Many dog and cat owners are aware that their beloved pet getting cancer is a possibility, but there are quite a few that aren’t aware that breast cancer is one form they could develop. Breast cancer, also known as mammary cancer, occurs mainly in females and typically in those that aren’t spayed. It’s a surprising disease that more current and potential pet owners should be aware of.
According to pets.webmd.com, about 80% of breast tumors found in unspayed cats and 45% in unspayed dogs are malignant. Mammary gland tumors occur mostly in unspayed dogs and cats over the age of six. Veterinarypartner.com and spapus.org (respectively) state that it is the third most common cancer found in cats and is the most common type of tumor found in unspayed female dogs.
Early spaying is the best course of action when it comes to breast cancer prevention in dogs and cats. The longer they wait to get spayed, the more their chances increase. To lessen the risk, it is best to make sure the dog or cat is spayed before she goes into her first heat. According to dalmatians.us, waiting until the dog is 2 ½ or older basically makes the risk of the dog getting breast cancer about the same as if she had never been spayed at all. Basically, the earlier the dog or cat is spayed, the better it is.
Abcnews.go.com states the importance of taking the pet for an annual vet exam as well as doing a manual inspection at home once a week. Check the mammary glands with your hands as well as visually to detect any hard masses or an area of the skin that seems red. If anything seems suspicious, it is better to take the animal to the vet.
Breeds and Age
Peteducation.com states that out of all the breeds of cats, Siamese are twice as likely to develop breast cancer than other breeds. Dalmatians.us states that purebred dogs are twice as likely to develop breast cancer than their mixed breed counterparts of the same age. According to caninecancer.com, some of the breeds most at risk for mammary cancer are poodles, cocker spaniels, Boston terriers and the fox terrier. For both dogs and cats, the average age the tumors are found is around ten.
The best course of treatment, according to pets.webmd.com, is to have the tumor surgically removed. Depending on where the tumor is as well as the size of it determines how much tissue is going to be removed from the animal. Chances are there will also be antibiotics that the pet will need to be on after surgery to reduce the chance of infection.
Anyone that has a cat or dog knows that surgery or treatment is typically not cheap and can cause almost instant panic at the thought of how to afford it. I urge you to not lose hope. There are many vet offices that are willing to work with you to discuss financial options, especially if you are already in good standing with their office. For more information on other options, please read MH Bonham’s article about what to do when you can’t afford to pay the vet bill.
While learning of your pets breast cancer diagnosis can be heartbreaking, it’s important not to lose hope. Yes, statistics are numbers based on reported cases and studies, but your pet is an individual. Each pet is different and therefore, each case is different. Keep a realistic, but hopeful outlook when dealing with the diagnosis and take things day by day.
Please note that links and information are subject to change after publication of this article.
Pets.webmd.com – Cats
pets.webmd.com – Dogs
Other great reading:
“How to Pay Your Dog or Cat’s Veterinary Bills When You Can’t Afford to Pay” by MH Bonham