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Animal Attraction: November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month

by Stacy Fox

Posted on November 6, 2012 at 7:10 AM

In 2011, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, received more than 48,000 claims for cancer diagnosis and treatment in pets – making cancer-related conditions collectively the fourth most common type of medical claim received last year. In a continuing effort to educate pet owners about the prevalence, detection and treatment of pet cancer, VPI again recognizes November as National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Partnering with the Animal Cancer Foundation (ACF), VPI will host the sixth annual VPI K9K Pet Cancer Awareness Walk on Nov. 11, 2012 in Long Beach, Calif., to raise funds for pet cancer research. In addition, for each new Facebook "Like" in November, VPI will donate $1 to the Animal Cancer Foundation, up to $10,000. To date, VPI has raised more than $108,000 to benefit the ACF.

VPI launched National Pet Cancer Awareness Month in 2005, calling attention to the number one disease-related killer of dogs and cats. Below are the 10 most common cancer-related claims received by VPI last year:

  1. Lymphosarcoma or Lymphoma
  2. Skin Cancer (Malignant Skin Neoplasia)
  3. Splenic (Spleen) Cancer
  4. Bone or Joint Cancer
  5. Hepatic (Liver) Cancer
  6. Thoracic (Chest) Cancer
  7. Bladder Cancer
  8. Brain or Spinal Cord Cancer
  9. Oral (Mouth) Cancer
  10. Peritoneal (Membrane Lining the Walls of the Abdominal and Pelvic Cavities) Cancer

Treating these pet cancers can be a heavy financial burden for pet owners. Last year, VPI policyholders spent more than $17.4 million on the top 10 cancer-related conditions. Lymphosarcoma or Lymphoma was the most expensive condition on the list, costing policyholders an average of $2,367 per pet.

To ensure that VPI policyholders are able to pursue optimal cancer treatment, VPI's medical policies include benefits for the diagnosis and treatment of cancerous conditions, including chemotherapy and radiation when necessary.  

"Cancer continues to be a widespread medical condition among cats and dogs," said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. "Educating pet owners to ensure they recognize the signs and symptoms of pet cancer, in addition to the importance of being financially prepared for any and all circumstances, is imperative in the fight against cancer and all pet illnesses."

Pet Cancer Detection Tips

To detect cancer early, pet owners should be attentive to any growing lump or sore that fails to heal. They should also monitor their pet for 1) drastic changes in the pet's appetite or weight; 2) unusually strong odors coming from a pet; 3) discharge or bleeding from any body opening; 4) difficulty chewing or swallowing; or 5) an unwillingness to exercise.

Further detection tips and information on National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, as well as registration information for the Long Beach VPI K9K Pet Cancer Awareness Walk, can be found by visiting For more information on the Animal Cancer Foundation, please go to

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.