Pet Cancer Awareness Month

November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month.  This terrible disease accounts for nearly 50% of all disease-related pet deaths each year.  In fact, pets are diagnosed with cancer at roughly the same rate as humans.  With these statistics we want to ensure you have the information you need to ensure your pet remains healthy and happy.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disorder of cell growth (uncontrolled cell division) that results in an abnormal mass of tissue (tumor) without a purpose. The growth exceeds that of normal tissue, is un-coordinated, and persists after the cause has gone. There are many different types of cancers.


A few definitions
  • “Neoplasia” is Greek for “new growth”. Not all neoplasms are malignant. In fact, many are not life threatening and are referred to as “benign”.
  • “Malignant” means “life threatening”. Malignancy is often shown by tumor names ending in “carcinoma” or “sarcoma”.
  • “Cancer” is the Latin word for ‘crab’ and the name describes the way the cancer adheres to adjacent tissues. Another more descriptive name for cancer is “malignant neoplasia”. “
  • “Tumor” is Latin for a swelling. Tumors may include swellings that are due to non-neoplastic causes.


What causes cancer?

Cancer is essentially the result of non-lethal genetic damage to cells (mutations in cellular DNA). Causes of such mutations include radiation, chemicals, hormones and infections. Some damage to cellular DNA is a daily “wear and tear” event, and all mammals have many safeguards to prevent or repair such damage.  Nonetheless, such protective mechanisms are not flawless. In some individuals there are even defects in such defenses, resulting in a higher than expected occurrence of cancer.  Some of those defects in protection are inherited; for example, some purebred dogs have inherited predispositions to develop specific forms of cancer. In other instances, the protective mechanisms are unable to cope with excessive injury.

The mutated DNA upsets the normal regulation of cell growth, and the “altered” cells no longer obey the rules governing coordinated cell activity, instead growing in an uncontrolled and uncoordinated fashion.


CatwithVet250x250Why do pets develop cancer?

All cells have the potential to develop cancer. It is in many cases a matter of chance and misfortune.

The more divisions a cell undergoes, the more probable is a mutation; therefore, cancer tends to be more common in those cells that divide more frequently and in older animals whose cells have undergone many divisions. Pets are living longer, and because cancer frequency increases with age, we are seeing more cancer cases. In some cases, an animal has been exposed to carcinogens, factors in the environment that cause or promote cancer. These include sunlight, some chemicals and some infections.

Some animals have a greater tendency (genetic susceptibility) to cancer. Some breeds have far more cancers than others, often of specific types. A few tumors need hormones to start growing or to enable them to persist. These tumors are classified as “hormone dependent”.


Can my animal catch cancer from another animal? Can my animal transmit cancer to others?

For the vast majority of cases the answer to both questions is “No!”

Some viruses and other microorganisms can cause cancer in animals. Animals may become infected with one of these agents from their mother before or at birth, through direct contact with other animals of the same species, or through bites of ‘vectors’ such as fleas or ticks. Feline leukemia virus, for example, can cause cancers of the blood and lymphoid system in cats. Occasionally, an infected queen will transmit the virus to her kittens before or at birth. However, feline leukemia virus is more commonly spread by close contact with infected cats that shed the virus in saliva, urine and feces. If your cat is infected, it can pass the infection to other cats.

If your pet is infected with a specific transmissible cancer, your veterinarian will advise you of this and you must take steps to prevent your pet from infecting other animals.


How does cancer affect my pet?

The most obvious symptom of most cancers is a lump that continues to enlarge. This lump may ulcerate, bleed or cause other physical effects (pressure, displacement, etc.) on the surrounding tissues.

Benign cancers only enlarge in a local area by uniform, smooth expansion but malignant cancers may invade the surrounding tissues with “tentacles” or irregular projections (i.e. “cancer the crab”).  In fact, pathologists use these differences in growth habit to help decide if the cancer is benign or malignant. Malignant neoplasia may also be malignant because it spreads widely through the body. Widespread distribution of a cancer may occur by “direct seeding”, which occurs when cancer cells break away from the original tumor and seed in body cavities (such as the pleural cavity of the chest or peritoneal cavity of the abdomen). Malignant cancer may also be spread when cancer cells invade the blood, which then carries tumor cells to distant tissues where the cells lodge and start new tumor masses (metastases). The most common sites for metastatic cancer to develop are the liver, the lungs and the lymph nodes, although other sites can be affected.

Weight loss due to loss of body fat and muscle is common in malignant cancer and unexplained weight loss can be an important sign of malignancy.

A few tumors induce clinical signs that are not readily explained by local or distant spread of the tumors. These are known as paraneoplastic syndromes. Some syndromes are due to abnormal hormone production by the cancer. (Hormones are internal secretions that pass into the blood and stimulate other organs to action.) Examples of paraneoplastic signs and symptoms include loss of hair, increase or decrease in blood glucose levels, and increased blood calcium levels.


How is cancer diagnosed?

Your veterinarian may suspect that your pet has cancer based on certain clinical signs (a lump, loss of appetite and energy, loss of weight). X-rays may be useful in detecting internal tumors, including metastases. Blood tests can help indicate some tumors. In order to identify most tumor types, it is necessary to obtain a sample of the tumor. Depending upon the type of tumor suspected, your veterinarian may obtain this sample through a fine needle aspiration, a punch biopsy, a tissue biopsy or a full excision biopsy. In some cases, an exploratory surgery or ultrasound guidance may be needed.

The simplest approach in many cases is the aspiration (suction removal) of tumor cells with a syringe and needle.  It does not require general anesthesia or surgery. Microscopic examination of the cells obtained is called cytology. A few tumors can be accurately diagnosed with cytology.

However, in most cases a biopsy sample of the tissue must be examined in order to reach an accurate and reliable diagnosis. Your veterinarian will send the sample to a specialized laboratory for examination by a veterinary pathologist. The preparation and microscopic examination of tissue is called histopathology.

The histopathology report typically includes words that indicate whether a tumor is ‘benign’ (non-spreading, local growth) or ‘malignant’ (capable of spreading to other body sites). Malignancy is often shown by tumor names ending in “carcinoma” or “sarcoma”. These, together with the origin or type of tumor, the grade (degree of resemblance to normal cells) and stage (how far it has spread) indicate how the cancer is likely to behave.

The veterinary pathologist usually adds a prognosis (what will probably happen). This may include a prediction about the probability of local recurrence or metastasis (distant spread).


Can cancer disappear without treatment?

Cancer rarely disappears without treatment but as development is a multi-step process, it may stop at any stage. The body’s immune system can kill cancer cells using mechanisms that specifically target tumor cells that are recognized as “foreign”. These mechanisms include immune system cells such as cytotoxic lymphocytes and macrophages and lymphocytes that are responsible for antibody production. Not all tumors are recognized as foreign and even when they are, the immune system is rarely 100% effective in eliminating the cancer. In rare situations, loss of blood supply to a cancer, by pressure on its own supply for example, will result in tumor cell death but the dead tissue will probably need surgical removal.


What types of treatment are available?

The most common and often most effective treatment is surgical removal of the lump. For lumps that are too big or too numerous to be removed or that are in inaccessible locations, other treatments can be considered. These include drugs (chemotherapy), immunotherapy (specific or non-specific stimulation of the immune system), and radiation. Some of these treatments are only available at specialist centers. New approaches such as gene-based therapies are under development. Chemotherapy or radiation are not suitable for all types of cancer and often have significant side effects. Chemotherapy drugs target differences between the cancer cells and normal cells, but there is a fine margin and inevitably some normal cells are also destroyed.

There are many issues to be considered in the decisions on cancer treatment and your veterinarian will discuss these with you.


How do I know if the cancer is permanently cured?

In many cases, the diagnosis and prognosis indicate there can be a high likelihood of complete cure. Sadly, there are some cases where the diagnosis and prognosis indicate that surgical removal will only give transient relief and the cancer will recur or spread. There are a few tumors whose behavior can be difficult to predict.

As in humans, our understanding of cancer in dogs and cats is increasing. Survival rates are improving and many animals are alive and well as “cancer survivors”.

Reed Nissan Adopt-a-Thon

Reed Nissan 90-Day Adopt-a-ThonThe “Reed Nissan Pet Rescue Project 90-Day Adopt-a-Thon” officially kicked off its third year with the goal once again to help find 2,000 cats and dogs FURever homes.

Reed Nissan, Reed Nissan Clermont and the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando (PAGO) have come together for the third time to host the 90-Day Adopt-a-Thon in hopes of exceeding their success in 2015. Throughout the 2016 Adopt-a-Thon, adoption fees have been reduced to just $25 for all pets age six months of age.

Fees will be waived for animals adopted at Reed Nissan Clermont (16005 State Road 50) AND at both Pet Alliance shelter locations on December 13!  Please note our shelters are open 12pm-6pm and pets will be available at Reed from 4pm-7pm.

Louie at Reed Nissan (2)Reed Nissan is a longtime supporter of the Pet Alliance and the organization’s two shelters. Currently, the dealership donates a portion of sales from each car sold to PAGO, a pledge that raised more than $100,000 in 2014. Reed Nissan’s donation directly supported projects dedicated to the safety and well-being of the animals, including play yard sun shades—critical for the animals enduring the hot Florida weather.

Last year’s first 90-day Adopt-a-Thon resulted in adoptions of over 2,000 dogs, cats and other pets from October through December.  The 2016 Adopt-a-Thon encourages and challenges the central Florida community to adopt a pet in need of a safe and happy FURever home.

“We are ecstatic to be working with our friends at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando as sponsor of another 90-Day Adopt-a-Thon,” said Aaron Hill, General Manager of Reed Nissan and Reed Nissan Clermont. “Last year our community responded overwhelmingly to the importance of finding families for thousands of pets through their support of this event.”

“Our Reed Nissan associates at both of our stores are excited to help the Pet Alliance find even more FURever homes for these animals in need.”

The Reed Nissan Pet Rescue 90-day Adopt-a-Thon officially kicked off October 1 and will continue through December 31. The dealer encourages the community to visit the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando adoption centers during this 90-day event.

“To see a homeless dog or cat experience his or her ride home from the animal shelter to a new FURever home is the best feeling ever. It’s what we at the Pet Alliance want to see for every single pet,” said Fraily Rodriguez, Vice President of Operations at the Pet Alliance. “We know that together with Reed Nissan, we can help 2,000 pets make their way Home for the Holidays.”

To learn more about the Reed Nissan Pet Rescue Project and see dogs and cats that are currently available for adoption through the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, please visit



About Reed Nissan

For over 65 years, Floridians have come to respect Reed Nissan’s commitment to excellent customer service which has led to six Circle of Excellence Awards – one of the only large volume dealerships to receive this prestigious honor from Nissan North America. By building relationships with customers and the community, Reed Nissan continues to grow as a family business and as a top Nissan dealership family offering the finest selection, service and value to its customers. Reed Nissan is located at 3776 West Colonial Drive, Orlando and Reed Nissan Clermont is located at 16005 State Road 50, Clermont. and


About Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando

As the go-to pet experts across Central Florida, the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando does good things for dogs and cats and the people who love them. Formerly the SPCA of Central Florida, the organization’s goal is to provide compassionate and knowledgeable services for pets and to be leaders in innovative animal care and veterinary medicine. Visit for more information.


National Cat Day

The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando is doing it’s part to break the Internet with cat cuteness on National Cat Day (Thursday, October 29th). All day at our Orlando and Sanford shelters, you’ll be able to adopt a cat or kitten at no charge!

NCDimageWe understand many of you may already have a cat (or three!) but we still want you involved!

Here are the Top 10 ways you can help on National Cat Day, if you can’t adopt:

  1. Help spread the cuteness!  Share adoptable pet photos from the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando on Facebook and encourage friends and family to do the same.
  2. Make sure your pet is spayed or neutered.  We cannot stress how important this to preventing additional unwanted pets.
  3. Celebrating a birthday? Running a 5K? Any special day can be donated to help pets in our area!  Create a page today and then share it with friends and family.  It’s fun and easy!
  4. Buy your cat a new toy to keep them active!  Did you know?  Both Pet Alliance locations have retail stores that offer discounted prices on pet supplies.  Plus 100% of proceeds go back into our shelters!
  5. Start a donation drive in your office for shelters.  Our wish list has many items such as blankets and towels that you may already have.
  6. Microchip your pet! By reuniting lost pets with their owners, we reduce the stress on local shelters in the area.
  7. Subscribe to our newsletter!  Once a month you’ll get an email with pet health articles, local events, and more!
  8. Sign up to volunteer at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. We have shelters in Orlando and Sanford with opportunities in a variety of areas including photography, fostering, helping with special events or just being advocates for us in the community.
  9. Purchase an Orlando Firefighters & Rescued Pets calendar! This 14-month calendar features full color photos of shelter cats and dogs with an Orlando Firefighter. 100% of proceeds benefit homeless pets.
  10. Tweet about it! This is a great start: “Celebrate #NationalCatDay! Check out @PetAllianceGO’s pets now:”

Pet Rescue Weekend

pet031_Calendar-COVERJoin us at the Orlando Bloomingdale’s on Saturday, November 14th for our Pet Rescue Weekend!

Enjoy a VIP meet-and-greet with the Orlando Firefighters from our Orlando Firefighters & Rescued Pets calendar, as well as our adoptable pets from 11am – 5pm.  Purchase your 2016 calendar and have it autographed by your favorite Firefighter – the perfect gift for the pet lover in your life!

Bloomingdale’s Orlando is pleased to donate 10% of supporter’s total tracked sales back to the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando on both Saturday, November 14 and Sunday, November 15, 2015.


Photo credit: The Orlando Sentinel.

Hard Rock Pet Pins

OrlandoPinHRAnimal shelters in Florida are inundated with homeless pets year-round.  In Orlando, as many as 40,000 homeless dogs and cats will enter the city’s two animal shelters this year alone.

The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando and Hard Rock International have joined forces to draw attention to the plight of homeless pets in the Sunshine State by launching a collectible Shelter Pet Pin Series.  Each segment of the brilliantly colored guitar shaped pin represents a dog or cat adopted from a Florida animal shelter.  When the set of six is collected, the shelter pet pins fit together to form a beautiful mosaic of dogs and cats.

A unique pin is available at each participating locations; Hard Rock Cafe Orlando, Hard Rock Cafe Key West, Hard Rock Cafe Miami, Hard Rock Cafe Tampa and Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood, FL. Proceeds from each pin sold in Orlando directly benefit the pet adoption programs at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

“The Shelter Pet Pin series is a fun and unique way for Hard Rock fans to show their support for pet projects in the community,” says Fraily Rodriguez, Vice President of Community Outreach for the Pet Alliance.  “Funds raised by the sale of these pins in Orlando directly benefit the more than 400 homeless dogs and cats in our care every day.”

“Hard Rock International has a long-established history of promoting social awareness and raising funds for global and local causes,” said Keely Wade, Philanthropy & Marketing Manager for Hard Rock International.  “We believe in supporting our community, and we’re all animal lovers here at Hard Rock, so we’re excited about expanding the partnership with animal shelters in each of the five Florida Hard Rock Cafe communities.”

Collect all six to complete the set.  A different pin design is featured at each of the participating Hard Rock Cafes and online at


About Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando

As the go-to pet experts for Central Florida, the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando does good things for dogs and cats and the people who love them. Formerly the SPCA of Central Florida, the organization’s goal is to provide compassionate and knowledgeable services for pets and to be leaders in innovative animal care and veterinary medicine. More than 7,000 homeless dogs and cats turned to the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando for caring, compassion, and hope through its two animal shelters last year. Highly skilled veterinarians will help and heal an additional 45,000 animals through two veterinary clinics. Providing shelter for animals in crisis, disaster response efforts, and pet food pantry programs for dogs and cats in need, thousands of additional animals are helped each year. Visit for more information.

About Hard Rock International

With a total of 200 venues in 64 countries, including 154 cafes, 21 hotels and 10 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s greatest collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise, Hard Rock Live performance venues and an award-winning website. HRI owns the global trademark for all Hard Rock brands. The company owns, operates and franchises Cafes in iconic cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Dubai. HRI also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel/casino properties worldwide. Destinations include the company’s two most successful Hotel and Casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood, Fl., both owned and operated by HRI parent company The Seminole Tribe of Florida, as well as other exciting locations including Bali, Chicago, Cancun, Ibiza, Las Vegas, Macau and San Diego. Upcoming new Hard Rock Cafe locations include San Juan, Lagos and Busan, South Korea. New Hard Rock Hotel projects include Daytona Beach, Dubai, Los Cabos, Tenerife, Abu Dhabi, and Shenzhen and Haikou in China. For more information on Hard Rock International, visit

My Best Friend Finalists!

Join us at Quantum Leap Winery on Saturday, August 22nd to meet the finalist. RSVP now!

We are so excited to announce that Junior, Augusta, Lilly, Bella, Byron and Phillipe have been selected by popular vote as finalists in the 2015 ‘My Best Friend’ wine label contest.  For the first time every, we will have six finalists because Byron and Phillipe were tied with 1,210 votes each!

Please join us on Saturday, August 22 at Quantum Leap Winery from 11 am to 2 pm as we announce this year’s winner, RSVP now!



The 2015 Finalists

size2_23505Junior is my hero because he survived an inauspicious beginning to become a warm and loving friend. He was only 3 weeks old and 1.4 pounds when I found him shivering by the side of the road. With a lot of loving care and around the clock attention he thrived. On his first birthday this July 15th he weighs a healthy and happy 10 pounds and is grateful to have been rescued. He is the best buddy I ever had.




size2_22190As beautiful as she is, Augusta was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She was turned in to Orange Co. Animal Control by someone who found her outside, declawed, covered in fleas and severely underweight. Thanks to her microchip, they determined that this was the SECOND TIME she had been turned in! For the last three years, she has been in my care. Two years ago, an oil portrait of her was sold to benefit the SPCA. I think it’s wonderful that after her frightening start, she has retired to a life of ease and modeling.



size2_23632Lilly is truly the sweetest and most loving pet anyone could ask for. She is a Beagle/Jack Russell mix that loves to cuddle, play and just hangout with the family. She and her 4 siblings were found abandoned and spent their first 8 weeks of life on their death beds being treated for malnutrition and Parvo. They were not even given names because they weren’t expected to survive. Luckily, we saw puppy #4 at a rescue event and it was puppy love at first sight.




size2_23622We were not looking to get a dog, especially a St. Bernard, but when we saw Bella we immediately knew we wanted her as part of our family! We rescued Bella a year and a half ago but in actuality, she has rescued us. Our son moved back in with us this year and she has provided much loyalty, companionship, unconditional love, hugs and kisses when he needed it most. We are so blessed to have Bella in our family…she is truly a best friend to each of us and we don’t know what we would do without her!




size2_23562My dog Byron is my hero because no matter what he greets me with a wagging tail and a smile. No really, he literally smiles by pulling his top lips above his teeth. No matter what kind of day I have had, he immediately makes it better. He is everything a gal could want in a best friend. He is loyal, protective, positive, forgiving and non-judgmental. How many humans do you know that you can say the same for?




size2_23280Phillipe was surrendered to Pet Alliance in his older years. His new family couldn’t be happier with their furry family member! At 15 years old, he still loves to play, go to the dog park and have his back scratched. His favorite activity is visiting his friends at Orlando Health and Rehab, where he is a pet therapy dog. Phillipe brings joy to all who meet him and ask, “is he a puppy!” Phillipe asks you to adopt from Pet Alliance – his many friends there are waiting to fulfill your life with love and joy… 🐾 Please visit today!