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How to Prevent Cancer in your Pet

With cancer eventually affecting an estimated 1 in 3 dogs and 1 in 5 cats, this disease should be at the top of every pet owner’s watch list. Unfortunately, not every kind of cancer can be prevented, as there is often a genetic component to the development of the disease, but making some simple lifestyle changes can give your pet a better chance of beating the statistics.

Preventing cancer in pets

Limit their exposure to chemicals– you might not think this one needs a reminder, but it’s easy to forget just how many products your pet can come into directly or indirectly around the home. Pesticides, household cleaners, and even flea and tick treatments can increase the risk of cancer. And of course, second-hand smoke is just as dangerous for your pet as it is to another human.

Keep them trim– there are many good reasons to keep your pet fit and healthy, but preventing excessive weight can also prevent their risk of developing cancer. Not only is obesity linked to several types of cancer, but calorie restriction has also been shown to reduce tumor development.

Desex early– for male pets, neutering reduces the risk of testicular and prostate cancer. For male cats, it also reduces the risk of feline leukemia virus and the feline immunodeficiency virus. For female dogs and cats, spaying before their first heat greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer. As spaying removes the uterus and ovaries, this also reduces the risk of cancer in these areas.

Be selective about vaccines– yes, vaccines are essential to protecting your fur baby from disease, but they should be tailored to your pet’s specific needs, breed and risk factors. Some vaccines have been linked to the development of fibrosarcoma at the site of the injection. There is also the danger that unnecessary vaccines will overstimulate the immune system and leave the animal more susceptible to the development of cancer.

Regular checkups – if your pet is unlucky enough to develop cancer, the sooner it is detected, the best chance they have at successful treatment and recovery. During a routine exam, your vet can check for any unusual lumps, bumps or sores and speak to you about any new symptoms.

Tips for dog owners

Consider vegetables – adding half a cup of vegetables to your dog’s meal 2-3 times a week can give them a healthy boost with added benefits.Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower contain glucosinolates, which break down to form cancer fighting compounds, as well as high levels of anti-oxidants.

Tips for cat owners

Protect them from the sun – dogs and cats of all kinds can of course develop skin cancer, but owners of white cats in particular will know just how sun-sensitive these animals can be. Depending on your local climate, consider keeping your fair-haired cat indoors during the day – especially between 10am to 4pm when the UV risk is highest.

Test for viruses - feline leukemia virus and the feline immunodeficiency virus, as well as being problematic on their own, are both potential causes of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma. Speak to your vet about having your cat regularly checked.

How to Prevent Cancer in Your Pet

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