Specialty Services: Oncology

Pet Cancer: What Pet Owners Should Know

It is estimated that 1 in 4 dogs over the age of 2 years will die of cancer, stressing the importance for pet owners to recognize the clinical signs of cancer in their pets. Clinical signs are often non-specific, such as weight loss and lethargy, and can mimic signs associated with a number of other underlying causes. If you notice these clinical signs in your pet, it should be not be alarming, but instead precautionary, warranting a visit to your veterinarian for further evaluation.


If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, there are often treatment options. The treatments used for cancer therapy in pets are very similar to those used in humans, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, it is important for owners to know that the side effects of such treatments in pets, especially chemotherapy, are very different from that in humans. While many of the drugs are the same, pets tend to tolerate therapy exceptionally well at the dosage and schedules used in veterinary oncology. Less than 20 percent of pets receiving chemotherapy show any clinical signs whatsoever. Those that do show clinical signs experience treatable nausea and/or diarrhea. Less than 1% of pets become life-threateningly ill from the therapy.


As in humans, perhaps the most important factor in successful cancer treatment is early detection. Treating a cancer in the early stages of the disease is often much more rewarding and can often be cured. Therefore, it is important to keep close attention to your pet for early warning signs of cancer and to bring your pet in for regular check-up examinations with your veterinarian.


If you would like more information regarding cancer in pets or if you have specific questions pertaining to your personal pet, please feel free to visit the Client Education section of the AMVS website or call to set up a consultation with Dr. Fowler.



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