We all want our pets to be happy and healthy. Naturally, a sick pet is financially and emotionally stressful for the entire family. Likewise, an unexpected cancer diagnosis can leave pet owners feeling unsure of what the future holds. In honor of National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to provide a resource guide to pet owners. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about the importance of pet cancer awareness for the health of your furry friends.
How pet cancer awareness can help your furry family members
How is a pet diagnosed with cancer?
A cancer diagnosis is scary for all involved. Nold weighs in on how a diagnosis can occur and how it may differ depending on the type of cancer.
“How a pet is diagnosed with cancer depends somewhat on the type of cancer, as some types of cancer present with a mass and others do not. Also, some masses are located externally like on the skin or in the mouth and can be more easily examined. Conversely, other masses are located internally, like in the chest or abdomen, and may require advanced imaging, like an ultrasound or MRI. After identifying a mass often the next step is to take a small sample to look at under a microscope to help determine whether the mass is benign or cancerous. Sometimes this small sample isn’t diagnostic and the mass may be surgically removed and submitted for a pathologist to identify. Further, for types of cancer where a mass is not easily found, they’re usually diagnosed based on findings from blood work. However, sometimes other diagnostics, like getting a sample from the bone marrow, may be necessary.”
Each diagnosis is different depending on the pet. For example, some pets have a one-step diagnosis while other pets require further testing and analysis. Regardless of the diagnostic outcome, the advancements available in veterinary medicine help provide remission for many pets.
Consider the following:
Signs of cancer in pets
While the signs of cancer may vary from pet to pet, any change in your pet’s behavior or sign of discomfort merits seeking medical care. For example, “the signs of cancer depend on the type of cancer,” says Nold.
If your pet is experiencing any of
these medical signs, please seek the expertise and guidance of your veterinarian.
on the skin
Trupanion and pet cancer claims
down with Trupanion’s data team to further look at cancer pet claims in our
“Dempsey faced an even greater challenge- cancer. Once again, we filed claims to cover her diagnosis, surgery, and ultrasound, and Trupanion paid the claims quickly. We are so thankful that we decided to purchase a Trupanion policy to help ease those heart-wrenching decisions regarding the care of our irreplaceable Dempsey,” Patty H, Trupanion member since 2016
The importance of a family support
system when a pet is diagnosed with cancer
For example, “as with any illness that requires expensive and long-term care it is important to have a support system in place for you as the primary caretaker. Often, just having someone you can talk to who knows what your beloved pet is going through can help. Also, some treatments may require giving multiple medications a day and frequent trips to your veterinarian for rechecks. Because of this, this may mean sometimes you’ll need help with medication administration or drop-off and pick-up from your veterinarian,” states Nold.
A treatment plan for your pet
Not every pet will have the same treatment plan. Also, a treatment plan is unique to each’s pet’s cancer diagnosis. Nold weighs in on what to expect on the best course of action for your furry friend.
“The best course of treatment in terms of ‘gold standard’ can only be determined after the type of cancer (as well as the stage/grade of cancer in some cases) has been diagnosed. Some types of cancer can be treated with only surgical removal and others may require more extensive treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In some cases, your veterinarian may refer your pet to an oncology specialist. Ultimately the best course of treatment also depends on your pet, in some cases you and your veterinarian may decide the ‘gold standard’ for treatment may not be tolerated by your pet or isn’t available locally.”
Pet cancer awareness: essential for
the health and wellness of your furry family member
Any medical condition diagnosis is stressful for pet owners. Naturally, a cancer diagnosis is no different. Most importantly, letting your pet know you’re there and give them all the love and support can mean everything to them. But under the expertise and guidance of your veterinarian, a family support system, and an early diagnosis can help your help get to remission in the future.
is a digital content writer and editor for Trupanion. She spends her workday writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, being inspired by pets, and luckily gets to hang out with her rescue dogs all day long. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work has been featured on the DOGTV blog, KitNipBox blog, Get Your Pet blog, Fansided, among many others.