The occurrence of cancer in pets is on the rise, with current estimates showing that 1 in 3 cats and 1 of every 1.65 dogs will develop fatal cancers.

Dogs are at the greatest risk of developing cancer among all species of mammals, including humans. Many breeds experience a higher than 50 percent likelihood of death related to cancer, including the Rottweiler, boxer, golden retriever, Bernese mountain dog, Great Dane and flat-coated retriever, The Times reported.

Dr. Cynthia Maro, a veterinarian at the Ellwood Animal Hospital in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, who has been practicing for 31 years, has observed an increase in the incidence of cancer in pets, including the development of aggressive cancers in younger pets, as early as 3.

According to Maro, genetic causes exist that can preprogram cells to develop cancer upon exposure to environmental and dietary carcinogens, but such causes are significant in less than 10 percent of pet cancer patients.

“The primary cause of cancer development in the veterinary world, just as in humans, is mitochondrial damage in cells, which lead to mutations that allow the cancer to grow and spread,” Maro said.

Many factors could be responsible for cancer development in pets, including decreasing nutritional value and contaminants in foods, chemical treatments for yards and produce, overimmunization and excessive carbohydrates (sugars) in pet foods and treats.

“Even a toxic lifestyle of high stress, fighting in the home, secondhand smoke, obesity and lack of exercise negatively impact the cellular mitochondria,” Maro said. “Any factors that increase inflammation and decrease cellular oxygen and the natural cellular detoxification processes lead to degenerative illnesses, including cancer.”

Maro recommends the following to help prevent cancer in your pet:

• Feed your pet the most wholesome whole-food diet you can afford.

• Avoid synthetic supplements.

• Vaccinate pets against illnesses that can be fatal.

• Eliminate squishy treats that contain a lot of sugar compounds such as glycerin, flour and propylene glycol.

• Consult with your veterinarian about the least chemical approach to preventing parasites.

• Provide mental and physical stimulation for your pets.

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