Saturday, May 9, 2015

May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

This is a fact of which I am painfully aware. We helped our Sweet Sugar to the Rainbow Bridge last May due to lung cancer that had spread from her mammary cancer. And just three months ago, our beloved Chai made her journey after an eighteen month battle with lymphoma.

In my humble opinion, every month is pet cancer awareness month. In fact every day is pet cancer awareness day. Because cancer doesn't wait until any particular month to strike. As pet parents, the more we know about the cancers that can affect our pets, the better equipped we are to recognize the signs and take action. 

Taking action does not necessarily mean surgery or chemotherapy. In fact it might mean nothing more than providing palliative care and giving the final gift of release from pain when it is time for your pet to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

But just like with us, the earlier you catch cancer, the better the odds of fighting it. As a pet parent who has fought the C Monster with everything I had, I encourage you to know the signs and be proactive in noticing them:

  • Give your pet a monthly Sugar Rub! to check for mammary tumors. 
  • Do an overall head to tail exam each month to feel for any lumps or bumps.
  • Do a visual examination - see anything suspicious on his/her skin, ears or nose? Notice any discharge or unusual odors from his/her nose, mouth or other body area? Are there any wounds that aren't healing?
  • Tune in to his/her physical activity - has it changed? Is s/he coughing or having difficulty breathing?
  • Has your pet lost weight? Weigh him/her monthly and record it in a notebook.
And what if you find something? Does it mean your pet has cancer? Maybe. But maybe not. All of these signs could be something else. And God help you, I hope it is something else. But you won't know if you don't get it checked out. Waiting won't make it better and you just might miss an opportunity to help your pet beat cancer.

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