Did you know that November is National Pet Cancer Awareness MonthCancer not only strikes humans but it also strikes pets.  You will probably be surprised to know that cancer is the fourth most common type of medical claim received by pet insurance companies.

If you have ever had a pet that had cancer then you know that the cancer can be hard to treat and often times it is fatal.  Just like with humans, the key to successful treatment is to find the cancer early.  Have you ever wondered what the signs of canine cancer are?  If so, this is what you should be looking for:

  • Persistent swellings that are abnormal or continue to grow
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Body openings that are bleeding or that have a discharge
  • Offensive odor
  • Eating and/or swallowing are difficult
  • Loss of energy or stamina and doesn’t want to exercise
  • Lameness or stiffness that won’t go away
  • Breathing, urinating and/or defecating are difficult

If your pet has any of these symptoms then you should visit your vet.  Of course, something besides cancer can be wrong with your pet but it is always a good idea to have the symptoms checked out.

There have been big advances in pet cancer treatment recently.  Many dogs that have been diagnosed with cancer can live comfortable, healthy lives for years after their treatment depending on the type of cancer.

Cancer treatments can be expensive and because of this, a lot of pet owners can’t afford the cancer treatments.  I can personally speak to how expensive cancer treatments can be.  Our Lab, Summer, was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2008.  I pulled out the invoices that we saved.  Keep in mind, these are only the ones we saved.  There were more but for some reason we didn’t save those.  The invoices looked like this:

Labrador Retriever Dog Breed

This is Summer before she was diagnosed with cancer.  She is on the left.  Scout is the big boy on the right!

  • $1,000.00
  • $207.61
  • $984.66
  • $23.80
  • $827.74
  • $190.00

That didn’t even include all the medications that she was on which included Prednisone, Clavamox, Azathioprine, Ursodiol and Clopidogrel.  She was also taking Vitamin E and Milk Thistle.  Of course, you might say we were crazy to spend that kind of money on a dog and maybe we were, but Summer had become a part of our family and if anything could be done we were going to do it.  In retrospect, maybe we should have let Summer cross over the Rainbow Bridge without performing all the tests and medical procedures.  But there was a glimmer of hope that we could save her and if that was possible, I was going to do what I could.  She did start to improve and her blood tests were coming back better, but all of a sudden she took  a turn for the worse and we had to let go.  Summer and I became very close in those last few months.  I made all her food and took her with me everywhere if I had to be gone.  She became my constant companion and her mine.  I was devastated when she passed but at the same time I knew she was in a better place.

Dog Cancer

Summer after she had been diagnosed with cancer. She had lost a lot of weight and was much skinnier.

We didn’t have pet insurance but we were lucky enough that we could afford the treatments.  It was an expensive process but I would not have done anything different.  She was diagnosed in April of 2008 and crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in October of 2008.

Because there are many illnesses that our pets can come down with unexpectedly it is a good idea to have pet insurance.  By having pet insurance you can explore all of the treatment options and make the best decision for your dog’s health.  If you have a good pet insurance, it will cover 90% of the cost of treatment and medication.  You can get a free quote and who knows…pet insurance might not cost as much as you might think!


Filed under: Cancer in Dogs

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