THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Nine-year-old pet German Shepherd Ginger has been losing weight over the past six months. The owner initially thought the reason could be reduced food intake. However, the vet at the District Veterinary Centre at PMG Dr Suman discovered swelling in the dog’s lymph nodes. A smear was sent to the lab at Chief Disease Investigation Office at Palode where the disease was confirmed. Ginger has cancer. Cancer in humans and pets have a lot of similarities. In both the cases, it continues to be a major killer disease. But the good news is that curable rates are high if detected at an early stage. Pets in the city get the better diagnostics and treatment at CDIO and DVC.
The number of people taking their pets to vets has increased over the years. DVC itself gets 70 to 120 dogs a day. X-rays and scanning are done at DVC itself. It systematically collects tumour specimens and sends it to CDIO for diagnosis. “50% of the samples we received has turned out to be positive. It shows the prevalence of cancer among dogs,” said pathologist at CDIO, Dr Nandakumar. According to him transmissible venereal tumour, mammary carcinoma, skin tumours and lymphoma are some of the most commonly found tumour cases. Gone are the days when pet owners were advised to euthanise affected animals.
Cancer affected animals are treated with medicines and procedures used for the treatment in humans. “Malignant tumours are removed surgically. Chemotherapy is advised in specific cases,” said senior veterinary surgeon of the veterinary hospital at Pettah, Dr Prem Jain. According to Zoo veterinarian Dr Jacob Alexander, chemotherapy drugs such as Vincristine can cure the transmissible venereal tumour in dogs. Veterinary doctors consult with cancer specialists at Regional Cancer Centre to decide on the dosage of medicines used for treatment. Radiation therapy is the only area the authorities have to develop for animals.
It may take at least one month for diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of cancer affected animals. Diagnosis is done free of cost. In government veterinary centres the cost of the treatment is less. It takes Rs 150 for a surgical procedure. But the owners will have to buy the medicines which may cost them between Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000.
Like in the cases of humans there are varied reasons for cancers in pets. Some breeds are prone to diseases. Change in living condition is said to be one of the major reasons for the rise in cancer cases in human beings. Investigations into premature deaths of animals show even animals are affected by the disease. Veterinarians such as Dr Prem Jain and Dr Jacob Alexander pointed at the connection between cancer and substandard pet foods available in the market.