November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month!
According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, there are 65 million dogs and 32 million cats in the United States. Of these, there are 6 million new cancer diagnoses made in dogs, and about the same number diagnosed in cats each year. In comparison, about 1 million new cancer diagnoses occur in humans each year. Humans are more likely to get lung, stomach, and bowel cancers than pets. However, dogs and cats have higher rates of skin, breast, bone, and blood cancers than humans do. According to Pet Health 101, cancer kills 33% of younger dogs and 50% of dogs that are age 10 or older. About 33% of cats die of cancer.
Nobody has all the answers when it comes to cancer. We do know there are several factors which affect the prevalence of cancer in pets. Environmental carcinogens like pesticides and air pollution can increase the rate of cancers in both humans and pets. Genetic factors also play a role. Other contributing factors include: poor diet, over/improper vaccination, viruses, overexposure to sunlight, and obesity. At Holistic Veterinary Care, we encourage pet owners to take a proactive approach in the care of their pets.
Ways to promote health and reduce the likelihood of chronic diseases like cancer:
Feed your pet high-quality foods, as close to whole foods as possible. Avoid food and treats with processed ingredients. Avoid feeding them table scraps.
Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercises every day. Dogs need a minimum of 20 minutes or more, depending on the dog. For indoor cats, make sure they have several play periods every day. Toys and cat trees are good exercises.
Spaying or neutering your pet reduces or eliminates the incidence of mammary cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and testicular cancer.
- Holistic medicine:
Holistic medicine is a safe and gentle way to address physical and emotional imbalances. Acupuncture, chiropractic care, and herbal medicine can assist pets in recovery from illness and can often reduce or eliminate the need for excessive medications that tax the liver and immune system.
Get in the habit of regularly massaging your pets. The many benefits of massage include improving circulation and reducing stress. But it also allows you to be in tune with your pet. Slowly run your hands through the fur, following the contours of the body. Being hands-on with your pet allows you to get familiar with their body, and helps you to notice changes like lumps or skin abnormalities that could be early signs of cancer. The earlier you notice imbalances, the better chance for recovery.
- Reduce chemical exposure:
Reduce exposure to potential toxins like car exhaust, asbestos, and tobacco smoke. Avoid household chemicals and do not use pesticides like Round Up in your yard. There are many natural, organic cleaners and yard treatments that are safe for kids and pets.
Make sure to checkout our follow up article on Pets and Cancer: Pets and Cancer: Part II