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Pet Health

11/02/2020

It’s Pet Cancer Awareness Month!

Since 2005, November has been designated as National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. The goal of this annual recognition is to…

Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Since 2005, November has been designated as National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. The goal of this annual recognition is to increase awareness and raise money to fight cancer, the leading killer of pets. A year later, a similar goal came to mind when local resident Mike Holland’s dog, Hannah, was diagnosed with nasal osteosarcoma. Eager to do as much as he could to help his beloved dog, Mike found that there was little help or information available. That is when he teamed up with Ryan Traylor and Tonie Stevens to establish FETCH a Cure, a non-profit designed to raise awareness, to educate and provide pet owners greater access to information about pet cancer, senior care and treatment options.

Holiday Barn Pet Resorts partners with FETCH a cure to make Pet Cancer Awareness Month a priority each November. Cancer is one of the major threats to the lives of our furry friends and we have personally witnessed too many of our dear guests succumb to this disease. We contribute to FETCH a Cure each November by collecting donations from our loving and generous customers through our “Forget me Not” promotion, and by donating a portion of proceeds from our “Serve and Share” program. To provide our readers and customers with more information about pet cancers, this year we reached out to Sarah Moseley, Director of Development for FETCH a Cure, for her advice and guidance:

Statistically, what is the likelihood that my pet will be diagnosed with cancer?

Sarah: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately one in four dogs will develop cancer within their lifetimes, and nearly half of all dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer. Sadly, dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats get fewer cancers.

What signs should I look for to quickly detect cancer in my pet?

Sarah: Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of pet cancer can vary greatly depending on the location and severity. Oftentimes, the symptoms outlined below are a result of a condition other than cancer. However, if you observe any of the following warning signs in your pet, it’s important to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs

➢ Abdominal swelling
➢ Bleeding from the mouth, nose or other body openings
➢ Difficulty breathing
➢ Difficulty eating
➢ Lumps, bumps or discolored skin
➢ Non-healing wounds
➢ Persistent diarrhea or vomiting
➢ Sudden changes in weight
➢ Unexplained swelling, heat, pain or lameness
➢ Visible mass/tumor

Is there a particular reason the incidence of cancer in dogs is on the increase?

Sarah: As a non-veterinary professional, it’s tough to say. I often speculate that pet owners are more informed than they used to be about pet cancer, so they’re taking the steps to detect cancer more than before. I also know that pets today have a far better chance of successful treatment than ever before, thanks to advancements in early detection, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is the first thing I should do if my pet is diagnosed with cancer?

Sarah: At FETCH a Cure, we understand how overwhelming a pet cancer diagnosis can be. Our cats and dogs are our family. If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, your veterinarian will discuss the stage, type, and treatment options, along with the possible risks and side effects. The well-being and comfort of your pet will surely go into your decision-making in terms of a treatment protocol, and your veterinarian is a great resource in helping you navigate your options. If cost is a barrier in getting your pet the treatment they need, FETCH a Cure is here to help.

What can I do to improve my pet’s chances of surviving cancer?

Sarah: Cancer is such an unfair, awful disease, so even when pet owners do absolutely everything “right,” sometimes the worst still happens. That said, we greatly encourage pet owners to do regular lumps and bumps checks on their dogs and cats. It’s a daily massage that your pets will love and that will give you peace of mind that you’re keeping an eye on any new growths or changes. You should regularly check the following areas:

➢ Under the chin
➢ In front of the shoulders
➢ Down the legs
➢ Behind the knees
➢ Groin area
➢ Down the sides to check for asymmetry
➢ Inside the mouth

In addition to keeping a close eye on the early warning signs we outlined above, lumps and bumps checks are a great way to detect cancer in its early stages. An early diagnosis can greatly improve your beloved pet’s chances, so consult your veterinarian if you notice any new lumps or bumps.

How do I find out the best way to treat my pet’s cancer?

Sarah: Your veterinarian is your greatest resource in the face of a cancer diagnosis. They will often refer you to a veterinary oncologist or specialist who will help determine your pet’s treatment plan. Treatments can include a combination of therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or palliative care.

How can Fetch a Cure help me to help my pet that is suffering from cancer?

Sarah: If your dog or cat is ever diagnosed with cancer, FETCH a Cure is here to provide hope and options. Our Companions in Crisis program provides financial assistance to families in Virginia, Maryland, and DC who are facing a scary cancer diagnosis with their pets. Our vision is simple: A community where no one is denied a choice for their pet’s health due to a lack of options, education, or funding. We work to give pet owners the gift of more quality time with their beloved companions.

How can I help Fetch a Cure in their mission to educate the public regarding pet cancer, detection and treatment?

Sarah: Our website www.fetchacure.org is a great resource for pet owners. We encourage our supporters to share our information with their friends and family, follow us on our social media platforms (links below), join us at our signature events, and make a donation to help save a best friend’s life.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fetchacurefan
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fetchacure
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FETCHaCure

Clearly, the importance of advancing the cause of FETCH a Cure and furthering the knowledge about pets and cancer is a worthy undertaking. We urge you to spread the word to your neighbors and friends about the things they can do to prevent and treat cancer in their own pets.

Many thanks to Sarah Mosely for sharing her knowledge of what we all need to know about pet cancers. We so appreciate your time and consideration, Sarah.

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