“As a holistic veterinarian, I don’t view cancer as a mysterious disease that attacks the body. It’s the ultimate manifestation of ill health. It’s what happens when the body’s immune system, under siege for too long, at last surrenders, letting cell growth go awry. To me, it’s clear that more and more pets are getting cancer and other degenerative diseases because they’re being hit with more and more toxins that eventually mutate their genes, weakening successive generations.”-Martin Goldstein, D.V.M.
Cancer accounts for nearly 50% of all pet related deaths each year, according to Veterinary Oncology & Hematology Center. It is a growing problem for both people and their beloved pets. As a pet owner, I have experienced a cancer related death of our Golden Retriever, who passed away at 8 years old. One day, he suddenly collapsed on the floor and we later found out his body was flooded with cancerous tumors. We had no idea. Cancer is devastating and scary. So what can we do about it? I have compiled a list of symptoms to look out for and also proven triggers of cancer in our pets that you can avoid.
Early Pet Cancer Warning Signs, As Identified By The Veterinary Cancer Society.
1. Persistent, abnormal swelling
2. Sores that do not heal
3. Loss of weight
4. Loss of appetite
5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
6. Offensive odor
7. Difficulty eating or swallowing
8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
9. Persistent lameness or stiffness
10. Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
It is important to take your pet to a vet if you notice any of the above symptoms. Yes, we live in a world where you may “Google” everything, but just like trying to diagnose yourself on WebMD (not a good idea and yes, I have done it :)), don’t scare yourself unnecessarily by trying to diagnose your pet too. Let the veterinarian examine your pet.
Here are some of the proven causes of cancer:
1. A diet that is poor. The amount of carcinogenic substances in our pet foods is disturbing. Feeding a suitable carnivorous diet to our dogs is one step we can take to helping their health. To learn more about this you may go to a previous post on Decoding Pet Food Labels, here.
2. Toxic chemicals in the environment. For example, lawn fertilizers, detergents, and cleaners are all found in homes and can be toxic. Reading labels is crucial. I take this a step further with our water supply. Research the tap water quality in your area. This is important information for both humans and pets.
3. Over-vaccinating. It has now been proven that over vaccinating can actually produce a weakened immune response in our pets. For example, cats can now suffer from a specific type of feline cancer called Vaccine Induced Fibro Sarcoma. It develops at the vaccine site on your pet’s skin as a direct side effect of over-vaccination. I am not against the necessary vaccines in puppies and kittens, but please do your research on annual vaccination.
4. Genetics. While my family and I could beat ourselves up for giving our precious Golden Rimadyl and feeding a crappy commercial dog food, we also didn’t know at the time that it was bad. Over 80% of Golden Retrievers die from cancer. Improper breeding practices have increased the risk of cancer in popular breeds, like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Rottweilers to name a few. If you decide to buy from a breeder, ask questions about their lineage and history. Responsible breeders will gladly share this information with you.
Cancer is an enemy to people and our pets. I hope that this information is helpful. If you would like to learn more about holistic health for your pet, I strongly suggest this book, The Nature of Animal Healing, by Martin Goldstein, D.V.M.
“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.”-Herbert Spencer
Post Written by: Laura Neiheisel