Câncer de mama em pets: diagnóstico, tratamento e prevenção

Breast cancer in pets: diagnosis, treatment and prevention


It's more common than you might think: breast cancer in pets is one of the most dangerous diseases in the lives of dogs and cats. Silent and extremely lethal, this pathology can be related to several factors and affects both males and females.

You may have heard many theories about breast cancer in pets, but know that there are many myths and false information when we talk about the subject. Understanding the disease in depth is essential to offering the best care to animals.

In today's post, we will explain better how the disease manifests itself, how to treat it and how to carry out correct prevention. Remember that accurate diagnosis and correct treatment can only be defined by the veterinarian. Shall we go to the text?

What is breast cancer in dogs and cats?

Also known as mammary carcinoma, breast cancer occurs when breast tissue cells grow irregularly (effect known as neoplasia), causing the emergence of tumors in the region.

Tumors can be benign when there is no metastasismeaning the cancer cells have not spread throughout the body and can be removed.

However, there is a possibility that the cancer is malignant, a situation in which the cells have already spread throughout the body and reached other organs, which happens in one in three cases.

Breast cancer in pets: a real danger

Five out of ten dogs and three out of ten kittens will be affected by breast cancer. The data from the Federal Council of Veterinary Medicine (CFMV) are alarming, but real: the disease is dangerous for any pet, regardless of breed, age or sex.

October is the month known for preventing breast cancer in humans, but the campaign in recent years also includes care to prevent the disease in furry animals.

Although the highest incidence of the disease is in dogs and cats, male animals are also at risk. Therefore, precautions must involve all pets, even more so when 20% of cases are diagnosed latecomplicating the chances of recovery.

Late diagnosis can be fatal for cats and dogs.

Causes of breast cancer in pets

There are some factors that can drive the onset of the disease in pets, but one of them is, by far, the most common: non-castration or late castration of pets.

If you don't yet know the benefits of castration, we have very complete content here on the blog on the topic. Just click here to check it out!

In general, castration is a surgical intervention to remove the reproductive organs of animals and prevent them from being able to reproduce.

There are many benefits to opting for neutering, such as avoiding the overpopulation of stray animals, reducing the chances of accidents and most importantly: considerably reduce the chances of breast cancer.

Without the uterus, ovaries or testicles, there is a drop in hormonal levels, which greatly reduces the chances of cancer cells appearing. However, be aware that there are other indications for the emergence of breast cancer.

Taking hormonal medications

When taking contraceptives or supplements throughout life, as well as contraceptive injections, the risk of breast cancer may increase. These medications enhance the production of hormones, increasing the chances of tumors in the breast region.


An obese puppy can be a risk to your own health. With the slowing of metabolism and the accumulation of body fat, this condition can trigger numerous problems, including breast cancer.

Psychological pregnancy

Pseudocyesis, known as psychological pregnancy, is a condition that can directly affect the body of pets, causing various dysfunctions and hormonal imbalances. Breast cancer, therefore, can arise in these cases.

Breast cancer in pets: symptoms

Just like any other disease, the sooner breast cancer is identified, the greater the chances of a cure and a quick and healthy recovery.

A pet that is affected by the disease presents some very obvious symptoms, but these can be confused with other diseases. Therefore, the main indicator for detecting the nodule is feel the animal's breasts in order to find any lumps in the area.

Photo of a sad golden retriever lying in an armchair
Symptoms of breast cancer in pets may or may not be silent.

This lump, most of the time, is a mobile mass that oscillates in the skin tissue. However, this tumor may be attached to the muscles. In both cases, when you find any anomaly in the region, go to your veterinarian immediately.

Other common symptoms of breast cancer in dogs and cats are:

  • Swelling in the breasts
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Apathy
  • Weight loss
  • Breast secretions with a strong odor
  • Red and sensitive breasts
  • Animal licking the region more than normal

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis of breast cancer in dogs and cats must be made by a veterinary medicine professional. Therefore, Never start treating the disease without first consulting a qualified person in the area.

Generally, this finding is made through clinical and laboratory tests, which the veterinary clinic itself is capable of carrying out. The most common are these:

  • Tomography
  • Ultrasound
  • Aspiration cytology
  • Radiography
  • MRI

After the biopsy, it will be possible to understand whether it is a benign or malignant tumor, how much it has already affected the pet's body and what treatment will be indicated for the case, according to the severity of the disease.

Is there treatment for breast cancer in pets?

After all, is breast cancer in cats curable? What about dogs, can they recover? The answer is: it depends.

When we talk about breast cancer in pets, we mainly talk about time. In other words, when the disease was diagnosed and what can be done in that situation.

In the case of cats, for example, the mammary tumor that develops is adenocarcinoma, a type of extremely brutal cancer that grows very quickly and spreads easily throughout the bodyincluding lymph nodes, which are close to the breast.

Photo of a sick ginger kitten lying on the bed
Early diagnosis influences the pet's chances of survival.

In most cases, the first step in treatment is complete removal of the tumor by surgical means. When it is a benign nodule, simply remove it and wait for your pet to recover.

For malignant tumors, the situation is somewhat different. In addition to complete removal of the cyst, it is necessary to hope that metastasis has not occurredwhich is when cancer cells have already spread throughout the body.

In these cases, even with chemotherapy, the chances of survival are minimal. The treatment then becomes palliative, with medications that seek to bring more comfort and less pain for the remainder of the animal's life.

How much does the treatment cost?

From the moment of diagnosis to tumor and breast removal surgery, known as mastectomyit is important that you are prepared to pay for all necessary medical procedures.

The cost of the surgery will vary from one region to another. Choosing a public or private clinic is also another factor that can differentiate the cost of performing the surgical intervention.

Be aware that the costs don't stop there. In addition to surgery, you will need to spend on previous examinations, consultations with the veterinarian, anesthesia, medicines and dressings and, if applicable, chemotherapy treatment.

Breast cancer in dogs and cats: how to prevent it?

There are some factors that can prevent breast cancer in cats and dogs. Discover the most common ones.

Query routine

No type of prevention will be as effective as having a routine visits to the veterinarian, preferably one to three times a year. This habit prevents illnesses, such as breast cancer itself, from developing, which allows care to be started even before the disease spreads.

Breast cancer can be silent and, in some cases, can only be identified through examinations. Visiting this professional, then, should be a priority when caring for your furry friend.


A castration is essential to prevent breast cancer, due to the fact that it removes the animal's reproductive organs and reduces the hormonal level in the region. To give you an idea, when the procedure is carried out before the pet's first heat, the chances of the animal having the disease are less than 1%.

Generally, this definition of the ideal period for castration depends on some health factors of the animal, which only a veterinarian can establish. However, it is almost unanimous among professionals in the field that castration should be done before the pet is two years old.

Constant attention

It is important to be in pay close attention to the signals your pet givesas well as constantly running your hand over your body in order to find any nodules or abnormalities.

For those who have male dogs or cats, care must be the same, since, even to a lesser extent, they are also affected by the disease.

Photo of owner petting her dog
Constantly checking your pet's health status can prevent various diseases.

Note if the animal's breasts are red, if it has a different behavior, more apathetic, lazy and loss of appetite. These signs do not mean that he has breast cancer, per se, but that something with his health may not be right.

What should be the care of dogs and cats with breast cancer?

If your puppy or kitten has been affected by breast cancer, you should offer the best possible care for your physical and mental health. In cases where the tumor is malignant and metastasis has already occurred, it is important to provide quality of life for the remainder of that pet's journey.

Give the medicine at the correct times, invest in good food, continue with medical monitoring and most importantly: be by his side and don't skimp on affection and company.

Pets in this condition are physically weaker and emotionally vulnerable. The role of tutors, then, is treat them in the best possible way, offering everything they can. Rest assured that a happy pet can live longer and better!

Breast cancer is a preventable disease, but it affects many pets around the world. Prevention is the best way to prevent more animals from being affected, and castration is the best tool to offer more longevity and quality of life to pets.

Now that you know the risks of breast cancer and how to prevent it, also read about another disease as serious as it: spotted fever. See you next time!