By Dr. Andrew Jones
Cancer, or neoplasia is one of the most feared diseases and diagnoses among dog and cat owners; unfortunately the incidence is on the rise leaving pet owners with many questions about why this is happening, and what they can do to prevent it.
The definition of cancer is of abnormal cells which divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymphatic systems. Cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. When cells become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells. However, sometimes this process goes wrong; there are mutations in which cells do not die when they should and new cells form when the body does not need them. These extra cells may form a mass of tissue called cancer or a tumor. There are more than 100 different types of cancer, and the cancers are named for either the organ they affect, or the type of cell which they start in.
The exact cause of cancer is unknown, but environment also plays a big role with exposure to smog, herbicides, and insecticides being contributing factors. Vaccines have been implicated, along with food; preservatives and other chemical additives may also contribute to causing cancer. Clearly there is also a genetic component as we are seeing increased incidence within certain breeds, and some breeds now have a shorter lifespan due to cancer.
Vaccinate for only what is absolutely necessary for your dog or cat. A limited vaccine program is highly recommended – and is especially important if your companion belongs to any of the breeds known to be more susceptible to cancer and chronic diseases. In pets, vaccines continually stimulate the immune system – in an older cat or dog this may bring on undesirable effects and many researchers have wondered about the increased frequency of vaccines over the past 30 years and increased incidence of cancer in pets. The bottom line: only vaccinate your pet for diseases they are likely to get if not vaccinated, and only give the vaccine boosters as often as needed. As a generality, most pets can go without any vaccines past the age of 10.
I encourage you to look at supplementing your pet’s diet with nutrients that may play a role in cancer prevention. In people the general advice is to eat a diet including far more fruits and vegetables; the studies have shown that this simple change can reduce the risk of many cancers by 30-50%. In dogs and cats we are typically not feeding anything fresh, instead hoping that the supposed dry and ‘nutritious’ kibble contains all that they need.
Antioxidants are substances which protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals; these are unstable molecules formed during normal cellular reactions. Most scientists tend to agree that free radical damage may lead to cancer. Antioxidants work by stabilizing these free radicals, preventing cell damage, and then cancer. There are many different antioxidants, such as vitamins A,C,E, selenium, lutein, beta-carotene, lycopene, and even green tea.
Heal Your Pet At Home!
Dr Andrew Jones, DVM
P.S. Hopefully your dog or cat never develops cancer- it’s one of those diseases I never liked diagnosing in practice.
But your dog or cat will have regular veterinary conditions, and you should be able to provide some basic care at home.
Here’s is where to start..
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