(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
Pet Wellness Direct reports that according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cancer is now the number one killer of dogs and cats.
“Cancer rates in pets are alarmingly high, even in young pets,” says Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Shawn Messonnier, founder of Paws & Claws Animal Hospital in Plano, Texas. “Almost 50% of dogs and more than 30% of cats over the age of 10 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer.”
One simple way to protect your pets is to seek immediate treatment if they appear unwell. Here are 10 warning signs to watch for:
1. Unusual lumps: An unexpected bump or swelling beneath the skin could be a tumor. If it appears unusual, doesn’t go away, or if it grows in size, take your pet to the vet to get it checked out.
2. Changes in eating behavior or foul breath: Most animals love their mealtimes, so if your pet loses its appetite, or is acting hungry but having difficulty eating, that’s a cause for concern. The same goes if you notice a persistent foul odor coming from their mouths.
3. Weight loss: Is your cat or dog losing weight, but still eating the same amount of food? Something is preventing its digestive system from working properly — and it could be cancer.
4. Lethargy: If your pet doesn’t want to exercise and seems to be functioning at a much lower energy level than normal, that’s another indication something isn’t right.
5. Difficulty breathing: If your dog or cat’s breathing seems labored or painful in any way, take it to the vet ASAP.
6. Difficulty urinating or defecating: If you notice your pet repeatedly trying to urinate or defecate but being unable to, that could be a sign of something serious.
7. Chronic vomiting: If your pet is repeatedly vomiting, consult a vet right away.
8. Chronic diarrhea: If your dog starts showing signs of chronic diarrhea, take them to the vet immediately as that could be a sign of cancer or even impending organ failure.
9. Unusual bleeding: If you see blood in your pet’s urine or stool, or if they seem to be bleeding from the mouth or have a wound that isn’t healing, take them to the vet immediately.
10. Persistent lameness: If you notice your cat or dog limping or favoring one of its limbs continuously, and the lameness doesn’t appear to be going away, take them to the vet.
Early detection is key to helping your pet successfully overcome cancer, so if you notice any of the above symptoms, or any other signs suggesting that something isn’t right, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately for a professional evaluation. As a preventative measure, you may also want to provide pets of any age with a daily immune-boosting supplement such as VetSmart Formulas Critical Immune Defense: http://getvsf.com/cid-press
“I always recommend proactive measures to my patients and giving your pets a high-quality antioxidant supplement is highly recommended to further reduce the risk of cancers,” says Dr. Messonnier.
Critical Immune Defense is not available in retail stores and can be found only at PetWellnessDirect.com at http://getvsf.com/cid-press.
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)