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What Causes Cancer in Pets?

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The majority of pet cancer cases occur in middle aged and older pets, with Cats having a higher incidence of cancer than dogs.  Following are some feline cancer facts:

  • 32% of all cats over 10 years of age will die from cancer
  • 10% of all feline tumors are found in the mouth
  • 25% of all feline cancers are skin cancers, with 50-65% being malignant

So what are common causes of cancer in pets?

  • Carcinogens,  such as ultraviolet rays, X-rays, and cigarettes are known causes of cancer in pets. Secondhand cigarette smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in cats and dogs.
  • The feline leukemia virus also causes several types of cancer.
  • Herbicides have been associated with bladder cancer in pets.
  • Genetics- Some specific dog breeds are known to be genetically more susceptible to certain types of cancer. Retrievers, Boxers, and Cocker Spaniels are prone to lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes),  while larger breeds such as the Rottweiler are susceptible to osteosarcoma (bone cancer).
  • Previous injuries in cats and dogs are occasionally suspect in cancer cases.  Some veterinarians believe bone cancers may develop at the site of a previous injury.

Frequent home exams can often help with early cancer detection.  Regular vet visits, minimum once a year, are also necessary as a means of early cancer detection.  If you do see any changes in your pet, however, don’t wait until the annual exam to have them checked out, early detection is essential to help the treatment be successful.

Dog Owner’s Home Vet Handbook and Cat Owner’s Home Vet Handbook used as reference for this posting


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