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Breast Cancer In Pets

Beyond Halloween, OctobSA Breast Cancer Photoer is most notably known as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. WVMA member, Marthina Greer, DVM, of Veterinary Village in Lomira, Wis., is using it to bring awareness to mammary gland cancer in pets.

During the month of October, she and the staff in her clinic wear pink to promote awareness of the disease. In addition, every female dog goes home with a pink, breast cancer awareness bandana. Dr. Greer also takes time to educate owners on mammary gland cancer and the importance of early detection.

Unfortunately, mammary tumors in intact females have a high prevalence rate, with over 50 percent being cancerous. When spayed before the first heat cycle, a dog ’s chances of getting mammary gland cancer are less than one percent. As the dog matures, her risk increases with each subsequent heat cycle, Dr. Greer explains.

As with humans, early detection of breast cancer is vital in animals. Just as human females are directed to give a self-breast exam each month, pet owners should also do the same for their female dogs. Any unusual firmness, thickening, or asymmetry should be noted and called to their veterinarian’s attention. If any discharge is noticed from the nipples in a dog that isn’t lactating, a veterinary exam is needed.

Most importantly, pets should be seen by their veterinarian annually for a wellness exam, and dogs in their senior years (7 years and older) will benefit from seeing their veterinarian twice a year. During the wellness exam, the veterinarian can examine the pet’s overall health, provide any necessary vaccinations and answer any concerns or questions the owner may have.

To learn more about breast cancer in pets, contact your local WVMA member veterinarian. Find one online at

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