SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA)- November is “National Pet Cancer Awareness Month.” Veterinarians say cancer is the leading cause of death for aging dogs and cats.
Given that, it’s important to know the signs of the most common types of cancer in dogs and cats.
According to vets, the most common cancer in dogs is lymphoma, skin and bone cancers, which all have slightly different symptoms and signs.
While skin and bone cancer are most common in older pets, lymphoma is more common in middle-aged dogs and cats around the age of four and five.
The main sign of lymphoma is swollen lymph nodes.
Veterinarian Oncologist Dr. Benjamin Lee said those would feel like bumps around your pet’s neck, behind their knees and under their legs.
Otherwise, he said, your pet may seem completely normal.
Dr. Lee said lumps may appear for skin cancer as well and cancer in the bones may result in a limp leg. He added that while finding a lump on your dog can cause some concern and be a little scary, don’t automatically think that it’s cancer.
“I don’t want to make people terrified that any slight thing that’s wrong with their dog they should go and think their pet has cancer” said Lee. “If they have a new lump or if they have significant changes at home, the best step is to go with your local veterinarian and get them evaluated and go from there.”
Dr. Lee said some cancer is more common in certain breeds like golden retrievers and boxers for example so it’s important to be aware of that.
A question Dr. Lee gets a lot is: “why does my pet have cancer?”
He said “the biggest risk factor [for] a dog or cat getting cancer is probably age. So dogs and cats are getting much better treatment than they probably did 30 or 40 years ago and they’re living much longer. And so, for me, that’s probably the biggest risk factor for why they’ve had it.”
Dr. Lee wants pet owners to be aware of these signs, but to always remember not to jump to conclusions and assume that their pet has cancer. He advises to always go to your local vet first.