Detecting Animal Cancer Early

Detecting Animal Cancer Early

Angel Pet Expo Blog 2019 – Submitted by Animal Hospital North Asheville

We need your help to beat cancer! Early detection, diagnosis and treatment are critical to obtaining a positive result. Over 60% of cancers are curable. We want to get that percentage even higher. Every lump and bump is suspect until proven that it is not cancer. The time to diagnose cancer is before it has taken over and spread or before it has progressed from curable to non-curable.  We must all be proactive to defeat cancer. angel pets blog dog examine


Check your pet for lumps and bumps at least monthly. Look with your eyes and Angel Pets Blog lumpyour fingers.  Please bring even small bumps to our attention. We would like to examine nodules when they are the size of a pea or smaller.  Areas that deserve special attention are lymph nodes that are under and behind the lower jaw, in front of the shoulders, the “armpits” of the front legs,  the groin and under the tail.  It is a good idea to look for swellings or unusual paleness of the gums.  Try to feel every square inch of skin.  Cats with white ears are especially prone to cancer on the ear tips and nose.

Gently flip the lips and check in your pet’s mouth. angel pets blog dental check There are several common oral cancers that can occur. Signs include bad breath odor, lumps or swelling on the gums, pain in the mouth, increased salivation, or blood in the mouth or saliva.




Make sure that your pet has annual physical examination every year for pets up to age 7.  After age seven, consider a physical examination every 6 months.  We look for many disease indicators during those physicals, but we also palpate the abdominal organs for changes and specifically palpate lymph nodes.

Have pets examined if they display symptoms of lethargy, vomiting, increasing thirst, weight loss, decreased appetite, any abnormal discharges, or any abnormalities in urination or defecation.

Elect to run “wellness” blood tests during routine physical examinations.  Talk to your veterinarian about performing an ultrasound of your pet’s abdomen and an X-ray of your pet’s chest to detect cancer early. Pets can’t tell us that something seems wrong like people can, so doing screening test to look for early signs is important.

Don’t smoke! Recent studies show pets that live with smokers have higher levels of asthma, and have three times higher levels of lymphosarcoma and six times higher level of oral squamous cell carcinoma.

Brush your pet’s teeth regularly and make sure that your pet has a professional dental cleaning under anesthesia yearly.  Oral cancer can occur because some cells become cancerous just from exposure to a chronic irritant such as tartar, which also causes gingivitis and periodontal disease.


BENIGN GROWTHS vs CANCER:angel pets blog ahna lump

  1. Our goal is to be as low stress and as non-invasive as possible in obtaining a diagnosis.  Regardless of the location or the size of any swelling or lump, you need to know if it is malignant (cancer) or benign.
  2. Even benign growths may need to be removed early because if they grow to a large size before you take action, the surgery may be much more difficult and in certain locations may cause serious problems (benign growths around the eye, for example). It is important to remove benign growths before they require extensive surgery or otherwise become bothersome to your pet.
  3. Some growths are very easily diagnosed by fine needle aspiration. No sedation is usually needed because it is no more traumatic than a simple injection. We may evaluate the cells here or choose to submit them to a pathologist for a report within a few days, depending on the nature of the growth.
  4. Some growths require surgery to obtain a satisfactory sample (biopsy) for a pathologist.  We utilize high tech anesthesia and our post-operative pain control is thorough.
  5. Hidden” growths deep in the abdomen or the chest or within organs may be hard to find early, but they can often be identified with blood tests, palpation, ultrasound, or x-ray. In some cases, a biopsy can be obtained with light sedation to prevent any discomfort.  Our ultrasound capabilities and training are extensive, and we offer abdominal biopsies by laparoscope and noninvasive gastrointestinal biopsies with endoscopy.
  6. Once a diagnosis is made, we can tell you if the growth is benign or malignant, the scientific name of the tumor, what treatments are available and side effects (if any), the schedule of treatments, the success rates and costs of treatments. You can then decide what is best for your pet and your family.  Our goal is for families to be able to make fully informed decisions concerning health care as well as end of life issues.  We respect the individual decisions that families make.


angel pets blog cat blue green eyeThere are a wide variety of cancers that are seen in dogs and cats. While some cancers are aggressive and cannot be treated, there are treatments available for a large number of the cancers we see commonly. Early detection and treatment can improve the success rate of treatment for many cancers. Available treatments include:

  1. Surgical removal – There are many common cancerous skin tumors which can be cured or controlled with complete surgical removal. When a growth is removed, it is sent to a pathology lab to determine what kind of growth it is, how aggressive it is, and whether it was removed completely. If the fine needle aspiration shows the potential for a malignant skin growth, wide margins of normal tissue are removed along with the growth to make sure no cancer cells are left behind. If the growth cannot be removed completely, your veterinarian will discuss whether surgery would still be beneficial for comfort or as a companion to other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation.
  2. Chemotherapy – Some cancers, most notably lymphosarcoma, can be treated with chemotherapy. In veterinary medicine, the goal of chemotherapy is to provide remission while maintaining good quality of life. Unlike human medicine, our chemotherapy dosages are tailored so that chemo doesn’t make pets sick, immune suppressed, or unable to enjoy their day-to-day life. The doctors and technician staff at Animal Hospital of North Asheville are trained to administer chemotherapy safely and without stress to your pet.
  3. Oncology referral – Some cancers are complex or require treatments such as radiation that we are not able to do within our hospital. We work closely with several referral hospitals who have board-certified oncology (cancer) specialists on staff, and are happy to provide a referral for consultation, special imaging procedures like CT and MRI scans, and advanced therapies such as radiation. Our doctors frequently consult with veterinary oncologists to determine the best treatment options, costs, and prognosis.
  4. Palliative and hospice care – For patients with incurable cancers, our goal is always to keep pets as comfortable as possible and allow them to be at home with their families. We work together with pet parents to find a pain control strategy that will give the best quality of life with the fewest side effects. When the time comes, we will help you make kind and compassionate decisions.
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Death, forgiveness, the wind and healing


PSAnimal2Red Angel Pets Windsong

Angel Pets Blog article submitted by Patty Summers

Gandalf, the African Grey, keeps calling her name every morning. At first, hearing him calling her stung my heart and brought hot tears from my eyes.

He loved the mackerel tabby as much as we did.  I’d often pick up our lovely Jaylah and hold her up near Gandalf’s cage and he’d lean over and whisper something unintelligible to her (at least to my ear), but the intent of affection was quite clear.

Our animals are never old enough when they leave behind their physical bodies, but our Jaylah was only three years old when a terrible disease shut her body down.  The shock, the anger at myself for anything I could have done to catch it sooner or even prevent it ran rampant through my head.  “She was only three!”  I kept shouting angrily to the Universe.  Finally, I heard in mind, “Her body was only three years old, but the soul is so much older.”  It still hurts not having her here in physical, but somehow remembering that she is an old soul gave me some solace.

Like all of my animals she gave me so much, but perhaps the greatest of gifts right now is she left behind a deeper understanding of no need for forgiveness or what if’s.  So many times, when I do a consult with someone with the intent on helping them to make peace with their animal’s passing back into spirit, I am asked if their animal will forgive them.  Every single time I hear, “There is no need for forgiveness. There is absolutely nothing to forgive.”  Every time I hear that it takes my breath away, yet somehow, I forgot it for a brief time when Jaylah was so sick and I was pulling out the stops to try to save her body.

The treatment plan was rather extensive, but she handled it with her graceful power that she walked throughout her short lifetime.  Still I questioned if I should be putting her through it, yet logically my mind kept saying, “She is only three years old.  She can beat this.”

The day before she passed I could feel she had chosen to heal in the form of letting her worn out body go, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it.  I kept pushing that feeling away.  That feeling was her communicating what her decision was.  I wouldn’t listen.  Me the animal communicator wouldn’t listen and I kept trying to treat her body for the disease.

When she took her last breath, I was crushed and angry.  Mostly angry at myself.

Somewhere in my grief she found a way to wedge her message in.  I awoke one morning saying out loud, I forgive myself for following my heart and trying a medical treatment that was pretty heroic even though that is normally not my way. I forgive myself for those last two days that I heard you, but wouldn’t accept what you were telling me.  My actions then give me better understanding for others who have done the same. I now marvel in my appreciation of your understanding my pain and holding no judgement. You simply continued to do what you needed to do for your wholeness.

Lastly, I thank you for reminding me that l let you live a life rich and full, one where I allowed you to experience all the things you treasured.

I can slowly move forward meeting her where she is in her wholeness, brilliance, her glory as she shines on in my heart.  In this place, I can still feel her hopping up on my lap to join me for my morning coffee.  When I get out the treat jar, I can see her out of the corner of my eye, arriving before any of the other cats as she did in body.

I can almost feel her soft underbelly that she would always present to me in her wonderful greetings. I’ll always remember her beautiful rich eyes.

“Jayyyylahhhh, Jayyyylahhh.” he calls softly.  Yes I can feel her too bird.

One of the most difficult parts of our journeys with us and our beloved animals, is when they make their physical transition back into spirit. 

I wanted to create a means of support for other animal lovers to help them through this process.  For me, the wind is a carrier of energies and messages and songs a beautiful sacred story that touches the soul.

Thus, Windsongs of the Soul Animal Flags, came to be.

Pet Memorial Flags – Beautiful handmade flags to honor your animal and the love between you that never dies. The flags hold special spiritual symbols with the main flag, personalized with your beloved animal’s name, birth date and passing, being flanked by a paw and feather charm and the back of this flag offering a pocket for ashes, fur or some other special symbol.

Come by my booth at the Angel Pets Expo 2019 in Asheville, NC June 8th, 2019 to see these beautiful handmade flags in person that honor your animal and the love between you that never dies. 


Author of Talking With the Animals, Patty Summers, is an internationally known animal communicator and currently provides communication workshops as well as consultations for animals and their human companions to resolve conflicts or to aid in communication.

You can also visit for more on the Windsong flags and other books, DVDs and CDs.

This article was submitted by Patty Summers for the Angel Pets Expo Blog. Visit for more information.

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