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Top 5 Cancer Prevention Tips

Cancer is a disease that we veterinarians are diagnosing more frequently in pets. According to the Morris Animal Foundation, “1 in 2 dogs will develop cancer and 1 in 4 dogs will die of the disease. As there is no guarantee for a cure, we should strive to prevent our pets from developing cancer in the first place. Yet, as cancer is a complicated disease of the immune system involving excessive growth of cells that have altered DNA, the origins of the disease never have a singular or finite cause. Therefore, there is no absolute guarantee that our best efforts to prevent cancer from happening will guarantee a desired outcome (i.e., having a pet never develop cancer).

 May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, so I want to emphasize the concept that making healthy lifestyle choices can provide a better state of overall wellness and potentially reduce the likelihood that cancer may occur. Although there is no fail proof cancer preventive tactic, here are my top five tips to help keep your pet cancer free.
1. Physical Examination — Take a DIY (Do It Yourself) approach paired with your veterinarian’s evaluation

. Owners can take a proactive, holistic approach to their pets’ health by placing their hands on their canine or feline companions on a daily basis to perform a DIYversion of a physical exam. Frequent, tactile examination of a pet’s body permits pet owners to detect areas of discomfort, heat or swelling, skin lesions or masses, or other abnormalities that can then be brought to a veterinarian’s attention.

All pets should have a physical examination by a veterinarian at least every 12 months (more frequently for juvenile, geriatric, and sick pets). During the exam, all organ systems can be evaluated through the veterinarian’s scrutinizing perspective. The eyes, ears, nose, mouth, heart, lungs, digestive tract, lymph nodes, skin, neurologic function, and urogenital (urinary and reproductive parts) and musculoskeletal systems must operate normally to achieve whole body health. Body weight and temperature should also be assessed during each visit.

Read the four other excellent tips from Dr. Mahaney on petMD.

Dr. Jeff also advises baseline testing (blood and urine) for all older pets. As this wonderful picture of Brady exemplifies (his life was saved by comparative preventive diagnostic screening) , diagnostics can be lifesaving. The early warning signs of disease may only manifest internally.