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Updated June 20, 2024 – Cancer is a word no one ever wants to hear, especially when it comes to your pet’s health. Yet, every year, more than 12 million dogs and cats are diagnosed with cancer in the United States.   

We envision a future where all cancers are treatable and more cures are possible. That’s why we invest in researchers worldwide working toward better treatments, diagnostics and, hopefully, cures.  

You can also take steps to help protect your pet from cancer. We gathered these tips from scientific publications and expert recommendations: 

  1. Avoid secondhand smoke. Do smokers live in your pet's household? Evidence suggests that pets exposed to environmental tobacco have an increased risk of cancer. Keep your home a smoke-free zone. 
  2. Monitor your pet’s weight. Research suggests that obesity is a risk factor for cancer. Feeding a poor quality or imbalanced diet also may be linked to an increase in cancer risk.  
  3. Become an expert on your pet’s breed(s). Did you know that certain breeds of dogs and cats are more prone to different diseases, including cancer? Become an expert on the common diseases in your pet’s breed.  
  4. Have regular veterinary checkups. Would you see your doctor once every five years for a checkup? Skipping a yearly checkup with your pet would be similar. During regular checkups, your veterinarian can perform a complete physical examination, enabling them to identify abnormalities and establish a baseline that they can later compare. 
  5. Avoid long-term exposure to sunlight.  As in people, light skin pigmentation, combined with lots of time outside, can increase the risk for some cancers. Ensure your pet can get out of the sun and avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight when it is most vital, around midday.  
  6. Avoid asbestos exposure. Just like people, there are reports of cancer-related to asbestos exposure in animals. If you remove this product from a home, keep pets away from the area during the process.  
  7. Add vegetables to their diet.  At least one provocative study has suggested that adding vegetables may help decrease cancer risk.  
  8. Examine your pet once a month. Look in your pet’s mouth and ears, run your hands along their body and note any changes once a month; early detection is the best way to treat many diseases, including cancer.  
  9. Avoid exposure to lawn chemicals. Keep your pet away from applied lawn products when possible. There is some evidence for an increased cancer risk in pets exposed to applied lawn chemicals.  
  10. Exercise your pet regularly. Get them moving. Regular exercise will keep your pet mentally stimulated and in shape and help lower their risk of health problems.  
  11. Avoid exposure to paints and solvents. One recently published study suggests a possible association between exposure to these chemicals and cancer. When using these substances, try to keep your pets outside or in another room.  
  12. Limit exposure to pool water and chlorination byproducts. A recently published paper suggests a link between water with high chlorine levels and bladder cancer.  
  13. Add Omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet. There is some evidence Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of cancer in dogs. 
  14. Get to know your pet. Behavior changes often signal a pet isn’t feeling well. Watch your pet, learn their likes and dislikes, and sleep and eating habits. A change in routine or demeanor could be an early sign of disease.  

Science to Save Animals  

It takes good science to sort fact from fiction regarding cancer in pets — unfortunately, a lack of funding limits cancer research. Stopping cancer starts with good SCIENCE, and science starts with YOU.  

During our annual Stop Cancer Furever campaign, we’re raising awareness and funds to support research aimed at helping our furry friends live longer, happier lives.  

Donate today and our animal-loving friends at Petco Love and Blue Buffalo will double your impact on pets. They match all gifts up to $100,000 through June 30, 2024! Together, we can Stop Cancer Furever.  

And don’t forget to download the Pet Cancer Prevention Checklist & Pet Cancer Signs as a reminder of what you can do to help prevent cancer in your pets, including 10 common warning signs of cancer in your cat or dog.