Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Pet Cancer Awareness Month: When It Is & How It’s Celebrated

Grant Piper

By Grant Piper

veterinarian examining a sick Rhodesian ridgeback dog

Most people have heard about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place in October, but few people have heard about Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Pet Cancer Awareness Month hopes to raise awareness about pet cancer rates and the signs to look out for. Pet Cancer Awareness Month takes place every November. The month also tries to raise money for pet cancer research which has traditionally been funded far less than human cancer research. The month has been observed for 18 years and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

When Is Pet Cancer Awareness Month?

Each year in November, pet companies make a push to get the word out about the rates of pet cancer and ways that people can donate to specific causes. The observance runs for the entire month, starting on November 1st and ending on November 30th. During this time, pet owners are encouraged to examine their pets, read up on signs to look out for, and talk to their friends and family about the dangers and prevalence of pet cancer.

vet holding a senior cat
Image Credit: Alice Rodnova, Shutterstock

Who Started Pet Cancer Awareness Month?

Pet Cancer Awareness Month was started in 2005 by Nationwide Pet Insurance. It has been observed every November since 2005. Nationwide Pet Insurance saw that one of the leading causes of death in pets was cancer but that there was no movement to try to address this problem. As a result, they created Pet Cancer Awareness Month to raise money for pet cancer causes and to increase awareness about this issue.

How to Celebrate and Get Involved

There are a number of different ways to participate in Pet Cancer Awareness Month. One of the best things you can do is bring your pets in for an annual check up to have them screened for basic cancers. The earlier you detect and treat cancer, the better the chances are of survival and a full recovery.

Another thing you can do is donate to a specific cause. There are numerous charities that help animals, including animals with cancer. Two of the best cancer organizations for pets are the Animal Cancer Foundation and the National Canine Cancer Foundation. Just like with human medicine, there are new developments and discoveries being made all the time for animal cancer. Research takes time, money, and lab space. Donations to these types of organizations can help raise awareness and further pet cancer research.

How Many Pets Get Cancer?

Pet cancer is extremely widespread. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 25% of dogs will get cancer at least once in their lifetime, and 20% of cats will get cancer at least once.  That equates to roughly 6 million cats, and dogs diagnosed yearly with cancer.

The most common type of pet cancer is skin cancer. Many animals get melanomas and fatty tumors that grow just under the skin. You should look out for any new growths or masses that appear on your animal’s skin.

The rate of cancer rises in senior pets. Dogs over the age of 10 have a cancer rate that approaches 50%. Cancer is the leading cause of death in pets that have surpassed middle age.

Understanding pet cancer is a relatively recent development. Cancer has been evident in animals for thousands of years. However, treating pets specifically for cancer and developing veterinary oncology only started in the 1960s.

Signs of Pet Cancer
  • Abnormal swelling or growths
  • Sores that weep or do not heal
  • Persistent weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood or discharge
  • A bad odor that persists and gets worse
  • Loss of energy and drive
  • Lameness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty relieving themselves


No one wants their beloved pets to get cancer, but unfortunately, millions do. The earlier you catch potential cancer, the better the chances are for the vet to develop a successful treatment plan. New treatments and technologies are being developed all the time, and these breakthroughs are helping to increase the survivability rates of pets that are diagnosed with cancer.

Related Reads:

Featured Image Credit: Zontica, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database