Cancer Bites: Breast Cancer Affects Pets Too!

It is once again, October, and Breast Cancer Awareness is on our minds. The unfortunate reality is that breast cancer afflicts both canine and feline patients as well as humans.

adorable animal breed canine

There are some key differences in how we understand this disease in our furry friends…  

  • We are keenly aware that the likelihood of a cat or dog developing mammary cancer is greatly affected by the number of heat cycles they have experienced.
  • Whether or not they have actually had a pregnancy or litter does not seem as important as the actual number of heat cycles.
  • In dogs, research suggests that un-spayed female dogs, once they reach 8 years of age, have a 25% chance of developing mammary cancer.
  • Unlike people, our dogs and cats have significantly more mammary tissue.
    • They average a total of 8 mammary glands which extend from their front legs to their groin on the entire underside of the chest and abdomen.
    • This increases the sites for cancer to develop.  It also allows for the greater spread of disease within the entire mammary chain.
      • Mastectomy, removal of the mammary tissue, is accordingly an even more radical procedure in dogs and cats than it is in people.  A 1-2 foot incision length could be expected.

pet cute fur animals

Fortunately, though, we do know that early spaying of female dogs and cats makes the chances of breast cancer developing almost a non-issue.  Spaying your pet before its first heat cycle can be completely preventive to dogs and cats developing breast cancer!  Also, spaying as soon as a pet is done breeding is also a huge step in limiting future mammary cancer development.

If you have chosen a female dog or cat to be part of your family, be sure to discuss with your veterinarian all the potential risks and benefits of spaying and decide what is the best plan to limit your pet’s potential risk of developing mammary cancer.

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our staff is dedicated to educating our clients and the public about the risks of Canine and Feline Breast Cancer. Throughout the month you may see any number of our staff members rocking their Breast Cancer Awareness t-shirts!


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