Posted on December 8, 2015: As infrequent as it sounds, breast cancer is commonly found in both female cats as well as dogs. This type of cancer as the name suggests, is formation of tumor in the mammary glands. Researchers observed that cats have a higher chance of developing tumors that are malignant i.e. cancerous, of about 80% to 90%, while dogs have a 50% chance of developing tumors in their lifetime.
Older felines are more prone to malignancy than dogs and often have several glands affected at the same time. If not treated in time, the cancer can also spread to the lungs and other vital parts of the body.
Causes of Cancer
The exact cause of breast cancer is still unknown however hormones are known to play a major role. The cancer is commonly seen in unspayed pets and hence it is important to get your pet spayed before they get their first or second heat cycle. Although not specifically proven, sometimes chemicals, preservatives and synthetic colors used in your pet’s food can also cause certain health problems.
Poodles, dachshunds and spaniels are at a higher risk of developing malignant tumors, and in cats, Oriental breeds such as Siamese and domestic shorthairs are at higher risk.
Initial symptoms may include development of a bump near the mammary glands and nodules around the nipple, inflammatory skin and sometimes discharge from one or more mammary glands. As soon as you feel a lump on your pet’s skin immediately consult your vet about the problem. The vet can then diagnose your pet using surgical biopsy and can detect which area is affected. However, it’s not always easy to feel and realize whether your pet has developed a lump or not and therefore it is recommended to get your pet checked regularly, especially if you are a pet parent to a cat(s).
A surgical treatment for the removal of cancer tissues is the most effective cure. The surgery is carried out depending on the number of glands that are affected. If glands of both the sides are affected then the surgery is performed in parts, giving the pet some time to recover from the first treatment. In extreme and rare cases, chemo or radiation therapy is suggested so as to prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. Check up at regular intervals after the treatment is necessary to ensure that the pet doesn’t get affected again.
There is no definite or solid method to prevent your pet from developing breast cancer, however getting your pet spayed before they get their first heat cycle definitely reduces the chances of cancer in comparison to those pets who get spayed when they are much older, recommend veterinarians. “Dogs spayed before their first heat cycle have only a .5 percent risk, or virtually no risk, of developing mammary cancer,” writes Dr. Ken Tudor on petsMD.com. “The risk increases to 8 percent when spayed after the second heat. By 2.5 years of age, spaying offers no decreased risk benefit. This argues for early spaying, since mammary tumors are very common.”