May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Just like humans, our dogs, cats, and other pets can suffer from many different kinds of cancer.  Studies of canine cancer suggest that as many as half of dogs over 10 years old will develop some form of cancer.

In recognition of Pet Cancer Awareness Month, here is a list of common signs and symptoms of cancer in dogs, cats, and other animals–courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bleeding from the mouth, nose or other body openings
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty eating
  • Lumps, bumps or discolored skin

  • Non-healing wounds
  • Persistent diarrhea or vomiting
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Unexplained swelling, heat, pain or lameness
  • Visible mass/tumor

Be sure to talk to your vet if you think your pet may be experiencing one or more of these issues.   Annual veterinary wellness exams are also a good way for your vet to check for any of these signs on a regular basis.

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of veterinary cancer, including how to find a veterinary oncologist in your area, visit the pet owners section of the Veterinary Cancer Society website.


New Study Examines the Health of Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the United States for many years.  We love this kind, gentle, and loving dog…but like any purebred dog, the Lab does have some inherited health issues that all owners should know about.

A recent study of Labs in the UK took a look at the most common health and well-being issues of this popular dog.  What are the key findings?

61.6% of all Labs in the study had at least one known health disorder.  Here are the most common:

  • Otitis externa (ear canal inflammation and infection)
  • Obesity (particularly among neutered males)
  • Degenerative joint disease (hip and elbow dysplasia)

Interestingly, some of the conditions were found to be more closely associated with coat color than others.  For example, chocolate colored Labs were more likely to have both otitis externa and a skin condition called pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spots).

The average lifespan of all Labs is around 12 years, but chocolate Labs had shorter lifespans.  The two most common causes of death in Labs are musculoskeletal disorders and cancer.

The researchers suspect that the link between chocolate color and illness/mortality might be due to an increased number of genetic diseases contained in a more limited gene pool.

If you’re interested in a Labrador Retriever as your next pet, be sure to work only with a reputable breeder (or rescue organization) who health tests their dogs for inherited health problems.

For more information on health testing, check out the website of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.


November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Has your pet been diagnosed with cancer?  One in four dogs and one in five cats will develop cancer in their lifetimes.  Experts say that the number of pet cancer cases is rising, as advances in veterinary medicine are increasing the lifespans of our companion animals.

Here are a few important facts about cancer for all pet owners.

Common symptoms of cancer in pets

  • Abnormal lumps or swollen areas
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Bloody discharge
  • Difficulty breathing or eliminating
  • Lameness

Most common pet cancers

  • Mammary gland tumors. These are more common in dogs than cats.
  • Skin tumors. Tumors in cats tend to be more malignant than in dogs; some canine tumors can be benign.
  • Head and neck cancer. Especially common in the mouth and nose.
  • Lymphoma. A common cancer in both dogs and cats.  Lymphoma in cats is linked to second-hand smoke exposure.
  • Bone cancer. Older, large breed dogs are especially at risk.

Pet cancer prevention tips

  • Spay and neuter your pet. This greatly reduces the risk of cancer in the mammary glands and sex organs.
  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Obesity can cause many health problems, including cancer.
  • Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth and visit the vet for regular oral exams.
  • Keep pets, especially those with white fur, out of the sun to avoid the risk of skin cancer.

For more information, check out this article from the American Veterinary Medical Association.


Happy Thanksgiving!


Wishing all of our friends a Happy Thanksgiving!  We’d like to extend a special thanks to our partners at the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo for their generous grant to FACE’s Save-A-Life Program pet cancer fund.  Cute little Chaquita is just one of the recipients of this grant.  She received assistance in October and is doing well.  Check our Facebook page in the coming weeks to see more cancer fund recipients.


A FACE in the Spotlight: Meet Madisyn Bonestell


To say that Madisyn Bonestell is a partner of the FACE Foundation is an understatement! Currently the Client Care Lead at San Diego’s Veterinary Specialty Hospital, Madisyn is a long-term member of the FACE family, having interned with us for six months prior to joining the staff at VSH. Madisyn has a unique perspective on the work that FACE does in collaboration with our veterinary partners to help save the lives of pets in need of urgent medical care.

“I know most of the people at FACE very well,” she says. “They are all so helpful and truly care about the pets.” Madisyn’s experience working with both FACE and VSH has been invaluable. She knows that a FACE grant means a second chance at life. “FACE is all about the animals and giving owners more time with their beloved pets,” say Madisyn. Her career at VSH has given her the pleasure of witnessing medical miracles firsthand. “It’s amazing watching pets walk out of here and going on to live a full life with their loving owners,” she says.


Madisyn’s most memorable FACE case at the hospital has been Loki. Many of our friends will remember sweet Loki and her loving family. Loki was able to have life-saving back surgery with the help of FACE. She and her family became great advocates for our work. Loki unfortunately developed cancer and was again helped by a FACE grant before passing away. “I enjoyed being a part of Loki’s second and third chance at life,” says Madisyn.

When not working at VSH, Madisyn enjoys spending time with her dog Jacob, reading, and hanging out with her friends. A true San Diegan, Madisyn loves going to the beach and experiencing all the fun things the city has to offer. FACE thanks Madisyn and everyone at VSH for all that they do to help save the lives of pets in need!