Guest Post: Cancer Sucks, For Pets as well as Humans

Dr Riggs talks about cancer and some of the interesting developments in the human world of cancer that might help our pets.

Cancer sucks. It sucks when someone we know gets it. It sucks when our pet gets it. It just sucks. So what exactly is cancer?

We hear the word, but do we understand what is going on? Cancer is the proliferation of cells from any normal tissue of the body that has undergone a transformation into abnormal cells, which grow at a faster rate then the surrounding normal cells. A benign cancer will stay in one area. A malignant cancer spreads to other parts of the body, through either the blood stream or the lymph system.

Cancer causes problem when it crowds out of normal cells and disrupts the organ’s natural functions. Whether it causes a problem just depends on where it is. A benign tumor on the skin often causes little problems if it is small enough to be removed. A small tumor in the brain may cause big problems if it puts pressure on specific parts of the brain.

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November is Cancer Awareness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

Several of the Embrace staff members (aka Embracers) are or recently have been going through cancer in their dogs and cats and all the physical and emotional toll that takes.

This month we are going to address this difficult health issue with a discussion by Dr Rex Riggs, and a podcast with Dr Patrick Mahaney, as well as some aspects of cancer treatment that pet insurance can definitely help you with.

In the meantime, check out the Morris Animal Foundation's "Golden Retriever Lifetime Study" that has just got going.

Morris Animal Foundation's Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is a groundbreaking effort to learn how to prevent cancer and other diseases. It is the largest and longest observational study ever undertaken to improve the health of dogs. The study will enroll up to 3,000 Golden Retrievers and will last 10 to 14 years.

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One Dog's Passing Highlights the Benefits of Therapy Dogs in Schools

As part of our focus on working dogs and cats this month, I was reminded yesterday how far reaching the benefits of therapy dogs are when the new that Brutus, our kids' school principal's boxer, passed away over the weekend. Brutus was more than a pet, he was a therapy dog who helped with many of the children at that school.

In an excerpt from our principal's letter to parents:

It is with a very heavy heart that I write to inform you all that our dog, Brutus, passed away over the weekend.  This was unexpected and, as you can imagine, has been heartbreaking for my family.  I am so grateful that over the past 3 years, Brutus also became part of the Gurney family. However, we always knew that the challenge of adding Brutus to our Gurney family would be that at some point we’d have to inform students of his passing. My hope was to have his younger brother, Woody (currently 18 months old), completely trained and credentialed through Therapy Dog International by the end of this school year so that we could phase Brutus out as he aged.  Unfortunately, Brutus left us much earlier than ever expected.

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Helping Working Dogs and Cats

The vast majority of working dogs and cats are assisted by charitable organizations and you can help as well by make a donation. Here are some of our favorites to get you started.

Military and Law Enforcement Dogs:

SaveAVet.org helps rescue and support military and law enforcement dogs after they have retired from the field

The Vest-a-Dog Network helps raise money to buy kevlar vests for active K9 constables. They don't take donations directly but here's the webpage with federal and state non-profits that do

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Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney and Laura Bennett talk about the wonder of working dogs and cats

Today's podcast is on working dogs and cats. There are many different kinds of ways dogs work in society such as dogs that sniff out drugs, bombs, fruit and other banned substances, cadaver dogs, seizure or blood-sugar alert dogs, mold-sniffing dogs, and even cancer-sniffing dogs. In addition, there are therapy dogs and cats. And of course, actual dogs and cats that work on the farm or in the field hunting or dragging a sled in the Iditarod.

Our podcast discusses the following questions about working dogs and cats:

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