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Updated May 3, 2021 – 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. Morris Animal Foundation, with your help, is working to change that.

We envision a future where all cancers are treatable, and more cures are possible. That’s why we invest in researchers around the world working toward better treatments, diagnostics and even cures for cancer.

There are also steps you can take now to help protect your pet from cancer. Here are some ways you can help your pet live a longer, healthier life:

Pet Cancer Prevention Tips:

  1. Avoid secondhand smoke. Does your pet live in a household with smokers? Evidence suggests cancer risk is increased in pets exposed to environmental tobacco. 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 diseases that are common 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. Regular checkups allow your veterinarian to perform a complete physical examination, which can identify abnormalities as well as establish a baseline that can be used for later comparisons.
  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. Make sure your pet can get out of the sun and avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight when it is strongest, around midday.
  6. Avoid exposure to asbestos. Just like people, there are reports of cancer related to asbestos exposure in animals. If removing this product from a home, keep pets away from the area for the duration of 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, in shape and helps 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. Try to keep your pets outside or in another room when using these substances.
  12. Get to know your pet. Behavior changes often signal a pet isn’t feeling well. Watch your pet, learn their likes and dislikes, and their sleeping and eating habits. A change in routine or demeanor could be an early sign of disease.

With these helpful tips, along with regular checkups with your veterinarian, you can help keep your pet as healthy as possible. And, with a gift to Morris Animal Foundation, you can also support researchers working to give us more time with the animals we love. Make your gift today!

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.