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Senior Cats & Dogs

Health preserving info for your Senior Cat or Dog!

Senior Cat & Dog Info

This Pet Pick collates a series of articles that relate to older Cats/Dogs and their care. Included is information on old age diseases with Cats/Dogs, nutrition and other items of importance.


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Your Pet's Symptoms

  • Lameness, stiffness, difficulty rising or climbing stairs 
  • Limping or holding foot up 
  • Hip, joint and back pain 
  • Weak hind legs 
  • Pain with movement

Possible Causes

  • Arthritis 
  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Older pets 
  • Previous injury

Dr Cam gives Welfare Focused Information about your Senior Pet!

1. Caring for your Old Mate

2. Health Enhancers

3. Pets and Euthanasia

4. My pet Has Cancer

5. Eye Diseases in pets – a Thing to Watch

6. Arthritic diseases in dogs and cats

7. Brain Strain - Members Only

8. On Deaf Ears

9. Portly Pets

10. Ten Tooth Truths

11. Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats

12. Chronic Renal Diseases in Pets

Specific Info for Dogs

Senior DogsCushing's Disease in Dogs

Senior DogsWhat Causes a Dog to Limp?

Old Dogs with Old Brains - Podcast

Specific Info for Cats

Senior CatsA Wee problem with cats 

Senior CatsNo Bored Cats                       

Senior CatsKeeping cats content

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Pets and Cancer

Understandably, most pet owners are shocked and concerned if their veterinarian diagnoses cancer as the cause of their pet's illness.

However, there are many new advances in cancer treatment now available and the outcome is not always bad.

How Dangerous is Cancer in Pets?

Not all cancers are dangerous. Benign cancers are usually not life-threatening and don't spread. Most benign cancers appear on or in the skin and they can usually be removed safely and easily.

Malignant tumours are more serious. Malignant tumours often spread by seeding into other organs. The tumours that form from these seeds are called secondary tumours or metastases and they make the prognosis for recovery worse. Secondary tumours can appear in a variety of organs but the lungs, liver and kidneys are common sites.

For this reason, early treatment of cancers is critical.

Some tumours are classified in grades. A Grade I tumour is the least serious and many animals will recover, whilst a Grade III tumour is much more serious.

Survival rates for cancer-affected pets vary greatly. The outcome depends on many factors but the type of cancer has a major effect.

If the cancer is benign, your pet will usually be unaffected. Some of the more serious tumours are bone cancers, mast cell tumours and lymphomas but even with these cancers, advances in treatment protocols are enabling pets to live longer.

What Signs Will My Pet Show if it has Cancer?

The earlier a diagnosis is made and the recommended treatment is commenced, the more positive the prognosis and outcome will be. It is therefore important that you recognise the early signs of the cancer.

Pets with cancer often develop unusual swellings that grow in size rather than getting smaller or disappearing. Some pets develop skin blemishes or sores that will not heal. Weight loss is a common sign and this is often associated with a loss of appetite. Look for any blood loss or blood seepage from any body opening, including the nose or the reproductive tract. Some animals will have difficulty in eating or swallowing and may develop an unpleasant smell. A reduction in the ability or willingness to exercise is a common sign and some animals develop persistent lameness or stiffness. Lastly, an animal with a cancer may also have difficulty breathing and passing its urine or faeces.

How is Cancer Detected?

Your veterinarian is likely to suggest several strategies to assess your pets condition. To determine if the cancer has spread to other areas, X-rays are often needed. Sometimes your veterinarian will take a small sample, called a biopsy, from the tumour and have it analysed before suggesting treatment and it is common, and advisable, to have any lumps that are removed from your pet examined by a pathologist to determine if the tissue is malignant.

Blood tests are also advisable.

Can Cancer Be Prevented?

Mostly, we don't know what causes cancer but providing good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and a healthy environment for your pet is a good start to preventing cancer.

Having your pets desexed is also important because mammary cancer is very common in female dogs that are not neutered and testicular cancer occurs commonly enough to be another reason for having a male dog neutered.

How is Cancer Treated?

Cancers can be treated by surgical means, with chemotherapy or with radiation. Attention to the animal's diet is also important.

Surgery is an important option and its success depends on the type of tumour. With tumours that spread into local tissues, such as mast cell tumours, a large amount of tissue surrounding the cancer needs to be removed to give the best chance of a cure. Bone cancers often appear in the legs and amputation of the leg is commonly advised to prevent the spread of the tumour. Thankfully, animals lead normal lives with only three legs.

If a tumour is not able to be removed or if it has spread into other parts of the body, chemotherapy or radiation therapy is another option. Advances in chemotherapy are being made continually and it often improves the survival time of many animals. With bone cancer, chemotherapy can have a dramatic effect on the survival time.

In addition, commercially available prescription diets are now available to help pets with some types of cancer. These prescription diets are very specialised and they have been shown to increase the survival times of dogs with tumours such as lymphomas and lymphoid leukaemia when used in conjunction with chemotherapy.

If your pet has cancer, you are bound to be worried. Talk to your veterinarian as he or she will be able to help answer all your questions. If your vet feels it is necessary, he or she may suggest a referral to veterinarians who specialise in cancer treatment. Above all, don't delay seeing your vet if you feel your pet is unwell.