Cancer…this is something you NEVER want to hear when you go to the veterinarian's…but, unfortunately, it is something that is one of the many diagnoses that we now hear. Pets do get cancer and the age at which most are diagnosed is between four and seven. The causes? Who knows, but one thing that may contribute to an increase in cancer diagnosis in dogs is over-vaccination.
What are some of the signs of Cancer?
There are some definite signs that you should be on the look-out for that may indicate the possibility of the Big C in your dog. I wasn't aware of these signs when Tifanny was diagnosed but now, am definitely aware of what to look for and want to share the signs with you.
- Unusual Swelling: Swelling or swollen glands around the neck, shoulders, behind the knees…these are things to definitely take notice of, particularly if the swelling doesn't go down or begin to actually get larger. (Tifanny's 'shoulders' seem to get unusually large; this was actually her lymph glands swelling up)
- Lethargy and Lack of Overall Energy: If your normally energetic pup seems to be really tired and doesn't want to go for walks or play like usual, get its blood levels checked.
- Loss of Appetite or Difficulty Eating or Swallowing: Dogs like to eat and if yours doesn't want to eat its favourite treat or has difficulty eating or swallowing, get to the veterinarian immediately.
- Bleeding or Discharge from any Body Opening: Unusual bleeding or strange discharge (liquidy stuff) from any body opening is not good!
- Weight Loss: If your dog begins to lose weight all of a sudden, then you should definitely worry! It could mean other things (like intestinal worms, too) but, any time a dog begins to lose weight and isn't on a diet, then a vet visit should be a priority.
- Sores that do not Heal: Just like with humans, if your pet's sores and cuts are not healing, it is time to worry.
- Difficulty Breathing: This is a no brainer!
- Difficulty Urinating or Defecating: Although this may not seem like a big thing, pets should be able to urinate and defecate regularly and as a pet owner, you are aware of your pet's habits. Anything unusual should be reported.
The first thing you will want to do if you suspect Cancer is to get a complete CBC (blood panel test). This will help to determine what is going on and if the white blood cells are in overabundance, you will know if there is a problem.
Can you prevent Cancer in Dogs?
Just like with anything else, there may be some things you can do to help prevent cancer. For example, with the vaccinations, instead of blindly getting a vaccination each year, get your titer levels tested. This is discussed above. Too much of anything is not good. Period!
Food: Eating a good diet is key. Keeping the diet low in grains is helpful. Cancer feeds on carbs so a diet lower in carbohydrates (grains) is better.
Water: Drinking filtered or distilled/purified water may be helpful as it eliminates impurities that may contain contaminants.
In the Garden: Eliminating the use of all pesticides is KEY. Dogs absorb chemicals through the skin of the pads on their feet. So, when chemicals are used on the lawn (fertilizers, pesticides/insecticides), and we walk on it, the chemicals are absorbed right into our bodies! This can also be a potential cancer problem. The same holds true for sprays and systemics used in the garden.
In the House: Begin using organic cleaning compounds. Clorox Greenworks, Seventh Generation, Ecover, Trader Joe's, …there are SO many different green ways to clean (you can even make your own!). Stop using stuff like Swiffer. Just keep thinking, "My dog can absorb this stuff through his paws!"
What if my dog GETS Cancer?
The first thing is, DON'T FREAK OUT! (yeah, easy to say, I know…mama cried hysterically) Click here…