Pet Cancer Awareness Month

May 18, 2013

Socrates, pre-surgery (After surgery, he moves too fast to get a good picture!)
Credit Susan Snowden

May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, a time for  pet owners to be aware of the threat of cancer in their furry friends and ways they can minimize the risk.


Socrates the cat is a cancer survivor.

Last year one of the joints in his right hind leg was swollen, making it painful to walk. The first biopsies were negative but eventually cancer was disgnosed. The veterinarian surgically removed his leg to get rid of the cancer and the risk that it could spread.

Statistics say that one of every four dogs, and one of every five cats, will get cancer in their lifetime. As frightening as it may be to hear that diagnosis for your pet, there are options available including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

According to, close to half of all disease-related pet deaths every year are due to cancer. Just like people, cancer can occur in almost any part of your pet’s body and the cause is usually unknown. Older animals are more likely to develop cancer, and certain factors (such as obesity) increase the risk of cancer.

There are certain signs to watch for that could indicate the possibility of cancer. It was obvious to his owner that Socrates had a problem with his leg, so difficulty with natural movement should be checked out. A lump on your pet’s body, especially one that seems to be growing quickly, is another possible indicator of cancer. A wound that won’t heal, unusual or unexplained bleeding, swollen lymph nodes, all should be examined by a veterinarian. If your vet thinks it could be cancer, a biopsy may be in order, or ultrasound or other scans used for cancer detection. Depending on the results, you may be referred to a veterinary oncologist for specialized treatment that could save your pet’s life.

Just as with people, early detection and treatment can increase your pet’s chances for survival. As for Socrates, well, he has only three legs now. But today he is a happy, healthy cat and (according to his owner) as fast he ever was, even without that fourth leg.

May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month – a great time to schedule that annual visit to the veterinarian, to help insure your best friend will be with you for many years to come, when you’re speaking of pets.