Breast cancer isn’t exclusive to humans. This blight affects most mammal species, including your pet dog or cat. A lesser-known fact is that both genders can get breast cancer, although it’s considerably rarer in males. Sadly, women and female pets face a high risk of developing the disease.
Although cancer can strike at any time, most cases are diagnosed when the pet is between ten and eleven years old. The breed also seems to play a role. Statistically, Asian cat breeds like Persian and Siamese, among others, are more prone to the problem. In dogs, doctors find it more often in Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Poodles, Rottweilers, Spaniels, German Shepherds, and Boxers.
But what triggers breast cancer in pets?
Once again, all the factors involved are yet to be identified. However, exposure to estrogen and progesterone seems to be a big problem. Especially with pets that experienced copious amounts of the hormones while young. In other words, dogs and cats that remain unsterilized during the first few years also have a higher chance of getting breast cancer. This is due to the fact that estrogen and progesterone play a vital role in their heat cycle.
The benefits of sterilization cannot be overstated.
Not only does it prevent unwanted litters but it also greatly reduces your furry friend’s chances of getting this type of cancer. A spayed animal is no longer exposed to these hormones. Indeed, dogs that are sterilized before their first heat have a microscopic 0.5 percent chance of getting breast cancer. That’s a fantastic reduction. Once an owner passes that deadline and spays her after the first heat but before the second, her lifetime chance rises to eight percent. After the second heat, it’s 26 percent. As long as a dog remains fertile, she’ll be seven times more likely to get breast cancer, as opposed to a spayed animal.
Researchers have also identified another risk factor.
Pets that are overweight, especially those classified as obese, also fall into the high-risk category. For this reason, the correct diet and exercise are both important to help a beloved pet live a long and healthy life.
One of the most obvious ways that breast cancer is detected is when a vet or owner feels a lump on the underside of a pet’s belly. Especially when the lump is near a nipple or in the teat’s surrounding tissue. Your vet will confirm their physical examination with blood tests or x-rays. If the results are positive for the disease, more tests must be done to determine whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast. When there’s no sign of spreading, the most common and effective treatment is to remove the tumors. In the laboratory, the tumors can also reveal more about the cancer’s specifics and whether further treatment is necessary.
The good news is that breast cancer in pets is hugely preventable. A single operation before the dog or cat’s first heat can provide a lifetime cover against a tragic outcome.