Ovarian Cancer in Pets

In the realm of human medicine, September is also known as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. 

But, many pet owners may not be aware that pets can also get ovarian cancer. The purpose of this blog post is to give information about diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this cancer.

What causes ovarian tumors?

The exact cause of ovarian tumors is not well understood, although they only occur in intact (un-spayed) female dogs since they retain their ovaries unless they are spayed. These tumors typically occur in older dogs, and certain breeds may be more prone such as German Shepherds, Boxer Dogs, Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, Pointers, and Boston Terriers.

What are the symptoms if my pet has ovarian cancer?

The signs of ovarian cancer vary depending on the type of tumor and what areas of the body it may affect. Ovarian tumors can metastasize (spread), and some are capable of producing hormones.

Many ovarian tumors are asymptomatic, meaning there are no clinical signs. Symptoms typically become evident when they become very large- this can cause fluid build up in the abdomen, or cause a rounded-belly. These tumors can also cause symptoms based on where they metastasize to, such as causing fluid in the lungs. Some ovarian tumors also produce hormones (estrogen and progesterone), which can causes vaginal discharge, persistent heat cycles, pyometra (severe uterine infection), lethargy, weight loss, and changes in haircoat.

How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?

Unless these tumors grow large enough for your veterinarian to palpate, they may be difficult to detect on routine exams. Some abnormalities in bloodwork may raise the suspicion of an ovarian tumor, but only and ultrasound and surgery with testing of the ovarian tissue can definitively diagnose these tumors.

What is the treatment for these tumors?

Ovariohysterectomy (spay) is the most common treatment- this involves removing the ovaries and uterus. In cases of locally invasive tumors, this surgery is typically curative. In cases where the tumor has spread to other parts of the body, chemotherapy after surgery is recommended.

Can I prevent my pet from getting these tumors?

Yes! By having your pet spayed, she will have her ovaries removed which completely prevents the chance of this happening. Spaying also prevents accidental preganacy, uterine infections, and reduces the chances of mammary cancer by over 50%. And even better is that Emerald Coast Mobile Vet has the full capabilities to perform this surgery in our 26 ft mobile hospital!

If you would like more information on this procedure, or to schedule your pet’s spay, call Emerald Coast Mobile Vet today!