FIVE RISK FACTORS & FIVE PROTECTIVE TIPS
Hi everyone – this #WELLNESS WEDNESDAY is going to the Dogs — Literally! Because, today we’re turning our attention to Man’s Best Friend – AND Woman’s – in a discussion of a Cancer that is much more common in our pets than you may think. CANINE SKIN CANCER. Such an appropriate way to end our Blog Series for SKIN CANCER AWARENESS MONTH.
For you see, our four-legged friends are vulnerable to many of the same skin conditions and diseases that we are. In fact, skin cancer in dogs is surprisingly similar to skin cancer in humans. So, every year at this time it’s important to review this information. And, because my beloved dogs have helped me through three different cancers, including skin cancer, I try to return the favor in some small way.
Now, with every cancer – be it in humans or animals – we need to understand the CAUSES of the disease before we can protect ourselves or our pets. So, let’s get started with FIVE RISK FACTORS of which we all need to be aware:
1) HEREDITY: Some breeds are more likely to develop skin cancers than others. For example, dogs with black coats develop more melanomas in the nail beds and dogs with thin, short and light-colored coats develop more squamous cell carcinomas.
2) SUN EXPOSURE: No great surprise here. Harmful UVA and UVB rays cause damage even if most of your skin is covered in fur.
3) FEMALE HORMONES: Estrogen and Progesterone often pop up in our discussions of human cancer. But, they’re back — because these hormones also are contributing agents to canine cancer and remain culprits even for the four-legged girls.
4) SKIN INFLAMMATIONS AND LESIONS: Just like our human skin, areas in which canine skin tissue has been damaged are more susceptible to developing harmful conditions and diseases like cancer. Any change in canine skin should be checked out by your Vet. And, of course, the most vulnerable doggie body parts are those that are more exposed to the elements such as nail beds and paw pads, the mouth and muzzle, the nose and ears AND the abdomen.
5) PAPILLOMA VIRUS: Very similar to human Papilloma Virus, this condition can wreck just as much havoc with our pups. This virus causes small warts and lesions around the mouth that without treatment can lead to squamous cell tumors.
So, HOW DO WE PROTECT OUR PETS?? In the same ways that we protect ourselves! And, here are FIVE EASY TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR POOCH and help keep them safe:
1) TALK TO YOUR VET. Make sure you understand the hereditary and genetic cancer risks your dog may face based upon breed and coloring.
2) STAY AWAY FROM DOGS THAT APPEAR TO BE SICK. The best way to treat a virus is to avoid it in the first place. Papilloma and many other harmful viruses are highly contagious and spread from direct contact with an infected animal.
3) STOP EXCESSIVE LICKING. This may contribute to the development of cancer-related mutations. Remember, treat any skin inflammation, lesion or infection immediately.
4) HAVE REGULAR CHECK-UPS. Make sure you schedule an annual exam for your pup replete with a FULL-BODY inspection. AND, always visit your Vet if you notice any lump, bump, sore or discoloration on your pup’s skin.
5) PRACTICE SUN SENSE. Remember, sun sense is really just common sense. Don’t expose your pup to the hottest hours of the day and the strongest rays of the sun. Always provide a shady area for rest outdoors. And, be careful of piping hot surfaces like asphalt, sand and concrete that can burn and damage delicate paws.
And, if your pooch spends a lot of time swimming at the beach or hiking in the mountains — or in any other adventurous activity — consider these great options:
*Sun Block Clothing: Protective gear like vests and hats. These products not only block the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays but often are infused with SPF protection as well.
*Doggy Sun Screen: Yep. It’s special-made for the canine in your life. Just apply to the vulnerable areas we discussed like the nose and ears.
*Doggy Sun Glasses or Goggles: Affectionately known as DOGGLES 😊 these come in a variety of sizes and styles — all designed to please the most discerning dog divas. Great protection from sun, spray and wind.
So, there we have it. The low-down on canine skin cancer. Just as we protect our own health, please protect that of your pet. It will help insure years of togetherness for you and your pooch.
Thanks for joining me everyone! And, until next time may YOU and your BEST FRIEND stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .