Believe It or Not: Petplan Sheds Light on Five Common Pet Cancer Myths

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Petplan’s veterinarians reveal the truth about pet cancer risks, treatment and more.

The Animal Cancer Foundation estimates that nearly 12 million pets are diagnosed with cancer each year. But despite the prevalence of the disease, many pet parents have misconceptions about everything from their furry friend’s cancer risk to how the disease is treated.

Petplan pet insurance released a list of five of the most common cancer myths—and tapped their expert veterinarians, Dr. Ernie Ward and Dr. Kim Smyth, for their insight into busting them.

myth 1 - Only dogs get cancer.
busted! - Dr. Ward Says: All animals can get cancer. It can strike at any age in any pet.
fact - 50% of dogs and 30% of cats will be affected by a tumor in their lifetimes.*

myth 2 - It’s too expensive to treat cancer in pets.
busted! - Dr. Smyth says: While treating cancer isn’t cheap, pet insurance can prevent the burden of the bill.
fact - Average cost** to treat cancer: dogs - $1,950, cats - $2,751

myth 3 - Cancer treatment has terrible side effects for pets.
busted! - Dr. Smyth says: Pets don’t experience the devastating side effects of chemo the way humans do.
fact - Pet parents rate their pet’s quality of life during chemotherapy as 8.9 out of 10, with 10 being the best possible quality of life.***

myth 4 - Only purebred dogs get cancer, and they’re safe if there’s no cancer in their lineage.
busted! - Dr. Ward says: Only a small percentage of cancers are due to inherited traits.
fact - Cancer is a complex disease with both genetic and environmental effects at play. It is caused by genetic mutations, the majority of which aren't inherited.

myth 5 - There's nothing I can do to prevent cancer in my pet.
busted! - There’s no way to prevent cancer 100%, you can do plenty to reduce your pet’s risk.
fact - Dr. Ward says: Spaying or neutering your furry friend, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding environmental carcinogens like cigarette smoke and feeding a high-quality, nutritionally complete diet can help reduce cancer risk.

“Cancer is such an emotionally loaded word, but a diagnosis doesn’t have to mean the end for a sick pet,” says Natasha Ashton, co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan. “Today’s veterinary medicine can do more now than ever before to treat cancers and support quality of life along the way.”

“One of our favorite claims stories is a dog named Libby, who had a localized bone cancer called an osseous plasmacytoma. Because the tumor was inoperable, her mom pursued cyberknife radiation—a cutting-edge therapy even in human medicine—and reports that Libby has continued to do well after the treatment. She’s playing ball and chasing squirrels; you’d never know she had cancer. By dispelling commonly believed myths about the disease, we want to communicate to pet parents that there are options, and there is always hope.”

For info about Petplan and more fetching pet facts, point your paws to

*source: The Cancer Center at CARES
**source: Petplan claims data 2015
***source: University of Pennsylvania pet owner survey


Petplan has built the industry’s leading pet insurance for pet parents who demand a higher pedigree of care for their best friends. We’ve leveraged 40 years of global experience to create completely customizable coverage pet parents can feel confident in, and world-class claims service that’s second to none — 24 hours a day, every day.

Petplan’s innovative approach to pet insurance has been recognized by Forbes, Financial Times, Bloomberg, Inc. magazine, Smart CEO, the Communicator Awards, Ernst & Young and many others.

Petplan policies are underwritten in the U.S. by XL Specialty Insurance Company, and in Canada by XL Specialty Insurance Company – Canadian Branch. The company is rated A+ by S&P. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit or call 1-866-467-3875.

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Greg Wiley
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