Help keep dogs cancer free
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We all know someone around us who has been affected in one way or another by this horrible disease. Did you know that animals can be affected as well? Breast cancer and ovarian cancer are commonly diagnosed in our feline and canine patients.
Katy was a beautiful Dalmatian that was with our family for 10 years. My parents had bred her twice and she had given us two beautiful litters of puppies. She was a very loyal and devoted family dog, however my parents had never chosen to have her spayed. As she grew older, she started to develop a large mass around her mammary gland.
Our veterinarian at the time assured my parents that we did not have to worry about the mass. I still wonder to this day why this advice was given. It was only a short period of time after this diagnosis that Katy started to have breathing issues. We woke up one day to her struggling to even catch a breath. We took her to another veterinarian who diagnosed Katy with breast cancer that had spread to her lungs. Her lungs were full of fluid and it was too late to do anything. I will never forget our family all huddled around Katy as we said goodbye. And as a veterinarian I will never forget the lack of concern the first veterinarian had shown and I vow to be a much better advocate for my pets and all my clients’ pets health.
Baby, an 8-year-old Dachshund came to our clinic to be euthanized. She had a very large ulcerated mammary mass that dragged on the ground behind her. She was not spayed and upon closer examination, had smaller mammary tumors in every mammary gland. Baby looked up at me with these big brown eyes, wagged her tail at me, and I just couldn’t do it. Baby underwent a very extensive surgery to remove all the mammary tumors and was spayed at the same time. She was screened thoroughly for any spread of the cancer and fortunately she was clear of any metastasis. She has recently come back into our clinic and is currently up for adoption. Please contact the Lakeshore Humane Society if you may be interested in adopting Baby!
Did you ever wonder why your veterinarian recommends spaying and neutering your pets? Number one answer: cancer. Breast cancer can occur very commonly in unspayed pets. Spaying your pet before their first or second heat cycle reduces your pet’s chance of getting breast cancer by 90 percent.
Breast cancer in dogs and cats can be aggressive and fatal especially if not caught in time. Recently at our clinic we have seen a number of rescue pets that are turned over to the humane society with large mammary gland tumors from not being spayed. The expense associated with removing these tumors and spaying these pets can be very high. The surgery is also very involved and can cause significant scarring and prolonged healing times.
This is why we recommend spaying them at a young age before there is any chance to develop these tumors. Once breast cancer develops, it can very quickly spread to the lymph nodes and lungs. It is never too late to spay and neuter your pets.
Spaying not only reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, but it also reduces the risk of life threatening uterine infections and unwanted pregnancies.
Leaving your pet unneutered also has its risks. Unneutered dogs and cats are more prone to testicular cancer, rectal masses, enlarged prostate glands, and behavioral problems. The majority of dogs that run away and are hit by cars are unneutered male dogs. If you are not going to breed your pets, be an advocate for your pet’s health and have them spayed and neutered!
The Dunkirk Animal Clinic is offering a discount on spay surgeries for the month of October! Call and schedule your appointment at 366-7440.