We understand that having a pet diagnosed with cancer can be emotionally draining and difficult to process. Where we at the Cape Ann Veterinary hospital do not treat Oncology cases we can refer you to some great veterinary oncologists who will be able to help our pet cancer patients and their owners better understand their diagnosis and choose a treatment plan that best works for them. Whether you opt for chemotherapy or radiation therapy, they will discuss all benefits and potential side effects associated with each treatment. Our goal is to provide you with valuable information, to help provide answers to all of your treatment questions, and along with an Oncologist, help guide you through the decision making process.
Some places we recommend are:
The New England Veterinary Oncology Group
The Massachusetts Veterinary Referal Oncology Department
VCA South Shore Animal Hospital Oncology Department
The following signs are possible indications of cancer:
Change in shape, size, or texture of existing lumps in pet skin
Difficulty urinating or defecating
Drainage and foul smell coming out of ears
Frequent runny nose with or without blood in it
Lethargy beyond normal levels
New lumps in skin
Noticeable change in stride – limping or sudden change in posture
Noticeable increase in water consumption
Shifting of teeth
If you notice one or several of these in your pet, we advise you to schedule an appointment immediately to assess the cause.
Common types of pet cancer
Abdominal Cancer– Abdominal cancer in pets affects one or more of the major internal organs (e.g. stomach, kidneys, liver, etc). During annual pet exams, we perform routine tests to check for signs of abdominal cancer.
Bone Cancer – Bone cancer most commonly occurs in larger canine breeds, but can affect smaller canines and felines as well. Osteosarcoma, the most common form of bone cancer in pets, accounts for nearly all cases. Because it is a particularly aggressive disease, quick diagnosis and treatment planning are critical.
Canine Lymphoma – Canine Lymphoma is most notably a concern when your pet develops round, hard bumps on its skin, usually around the armpits, back, or abdomen. If suspected, a number of tests can determine whether the lumps are cancerous. In some cases, a biopsy of the lump is necessary.
Feline Leukemia – Feline Leukemia attacks the immune system (immunosuppression) and can lead to cancer. Typically transmitted from close contact with another cat that has the disease, Feline Leukemia requires close veterinary care to help prolong the life of your pet.
Skin Cancer – There are several types of pet skin cancer, including mast cell carcinoma and melanoma. Having the appearance of an abnormal growth, a veterinarian can determine if your pet has skin cancer. When treated quickly, the cancer can be surgically removed; if it has spread over a larger area, radiation therapy might be necessary.
What pet cancer therapies are available?
Unlike humans, animals with cancer do not experience a lot of pain. While many human cancers are very similar to pet cancers, the way they attack the body are very distinctive; for this reason, treatment procedures are handled differently. Without an absolute cure for pet cancer, therapies are developed to make your pet as comfortable as possible, with the hope of prolonging life. Most cancers can be controlled with close veterinary care, and the side effects are usually minimal. Pet cancer treatment options include chemotherapy and supplements, radiation, and/or surgery. Treatment plans vary depending on what type of cancer a pet is diagnosed with, as well as the invasiveness of the cancer. Sometimes one therapy is used alone. Other times, multiple treatments are combined to attack the cancer in a multidimensional approach. The veterinarian will formulate a specific treatment plan for your pet based on their particular cancer and its development.
If you have any questions about pet medical oncology or therapy, please contact our office.