Like humans, animals can suffer from cancer. Mastocytoma, lymphomas, mammary tumor, Dr. Charlotte Lechat, veterinarian, details the diseases that can affect dogs and cats.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture, one in two French households has at least one pet. Dogs, cats, rodents, fish, small mammals, birds, reptiles, each family has its own companion. According to figures from the Federation of Animal Feed Manufacturers, the country has more than 14 million cats, about 8 million dogs and 32 million fish. When it comes to their loyal companion, the French are ready to grab the wallet.
In September 2020, the digital platform ProntoPro took an interest in owners’ budgets for taking care of their pets. If the bill varies according to the size of the animal, a medium-sized dog would represent an average annual budget of 1,150 euros. Unsurprisingly, the veterinary expenses arrive at the top of the podium (vaccines, consultations, etc.).
Expenses which are particularly high during the first year of the animal, because it is then necessary to vaccinate it, to identify it with an electronic chip, sometimes to sterilize it, etc. Like humans, animals can suffer from a large number of more or less serious diseases requiring costly and sometimes invasive care. Often difficult for owners to detect, the cancer remains the pathology that worries the most. Obviously, every cancer is different and manifests itself in different ways.
Pay attention to general signs
“It is fundamental to always take into account general condition of the animal. A dog or cat that no longer eats, that loses weight, that seems tired, that has lost vitality are all signs that should prompt you to consult your veterinarian quickly in order to determine the origin of the problem, ”explains Dr. Charlotte Lechat. , veterinarian.
In addition, the advanced age of an animal can also be a factor to take into account. More broadly, all behavior changes where the physical changes (loss of overweight, appearance of the coat, etc.) must be taken seriously and require a check-up in order to allow the veterinarian to make a precise diagnosis. As in humans, cancer in animals can affect all organs and affects all animals. Whether in dogs or cats, some cancers are more common than others.
Common cancers in dogs
First of all, there are cancers that show up more often in doggies. Starting with the mastocytome. This skin cancer is quite common in dogs. “Mast cells are skin cells of the white blood cell family. By proliferating rapidly, they can mutate into cancer cells and then form a cancerous tumor of the skin or subcutaneous tissue. This cancer is particularly present in certain breeds of dogs such as the Boxer or the Golden Retriever, ”explains the veterinarian. These skin masses develop mainly on the trunk of animals, on the limbs, on the lips, etc.
Dogs can also suffer from lymphomas and, in this case, all lymph nodes can be infiltrated by tumor cells. There too, certain breeds are more at risk such as the Boxer, the Golden Retriever, the Saint Bernard, etc. “If lymphoma is suspected, the veterinarian takes a tissue sample before having it analyzed in a specialized laboratory,” says Dr Lechat.
Watch out for breast tumors!
In bitches, we must be vigilant breast tumor which forms on the udders. In question ? The abnormal multiplication of cells. Bitches have two mammary chains each made up of five glands, the tumor can affect one chain or both. “Females are particularly at risk of developing breast tumors. When possible, the veterinarian removes the mammary chain in order to eliminate the tumor, ”explains Dr Lechat. This form of tumor turns out to be the most common in females unsterilized because of its hormonal character. Although it remains extremely rare, the male can also suffer from this form of cancer. When this tumor is identified early enough and, depending on the aggressiveness, it can be relatively well managed by the veterinarian.
Another possible malignant tumor in dogs, the hémangiosarcome. This cancerous tumor grows in the lining of blood vessels. Very aggressive, it is often responsible for the rapid onset of metastases. It appears most frequently in an animal that is at least six years old. Depending on the location and the level of aggression, it can manifest itself through certain symptoms: weight loss, bleeding, weight loss, anemia, etc. Detected in time, the tumor can be removed to prevent it from spreading to other organs.
In the Bernese Mountain Dog, another cancer is relatively common, it is the histiocytic sarcoma originating from the proliferation of cells of the immune system. “This form of cancer can affect many organs such as the spleen, liver, lungs, etc.”, lists Dr Lechat.
Common cancers in cats
Regardless of the tumor and the animal, faced with the slightest doubt, the professional will use the same tools (blood test, biopsy, scanner, x-ray) in order to make the most precise diagnosis possible. While dogs are at risk for cancer, so are cats.
The lymphoma accounts for two thirds of all feline cancers. More specifically, digestive lymphoma is the most common form. “This lymphoma mainly affects cats from adulthood to senior. In addition, felines carrying the leukosis virus also have a predisposition to suffer from it. But, like cats hide always showing their clinical signs, it is not easy to detect the presence of a tumor early, ”explains Dr Lechat. Thus, we must remain attentive to all changes in behavior: food, energy, weight loss, digestive disorders, skin lesions, etc.
White cats, particularly at risk?
In cats, the squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 17 to 25% of skin tumors. This tumor mainly affects older cats and manifests itself on the face, ears and nose. Carcinoma particularly affects cats with light coats, that is to say with a depigmented coat. Some veterinarians even recommend using sunscreen on the ears of cats with white coats, when the cat spends long days outdoors and there is strong sunlight, to protect them from UV rays, which is partly to blame. this type of cancer.
Moreover, felines can also suffer from a fibrosarcome, it is a cancerous tumor that grows under the skin. Often painless, it can develop very quickly. It affects about one in 10,000 cats. “While its origin is not well known, subcutaneous injection of the rabies vaccine had been suspected. Today, with the modification of adjuvants and the improvement of vaccines, cases of this cancer have become anecdotal ”, underlines Dr. Lechat.
Cats can also suffer from Iranian melanoma. What is it about ? “Iris melanoma is the most common eye tumor in cats. Often, the veterinarian observes the presence of pigmented spots on the iris, ”explains the veterinarian.
Finally, just like bitches, pussies are also at risk of having a breast tumor. These tumors are (very) predominantly malignant, in more than 80% of cases. “To limit the risk as much as possible, it is strongly recommended not to give birth control pills to her cat and to sterilize her from the age of six months”. As a reminder, surgical sterilization carried out before the first heat reduces the risk of the appearance of breast tumors by more than 90%.