Because pets get cancer too, and it is not just the old ones. I remember my 10 year old son Thomas coming to me one morning saying

“Dad, Bartok has got a big lump on his neck”.

Bartok was our 9 month old Viszla puppy. Viszlas have very short coats and I was handling him all the time. No way he had a big lump that I hadn’t seen!

“Don’t be silly, Thomas”

“He has! It’s as big as the end of my thumb”.

And indeed he had. It was about 1.5cm in diameter and had an oozy surface. It didn’t really look like a cancer. I took him with me into Halifax, collected a sample of cells from inside the lump by inserting a very fine needle, spread the cells on a microscope slide and coloured them with special cell dyes. Viewed through the microscope the diagnosis was clear. This was a mast cell tumour and by its rapid growth likely a very malignant one. That was confirmed by the pathologist after surgery. Fortunately the mass was high on the left side of Bartok’s neck so the tumour could be removed with wide margins around and below it. Bartok had plenty of spare skin for closing the saucer sized hole and he lived a long and happy life.

Yes, our pets get cancer too and because they have a shorter lifespan cancer can appear much more quickly than you expect in your dog or cat. Please take 4 minutes to remind yourself of these 10 key signs of cancer in your pet.

If your dog or cat is showing any of these signs book a visit with us and we will check it out. With cancer early detection gives your pet the best chance for a successful outcome. Grandma was right when she said “A stitch in time saves nine!”

Cancer can take many forms and dogs in particular can develop many lumps in or under the skin. About 90% of these are benign meaning that they are typically harmless. But that still leaves 10% that are harmful or dangerous. How can you know which is which? That is where a tumour map comes in. Think of this as a Mole Map for your pet.

We insert a very fine needle into the lump to collect a sample of cells. We put this on a glass slide, colour the cells with special dyes and examine the slide under the microscope at high power. Most of the time we can identify right away just what the lump is. If it is malignant – a cancer that will grow or spread quickly – we will discuss the best course of action with you. More than 50% of malignant skin and subcutaneous (under the skin) cancers can be cured by surgery. Early detection boosts that percentage.

Benign lumps still need action. We (usually) don’t have to remove them but we do need to chart them on a tumour map so we know which lumps have been tested. You are emailed a copy of this so you also know which lumps we have tested and identified. Now you can regularly check if new lumps develop and monitor if charted lumps are growing in an unexpected way. Keeping your pets healthy is a partnership between us.

If you find a lump on your pet or one of the 10 signs of cancer take action! Grandma also said “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” but when it comes to cancer she was wrong!

Our aim is to keep your pet happy and healthy for as long as possible. Use this Daffodil Day as a reminder to be vigilant about cancer in your pet.

Warm regards

Hans Andersen and the Halifax team

PS: Bartok lived a long and happy life to age 13. Lots of walks at the beach and runs in the hills. It was on one of these that he collapsed and with bleeding round his heart from a very small tumour. Brilliantly resuscitated and saved by the Halifax team but it could not be forever.