5 Things to Know about Neoplasia and Cancers in Pets

Our pets can’t always tell us when they’re sick. That’s why regular check-ups at the vet are so critical to discovering conditions like neoplasia and cancer early.

Here are 5 things you need to know if you discover an unexpected growth or lump on your pet:

1. Neoplasia is not always cancer

Not all growths or lumps are cancerous. Sometimes, abnormal cell or tissue growth is benign and may be called either a neoplasm or a tumour. Generally, benign growths grow slowly over a longer period and do not spread throughout the body. Malignant growths often appear more rapidly and spread around the body.

2. 1 in 4 dogs will get neoplasia

Neoplasia is almost as common in pets as it is in humans. About 25% of all dogs will get some form of benign or malignant neoplasia in their life, and nearly half of all dogs over 10 years old will develop cancer.

3. Neoplasia risk can be minimized 

Like in humans, there are ways to reduce your chances of getting cancers but none are 100% guaranteed. But there are a few things you can do to help minimize the risk:

  • Reduce exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Have your pets spayed or neutered
  • Book regular vet wellness checks (to catch neoplasia or cancer early)

4. Know these signs of neoplasia

Your vet will check many of these signs during your pets’ wellness checks. If you notice any of these signs between regular check-ups book an appointment to get it checked:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bleeding from the mouth, nose or other body openings
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty eating
  • Lumps, bumps or discoloured skin
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Persistent diarrhea or vomiting
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Unexplained swelling, heat, pain or lameness
  • Visible mass/tumour

(Signs of neoplasia from the American Veterinary Medical Association)

5. Discuss treatment options with your vet

If your vet diagnoses your pet with neoplasia or cancer there are different treatments available depending on how far it’s spread (the stage) and the type of cancer. It may include a combination of surgery, chemo, radiation, cryosurgery (freezing), hyperthermia (heating), or immunotherapy.

The side effects of Chemotherapy treatments aren’t as drastic as they are in humans. Pets handle chemo much better than we do. Your vet may also discuss lifestyle and dietary changes. You can also seek holistic and natural therapies from a holistic vet.

Ask your vet about your option for treatment and pain management.

The good news…

This was a darker topic than I usually write about, but it’s important to know what to look for in your pets. Like in humans, early detection of unexplained growths is often more easily treated. Benign growths are much easier to remove and treat and have less damaging effects for your pet when removed. 

If you have any concerns about growths on your pet, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian for a wellness check. A healthy pet, even one with neoplasia or cancer, can still live a long, happy life with the attention and treatment.

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