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Mammary Tumors

Did you know that dogs and cats can develop mammary cancer too?

Mammary tumors are more common in female dogs, but rarely occur in male dogs or cats of either gender. Dogs are at higher risk of developing mammary tumors if they are not spayed, or if they were spayed after the age of two. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), more than 25% of unspayed female dogs will develop mammary tumors at some point in their life. The ACVS also states that a canine mammary tumor has a 50% chance of being malignant. The good news is that malignant mammary tumors in dogs are not always fatal. Removal of the tumors is usually enough to eliminate the cancer, if the cancer is caught in time. However, it is possible for mammary cancer to spread to other areas of the body, which reduces the chance of recovery. Cats have a much lower chance of developing mammary tumors than dogs, but 85% of feline mammary tumors are malignant.

At House Paws, three of our beloved pups have had mammary tumors, and all three had the tumors surgically removed. Rosa and Pearl’s tumors were benign, but Miss Angie Lou’s tumors were malignant. Lucky for her, she had some wonderful humans taking care of her! Rosa, Pearl and Angie were all rescue dogs that were spayed later in life.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends that all adult women perform breast self-exams on a monthly basis to check for any abnormalities. Our female canine and feline friends can’t do the same, so next time you perform a self-exam, give your furry female family members a quick exam too!

Perform a Self-Check

So how do you check your female dogs and cats for mammary tumors? It’s as simple as giving them a nice belly rub! Most mammary tumors can be felt just under the surface of the skin, so feel for any lumps on your dog or cat’s abdomen. Any concerning lumps will often feel irregular and firm. It’s an easy check to perform, and your pets won’t even know what you’re doing.

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