ingredient found in the most popular brand of flea/tick prevention products, Frontline, is fipronil, which the EPA pesticide division states may alter thyroid hormones that can cause cancer
- Use non-toxic products on your garden/lawn maintenance – many studies have linked cancer in canines to lawn chemicals
- Use non-toxic cleaning products – but check the ingredients! Many products that use labels such as ‘non-toxic’ or ‘green’ often still contain harsh cancer causing ingredients
- Wait to spay/neuter your pet – studies have found that dogs who are ‘fixed’ younger than one year old have higher rates of cancer than those fixed at the age of 18mo-1yr
- Eliminate/Minimize vaccinations, when possible – vaccines can cause cancer in dogs and cats at their injection sites, and other areas of the body, due to aluminum, a carcinogen. Be sure to only vaccinate when needed!
As far as early detection goes, The Veterinary Cancer Society recommends looking out for these 10 Early Warning Signs on your pet:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- An enlarging or changing lump
- Abdominal distension
- Chronic weight loss
- Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
- Unexplained bleeding
- Straining to urinate
- Oral odor
It is advised that you immediately take your dog to the vet for a thorough examination if any of these are found.
Unfortunately, cancer is still the number one disease-related killer of dogs. However, through Pet Cancer Awareness Month and organizations such as the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research, pet parents can become more knowledgeable on the subject, and develop habits for prevention and early detection!
Our very own Lucky who inspired Animal Fair lost her battle with spleen cancer. She was honored with the The Lucky Diamond Critical Care Ward at The Humane Society of New York who carries on Lucky’s legacy of saving and helping animals in dire need, providing pet parents and animals affordable critical health care that they might not have received otherwise. Lucky Diamond was the sweetest, purest, and funniest soul. She was totally without prejudice, she didn’t care if you were chubby or thin, black or white, rich or poor, furry or not. Lucky was truly one of a kind, and there will never be another dog like her! We miss you dear Lucky, and wherever you are running right now in the big doggie park in the sky, thank you for all you’ve done to help animals in this world! Watch her story..