Why Is Cancer Killing Our Pets?: How You Can Protect and Treat Your Animal Companion


The first book to examine the environmental, dietary, and lifestyle-related causes of cancer in pets and to assess the full spectrum of treatments—both alternative and conventional.

• Foreword by Gary Kowalski, author of The Souls of Animals.

• Cancer is the leading killer of cats and dogs, but this book explains that it is often preventable.

• Includes research on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and guinea pigs.

• A valuable resource for all pet...

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The first book to examine the environmental, dietary, and lifestyle-related causes of cancer in pets and to assess the full spectrum of treatments—both alternative and conventional.

• Foreword by Gary Kowalski, author of The Souls of Animals.

• Cancer is the leading killer of cats and dogs, but this book explains that it is often preventable.

• Includes research on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and guinea pigs.

• A valuable resource for all pet owners, whether their animals are still healthy or not.

Cancer is now the number one killer of most domestic animals. This fact raises a fearsome specter for those who know how confusing and painful it can be to endure the course of this disease in their pets. Having lost four animal companions to cancer, author Deborah Straw became frustrated by the lack of concrete knowledge about the causes, prevention, and treatment of cancer in pets. This thorough and comprehensive guide to every aspect of the disease in animals is the result of her search for answers.

Readers will discover the many environmental, dietetic, and vaccine-related culprits that may cause cancer in pets, and they'll learn preventive measures that can be taken to safeguard their pets' well-being. Should your animal's diagnosis be confirmed, the full spectrum of both conventional and alternative treatments is presented, from chemotherapy and laser surgery to herbal therapy, acupuncture, and touch therapy. Readers will find information about both caring for a sick animal and grieving its loss. Full of knowledge, options, and support, this is an essential resource for protecting your pet.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the U.S., cancer is the second leading cause of death in humans but the number one killer of pets, primarily cats and dogs. After losing four pets to four different forms of cancer, longtime journalist and animal lover Deborah Straw decided to investigate the matter further. The result of her considerable and careful research is Why Is Cancer Killing Our Pets?: How You Can Protect and Treat Your Animal Companion. Without endorsing any particular form of care, but stressing the value of expert intervention, Straw discusses cancer prevention, traditional and alternative cancer treatments and how to cope with the loss of a pet to this relentless disease. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892819263
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Straw is a longtime animal, health, and lifestyle writer based in Vermont. She is also the author of an ecotourism guide, Natural Wonders of the Florida Keys, and is a widely published essayist.

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Read an Excerpt

Terrible is just what it is when your animal companion becomes ill and dies. You feel so helpless. Unlike children, who ultimately mature and become responsible for themselves, an animal requires your constant, lifelong care. You are responsible for all aspects of her life. You hold her and comfort her, and you alter your daily routine to care for her. You cook her healthy meals and provide vitamins and minerals. Over the years you will probably watch her deteriorate, hobble around, and die in your arms. Animals are excellent patients. Few complain or even utter a sound. Their emotions are in their eyes. As they have always done, they trust that you will make the best decisions on their part.

Warning Signs Of Cancer

As is true with any behavioral or physical change in your animal companion, warning signs of tumors both benign and malignant should be checked out thoroughly and immediately by your trusted veterinarian. All experts in the animal health field say that early detection and prompt diagnosis and treatment of cancer will increase the chances of recovery, or at least of a longer, happier life for the animal. Here are what the majority of veterinary sources consider to be the potential symptoms of cancer.

* Any abnormal swelling or lump that keeps growing. 
* Nonhealing sores. 
* Weight loss for no apparent reason. 
* Loss of normal appetite. 
* Bleeding or unusual discharge from a body opening such as the nose or mouth. 
* A foul odor, especially from the mouth. 
* Difficulty eating or swallowing. 
* Loss of strength and disinterest in normal exercise. 
* Lameness and stiffness that continues. 
* Difficulty breathing, defecating or urinating. 
* Any other change in behavior. For example, some case studies regarding bone cancers indicate that the dog or cat first started limping. 

Prevention and Early Detection

Prevention and early detection can make all the difference. Marion S. Lane and the staff of the Humane Society of the United States write that your best offense in protecting your pet against serious illness is a good defense" - including regular visits to the veterinarian; spaying or neutering, which helps many disease of the reproductive organs as well as overpopulation and abandonment of pets, screening exams that your veterinarian recommends, especially as your animal ages, and careful observation and prompt investigation of anything out of the ordinary. And according to Steven E. Crow, D.V.M., malignant tumors identified during regular exams are more likely to be cured "than cancers which are already causing clinical signs of illnesses.

Dr. Crow, head oncologist at the Sacramento Animal Medical Group, Sacramento California, adds that the likelihood of many animal cancers can be significantly reduced in at least three ways:

* Spaying female dogs prior to their first heat. This reduces the risk of breast cancer to 0.5 percent. An ovariohysterectomy after one heat cycle or two or more estrous cycles reduces the risk of mammary carcinomas to 8 or 26 percent, respectively. 
* Neutering male dogs elimimates all testicular tumors and decreases the possibility of circumanal adenomas and adenocarcinomas. 
* People with white or light-pigmented cats should minimize their pet's exposure to sunlight- especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. - to protect against squamous cell carcinomas of the eyelids, nose and ears; owners of white dogs can use sunscreens (up to SPF 30) and avoid excessive sun exposure. This may reduce the prevalance of solar-induced cancers, such as basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, on these dogs' noses.
* With dogs, watch for growths in the mouth and on the dog's body.  Check each mammary gland periodically, approximately once a month. With male dogs, especially those older than six years, palpate the testicles to see changes in size that could indicate a growth.

Here are a few more tips, especially important for all older pets:

* Make annual medical check-ups. Geriatric animals should be checked at least twice a year. (For large animals, or those who get especially anxious and cagey before and during trips to their vet, it is wonderful if you can find a veterinarian who make home visits.) 
* Keep your animal on a well-balanced, nutritious diet. 
* Try not to needlessly alter your animal's routines. Changes can bring on stress. Try to feed and walk at regularly scheduled times. 
* Before bringing in a new pet, consider your older pet's reactions. Many older dogs and cats enjoy younger one, while some do not. You can create misery, and possibly even illness, if you force a new roommate on a set-in-her-ways animal. 
* Keep your pets clean. They like it, and they feel nicer to your touch. 
* Touch your animals regularly to establish to establish closeness and to detect any early lumps or abnormalities. This is an important part of the human-animal bond. 
* Keep the water dish washed and full of clean water. 
* Play with your animals on a regular basis. It's good for both of you. 

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Table of Contents

Why Is Cancer Killing Our Pets?
How You Can Protect and Treat Your Animal Companion

Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction
1. Today's Pets, Today's Cancer
2. Dogs
3. Cats
4. Other Small Animals
5. Environmental Concerns
6. Drinking Water
7. Vaccinations
8. Nutrition
9. The Role of Emotions
10. Conventional Treatments
11. An Introduction to Alternative Therapies
12. Herbs and Bach Flower Remedies
13. Vitamins and More
14. Homeopathy and Naturopathy
15. Other Alternative Therapies
16. Pet Insurance and HMOs
17. If Your Pet Already Has Cancer
18. Grieving and Accepting the Loss Conclusion Appendix A Resources Appendix B Recommended Reading Glossary Notes Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2001


    Finally someone gives us the tools to fight the leading cause of animal deaths today - cancer. Ms. Straw writes in a clear, concise voice, taking the mystery out of the awful word ¿cancer¿. I cannot adequately describe my emotions the first time I heard a veterinarian use the term ¿carcinoma¿ to diagnose my ailing 14 year old Brittany; it was a mixture of anger, nearly rage and true sadness, but mostly hopelessness and helplessness. He explained that the growth was so advanced there was little I could do, but take him home and make him comfortable for the few weeks he had left. So fear evoking is the word ¿cancer¿ that the veterinarian never once used it. As though avoiding its use would somehow render it less powerful. But it is the owner of a stricken pet that has no power, that feels so impotent. Ms. Straw does not claim to have found the one sure cure for cancer, but she does give us hope for its avoidance and a step by step approach on how to deal with its terrible impact. It is the sad truth, that if you have a companion animal, it is most likely to die from cancer. You owe it to yourself and your pet to read this fine, well written book. I am a hunter and my dogs are superb athletes, that live for the hunt, no one would ever accuse me of coddling them; but with the information from this great book, I have changed much in their care. I am learning which known carcinogens to avoid, to not over-vaccinate, and to be more careful with pesticides. Because of this book, I am a more responsible pet owner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2001


    I reviewed this book in January and discussed it in my pet-related newspaper columns that are published throughout Vermont. Why is Cancer Killing Our Pets?' provides an excellent compilation of sources and information on why natural pet care is so important. Straw interviews Dr's. Pitcairn, Goldstein and more and provides many hits on the vast information these doctors have covered in their books. No one source seems to have all the information but this is a great book to get you started or help tie it all together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2000

    An essential book for all worried about their pet's health

    Clearly and compassionately written, covering all aspects of the disease in pets. A book that needed to be written and, thanks to Deborah Straw, a book that is now available to all. I heartily recommend it: both for its preventative recommendations, as well as for its information and advice should your pet be diagnosed with cancer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2000

    Outstanding Guide To Dealing With Serious Illness In Pets

    This book is a breakthrough - it is truly exceptional, both in terms of its content and in the warm, easy-to-follow way it is written. It is the best-written book on dealing with pet medical issues that I have ever personally seen or read. It's informative, excellently-researched and packed with great preventative tips, warning signs and statistics which put cancer into perspective for pet-owners. A great gift for any pet-loving friend or family member, and a great resource book to have on hand to help you keep your pets safe healthy and as protected as humanly possible.

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