Jun 01 2015

Preventing Cancer

Prevention is always a better option, no matter what the problem. It’s usually easier, less expensive and certainly less painful. That’s never been more true than when it comes to cancer.

While cancer is more treatable than ever before, veterinarians also now know more about what steps can be taken to help prevent the dreaded disease.

To reduce the risk of cancer in your pet:

  • Make sure your dog has good nutrition, weight-management and plenty of exercise. Help your dog to maintain a fit body for life. A fit dog will have a wasplike waist and a tucked-in abdomen.
  • Feed your dog a high-quality diet made by a reputable company or a home-prepared diet prepared with the help of your veterinarian. Start with the amount of food recommended for your dog and adjust accordingly with how your pet’s body responds. Cut down on extra calories by substituting baby carrots as treats or by adding volume to meals with green beans.
  • Consider adding omega-3 fatty acids (also known as n-3, found in fish oils and other sources) to potentially reduce the risk of developing cancer. Get regular exercise, and you and your dog will benefit with greater health and a closer, more vibrant relationship.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Spaying and neutering have been shown to be an effective method of preventing cancer. Spaying has a significant impact on preventing breast cancer if it is done before a dog goes into her first heat cycle. Discuss the timing and the options with your veterinarian, though: Waiting to alter until later, especially in breeds prone to bone cancer, is worth considering for some male dogs — although the majority of pets are better off neutered.
  • Choose clean living for your dog. Eliminate exposure to environmental carcinogens such as pesticides, coal or kerosene heaters, herbicides, passive tobacco smoke, asbestos, radiation and strong electromagnetic fields. Each one of these factors has been suggested to increase the risk of cancer in your dog (and in you).

You may do everything you can and still end up with a cancer diagnosis for your pet. Don’t despair. Cure rates and an improved quality of life are increasing because families are working with veterinarians to identify the disease in its initial stages and to employ new technologies that are highly effective in the early stages of cancer care.

Even for those dogs who cannot be cured, most who are treated are still able to enjoy an improved, robust life. In most situations, animals undergoing cancer treatment experience limited to no decrease in their quality of life.

Almost all dogs with cancer can be helped, and you can defeat the darkness of cancer with knowledge. Work with your veterinary team to learn as much about the disease and its treatment as possible. Be proactive. Ask questions and obtain resources to tear away the many misconceptions about cancer and cancer therapies. Tackling the emotional aspects of cancer can enhance your ability to think clearly, make decisions, and begin to find the hope and opportunities that lie before you as you deal with your dog’s cancer.

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