November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone needs to monitor their pets for changes in their behavior or a lump that suddenly develops. I have had three dogs diagnosed with cancer and have friends who lost animals due to cancer. It’s something I wish no pet or pet parent would ever have to go through. Unfortunately, it is more common than you think.

One in four dogs will develop tumors in their lifetime. Most are benign, but some are malignant. It is best to have your pet examined by your vet if you find a tumor on your pet. I recently took my cat into my vet because I found a lump on her tummy. Fortunately, it was just fat. Now she is eating less. That was my fault!

Oddly enough, cancer symptoms in cats are harder to detect. Cats will mask their pain, so it is hard to tell when something is wrong. One common cancer for cats is feline leukemia. There is a vaccine for feline leukemia, but many cat parents don’t get it.

Cancer symptoms for cats and dogs can vary, but here is a list of signals to watch out for:

• Diarrhea and or vomiting.

• Bleeding from the mouth or nose, or blood in stools.

• Lumps or discolored skin.

• Loss of appetite and changes in weight.

• Swelling, lameness, visible tumor.

• Difficulty eating or breathing.

• Wounds that won’t heal.

The old saying “Prevention is worth a pound of cure” has always resonated with me. There are many things we can do to help safeguard our pets from cancer. Spay or neuter your pets. Animals that are spayed or neutered have a minuscule chance of contracting mammary or testicular cancer.

Examine your pet regularly for any lumps or swelling, or changes in skin color.

Having regular dental exams and teeth cleaning has a lot to do with your pet’s health. A bad tooth can cause infections in the body leading to all sorts of issues.

Feed your pet a healthy grain free diet and keep their weight in check. Obese pets, like obese people can succumb to all sorts of ailments.

Annual examinations at your vet’s office can find any issues that you may not be able to detect.

Our pets are like family and we need to treat them like family. They deserve the same medical care that we give ourselves. They give us comfort, companionship and unconditional love. The least we can do in return is to keep them healthy and take them to the vet when needed. Please spread the word about pet cancer! Catching it early is the key!

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