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Cancer Prevention Tips


What would be better than curing your cat or dog’s cancer?  How about preventing it altogether?

Prevention is our first line of defense against the horrible cancer disease.  While there hasn’t been any studies or trials performed to prove you can prevent cancer in your pets, “common sense and clinical experience make a strong case for avoiding anything that exposes an animal to known carcinogens or weakens the immune system,” says Stacey Hershman, DVM, a holistic housecall veterinarian in Rockland County, New York.

It just makes sense that, like with humans, if your pets eat the right foods, get enough exercise, breathe clean air, drink clean water, and avoid harmful substances, they will live longer, happier lives.  Supplementing with immune-boosting foods is another great way to help your pet fight off cancer and other illnesses.

Why is it so important to start now, while your pet is young and healthy?

“Nowadays, more pets are protected from parasites, heartworms and viral disease,” observes Dr. Louise Murray, ASPCA Director of Medicine at Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital (BMAH). “As a result, they are living longer and developing cancer in their old age.”

Although we can no prevent all cancers, there are certain steps that can be taken by pet parents to greatly diminish their chances.  Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Spay and Neuter Your Pet
    If you spay or neuter your pet before their first heat cycle, you can significantly reduce their chances of developing a number of cancers such as mammary tumors (breast cancer), ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and testicular cancer.
  2. Quit Smoking
    Smoking around your pets, or even in a different room and then coming near them increases their chances of various forms of cancer.  When you smoke, chemicals from the cigarettes go into the air.  Some of those chemicals go directly into your pets nasal passages and lungs while land on their fur, which is later licked during cleaning and enters their mouth.  Both situations are bad as they can both increase their chances of developing various forms of mouth, throat, lung and stomach cancers.
  3. Regular Checkups
    Both cats and dogs have a knack for hiding illnesses until it is no longer possible to hide (cats especially), which is why it is important to take your pet to the veterinarian at least one a year for checkups.  This is especially important as your pet gets older and passes the 10 year mark.
  4. Observe and Report
    Watch your pet for changes in behavior and health.  While no pet is cancer proof, catching illnesses and diseases in their early stages greatly increases their chances of beating them and living a longer, healthier life.
  5. Vaccinations
    Vaccinations.. a controversial topic.  Most holistic veterinarians believe that routine vaccinations are on the top of the list of things to avoid.  At PetDCA, we can not tell anyone to get or avoid vaccinations however Dr. Hershman, a holistic veterinarian says,  “Vaccines really disrupt the immune system,” she says, “especially combination vaccines that are given annually.”  She continues, recommending “a single-dose parvovirus vaccination at age 10 to 12 weeks, followed by a single-dose distemper vaccination four weeks later and a rabies vaccination after age six months.”  It is strongly recommended by most veterinarians that you ONLY vaccinate a pet when they are healthy.  “Vaccinating a dog who’s being spayed, neutered, or treated for an injury is totally irresponsible.”
  6. Healthy Diet
    A healthy diet is the building blocks to a healthy life.  Many advocates of home-prepared diets have claimed that their animals are healthier than ones on commercial pet food because they avoid inferior quality proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.  It’s said by many that commercial pet food “may” contain a variety of toxins, highly processed grains, chemical preservatives, allergens, and carcinogens.
  7. Avoid Environmental Hazards
    Environmental hazards, such as your cleaning supplies, are major contributors to numerous illnesses, diseases, and cancers.  How?  An example:  Your cat walks across your kitchen floor which you cleaned a few hours earlier.  As he walks across the floor, he picks up chemical residue on his paws which he later licks while cleaning.  The best recommendation is to switch your home cleaning supplies to environmentally (and pet) safe products.

These are just a few helpful tips to get you started.  Speak with your veterinarian about what additional steps you can take to ensure a long and healthy life for your beloved furry friend.

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