Cancer isn’t a disease that only affects humans. Sadly, dogs and cats can get cancer, too. The difference is that humans are encouraged to see their doctors regularly for important annual cancer screenings and tests to diagnose and treat cancer early.
Your pets, on the other hand, are relying on you to be their advocate. Annual visits to your pet’s veterinarian can detect cancer early so that a treatment plan can be designed. Just like with humans, the earlier that cancer is detected, the better the outcome.
Here are some cancers that can affect your pets:
Melanoma is known as skin cancer in humans, but this common type of cancer in dogs can appear in places beyond just the skin, such as lips, eyes, and toenail beds. Melanoma is the most common malignant tumor that occurs inside a dog’s mouth, so pay attention if you suspect pain is preventing your dog from eating.
Lymphoma cancers can occur in dogs and cats of any age, breed, or gender. They are cancers of the lymphocytes, which is a type of white blood cell, and lymphoid tissues, which are present in many locations in the body, such as the lymph nodes, bone marrow, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
This includes the stomach, intestines, and liver. Pets with lymphoma tend to have diarrhea, weight loss, or decreased appetite. There are more than 30 types of canine lymphomas, all which vary in aggressiveness and survival rates. Cats with lymphoma tend to respond well to chemotherapy, with most felines even experiencing remission.
Whenever you’re considering treatment, it’s important to be aware of the side effects. Feline chemotherapy side effects can include loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, lethargy (tiredness), or infection. Cats do not lose their fur during chemotherapy treatment, but they can lose their whiskers and acquire a different texture to their fur.
Cats living with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and those with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are at higher risk of developing lymphoma, so keep your cats indoors, where they won’t catch those viruses from other cats.
Osteosarcoma refers to bone cancer. It can affect dogs of any breed, but it is more commonly diagnosed in the legs of larger breeds, such as golden retrievers, German shepherds, greyhounds and Irish setters.
In cats, osteosarcoma can appear in the skull, pelvis, ribs, or leg bones. Osteosarcoma is a very painful cancer. Besides limping, a pet with bone cancer will be lethargic and will not have an appetite.
Hemangiosarcoma is a fast-spreading, highly malignant cancer that occurs in dogs more often than cats.
Because it is related to blood vessels, this cancer spreads rapidly and causes tumors to occur almost anywhere in the dog’s body, often in the heart and spleen. Hemangiosarcoma is usually advanced before it is diagnosed.
Breast cancer — i.e., mammary cancer — can occur in dogs and cats. Most mammary tumors are malignant, meaning they have the potential to spread to other parts of the pet’s body.
Surgically removing the tumor is the most effective treatment for mammary cancer and should be done as soon as possible to keep the cancer from spreading. If the mammary cancer is diagnosed early, when the tumor is small, complete surgical removal might even cure your pet of the cancer.
Breast cancer tumors are far more prevalent in unspayed female cats and dogs, so the best way to decrease the chances of your dog or cat suffering from mammary cancer is to have your female pet spayed.
Even though this condition ends with the suffix “oma,” which can bring about worries of cancer, it’s important to note that “oma” means tumor. Not all tumors are cancerous. The way to diagnose a tumor as being harmless is to have your veterinarian draw a sample of the tumor’s contents using a needle.
He or she will then examine the tumor under a microscope, which is known as a biopsy. In this case, a lipoma is a tumor that consists of fat cells, not cancer cells. Lipomas are generally benign (not harmful), although they can be fast-growing, which can cause your dog some physical discomfort. If a large lipoma obstructs your pet’s movements, your veterinarian might recommend having the tumor surgically removed.
These are just some of the cancers that dogs and cats can get during their lifetimes. As a proactive pet parent (you rock!), it’s important to take your pets to their veterinarian every year — twice a year once they become seniors — for routine examinations that check for tumors and other evidence of cancer.
Pet insurance for cancer care is covered when using Figo Pet Insurance, underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company. Our insurance coverage for your best friend includes cancer diagnostic testing, visits to see veterinary specialists, imaging and X-rays, surgeries to remove tumors, and prescription drug medications.
Remember that cancer coverage is subject to all terms and conditions of the policy, including the pre-existing condition exclusion. So, it’s important to insure your pet before he or she gets sick.
Our insurance plans are flexible, so you can customize one to specifically fit the needs of the cats and dogs in your household.
Our robust coverage reimburses up to 100% of your eligible expenses once you meet your deductible.
Our extensive pet healthcare coverage includes services and treatments from any licensed veterinarian, emergency pet hospital, and veterinary specialist, worldwide.
We hope your pets never get cancer — but if they do, Figo Pet Insurance will help protect you financially, so your pet has the best chance at a long and healthy life. Get started today.