Growing number of pets diagnosed with cancer every year

Posted at 3:17 PM, Nov 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-25 08:50:45-05

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — A growing number of cats and dogs are diagnosed with cancer every year according to BluePearl Pet Hospitals.

Dr. Nick Szigetvari is a veterinary oncologist at BluePearl Speciality and Emergency Pet Hospital in Cool Springs. He said when you can't communicate with your cat, it's hard to know if they're in pain, so it's important to pay attention to minor changes.

"They also tend to hide pain, or exaggerate things that aren’t painful, so it can be difficult to really assess their pain levels," Szigetvari said, "Weight loss, poor appetite, cats that just aren’t grooming, kind of unthrifty looking, really subtle things in cats cause they’re so notorious for kind of hiding some of their symptoms."

Approximately 19,800 pets across the country are seen at BluePearl for issues related to cancer. In addition, they estimate 1 in 3 dogs will be diagnosed with cancer.

Szigetvari said, "Somewhere between 40 to 50% is estimated, and whether that’s on the rise, or is it just because as a society we’re taking better care of our pets, and they’re living a lot longer?"

It's important to check for lumps and swelling while you pet your dog.

"A lot of times they can be dismissed as maybe like a bug bite, but honestly if something is found and doesn’t go away in just a week, probably should be looked into further," Szigetvari said, "Limping is a big thing, that could be a sign of pain due to a mass somewhere."

If your dog has a wound that doesn't heal, or difficulty swallowing, those could be indicators of cancer too.

"Not eating well, weight loss, just more lethargic, and tired," Szigetvari said.

If your dog is over 7-years-old, or your cat is over 10-years-old, he recommends checkups twice a year.

November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. BluePearl offers some tips on how to prevent pet cancer:

  1. Keep your pet at a healthy weight.
  2. Spay or neuter at an appropriate age.
  3. Minimize exposure to carcinogens and other toxins.
  4. Maintain routine examinations

If your pet is diagnosed with cancer they may need surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation.