When you have an older dog or cat, your veterinarian may recommend that they come in more often than once a year for their check-up. In general, even when your pet may still appear to be happy, healthy, and reasonably active, your veterinarian may recommend check-ups twice a year or more regularly when they’re experiencing health issues.
According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA), when your dog or cat is seven years old, they are usually considered to be “senior.” This does vary, however. Larger breeds of dogs, for example, do not live as long as smaller breeds. As a result, they may reach this stage when they are five or six.
There are a variety of health issues that can arise in both dogs and cats as they age. One of these is dental disease. By the time they are three years old, it’s been found that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some signs of dental disease. This can lead to abscesses, loose teeth, and of course, chronic pain.
Your older pet, according to the AVMA, may also be developing or experiencing one or more of these diseases:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
The AVMA also states that for pets ten and older, over half of them die as a result of cancer. While dogs and humans seem to develop cancer at the same rate, cats usually develop cancer at a lower rate.
If you believe your pet may have cancer, there are some signs of cancer in pets that you will want to know about. When you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your pet to a veterinary specialty center in order to obtain a diagnosis.
The AVMA lists these as possible signs of cancer in pets:
- 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 or tumor
Your pet’s veterinary specialist may note the physical presence of an obvious tumor and perform several different types of procedures; these would usually include x-rays and blood tests. The AVMA, however, states that the only way to determine if your pet actually has cancer is through taking a biopsy.
Neoplasia, according to the AVMA, is the term used for an “uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells or tissues in the body.” There are different types of neoplasms, or tumors. Some growths may be benign, or do not show signs of cancer, while others are malignant, and are cancerous.
If your veterinary specialist diagnoses your pet with cancer, you will be able to discuss pet cancer treatment options with them. According to the AVMA, they may recommend one of more of the following therapies:
Cancer treatment for pets may also include a special diet and pain management, according to the AVMA. It has also been noted that pets tend to have fewer side effects than humans with chemotherapy.
If surgery is one of the pet cancer treatment options recommended by your veterinary specialist, you will be able to discuss the veterinary surgical procedures with them. Your veterinary specialist will also make sure that you know how to properly care for your pet post-surgery.
It’s important to remember that you can ask your veterinary specialist about all of the available types of pet cancer treatment options available. When surgery is not recommended, your specialist will provide you with additional recommendations to make your pet comfortable.