Wednesday, April 7, 2004
Protecting Your Pet: Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is a common concern among people. But we need to protect our pets from this potentially deadly disease too. Health Specialist Marilyn Mitzel shows us how and why.
For mankind and our furry friends.
Sandra Brugh, Buffy's owner, says, "It never occurred to me that the sun could affect an animal in the same way it does people."
The cold facts - skin cancer is the most common cancer among dogs and second in cats.
Dr. Jim McCoy, of the Bayshore Veterinary Clinic, says, "We see a lot of them. Some of them can be life-threatening."
South Florida's powerful sun poses an even greater threat.
"He's a sun lover like the rest of us," says Sandy Lanigan,
Skizzie's owner. "He lays on his side with his little belly exposed to the sun, so that's why he has little freckles all over his belly."
She points to his belly and says, "Right there's a spot and there's a spot."
To protect Skizzie - Sandy - applies sunscreen daily and keeps him indoors during peak hours.
And just like people some dogs are more prone to skin cancer - like Prancer because she's hairless - she's got to wear sunscreen - she's even got her own pajamas that she wears when she goes outdoors and it's sunny.
Other dogs that tend to be more prone to skin cancer have thinning hair
Or white hair - the same is true for cats.
Dobermans also tend to be more prone to melanoma - it can be very aggressive
Especially if it's between their toes or lip.
So check those areas very carefully and very often.
In fact - examine the entire body weekly.
"We see that it is growing rapidly," saysSandra. "I just, for some reason, rolled her over on her back and was petting her tummy and noticed these lumps."
"They can be anywhere," says Dr. McCoy.
Baily is undergoing a biopsy for a suspicious lump by her neck.
June Halpern, Baily's owner, says, "It was raised way high, and I thought it should be taken care of."
"A lot of these tumors look very similar," says Dr. McCoy, "the malignant ones and the benign ones."
That's why they must all be checked.
Treatment depends on the type of tumor.
Removing them - surgery - radiation or chemo can all be used.
"If it's something benign, we can get rid of it," says Dr. McCoy. "If it's something malignant, we can deal with it, so we can prevent the spread of it and try to cure it."
Ninetimes out of 10 it's not cancer - but better safe than sorry.
Sandra says, "You just have to be aware of it and keep an eye out for it."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Jim McCoy
Bayshore Veterinary Clinic