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Fighting the Big C

Davi & Jeannie Blaylock offer tips on how to handle cancer


My friend Rosie was recently diagnosed with cancer. When asked what else she has, I answered: “She has a joyful spirit, a friendly disposition, and an appetite for adventure.” I may not be an expert, but I know that pets, like people, are more than a diagnosis and oh-so-much-more than a set of symptoms.

Nobody wants to hear the “c-word,” but unfortunately, cancer is the second leading cause of death in older animals. One in four dogs is diagnosed with canine cancer.

First Coast News Anchor Jeannie Blaylock understands and has launched an early detection effort aimed at helping people find cancer in their pets so it can be caught early. It’s called Doggy Check and it could save the pet you love.



Davi: What drove you to start Doggy Check?

Jeannie Blaylock: Doggy Check started because I absolutely adore our dog, Riley. When Riley got cancer and we found it early, I thought, “I just have to share this with everyone on the news!”


How did Doggy Check save your dog’s life?

One night my daughter was petting Riley’s ears and noticed a hard lump. My internal alarms went off. We asked the veterinarian to test the lump and the lab report came back that it was indeed cancer. But here’s the great news—it was caught early! Riley lost part of his ear, but that’s OK. His pathology report was good, and he doesn’t need any cancer treatment.


How do you know if a dog or cat might have cancer?

You don’t know, unless a veterinarian runs tests, typically a biopsy or needle aspiration. Scans for internal organs can help vets with their search for cancer, as well.


How can regular doggy check-ups help detect cancer?

Dr. LaDue at Sevo-Med says the trick is to check for lumps and bumps and swellings while petting your pet. It’s good to be aware of what you’re feeling.


How do you check for tumors?

Here’s the Doggy Check FURRY method:

F is for Feet: Spread your dog’s toes apart and check under his paws.

U is for Under: Look under his belly and rub under his neck.

R is for Raise the Tail: Look for swelling or lumps or anything different in the rump area.

R is for Raise the Ears: Lift his ears and look inside. Check outside, too.

Y is for the Yapper: Lift his lips and check inside his mouth for lumps or bleeding or a bad smell.


If you find a bump or lump, what’s next?

Contact your veterinarian—the earlier the better! I’ve learned that pet owners tend to notice when something isn’t normal. If cancer is internal and there’s no swelling or bump, you might notice lethargy, loss of appetite or changes in habits.


Cancer is scary, but you don’t have to live in fear of it. Remember, just because your pet has been diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean he’s been given an instant death sentence. The fact that dogs live beyond age 10 is a great indication of how far veterinary medicine has advanced. So, track your pet’s health, and see the vet if you notice something. The rest of the time should be spent tail-wagging to the fullest with your four-legged friend.

If you catch cancer early in your pet, please let me know. You can also email Jeannie at


Davi the Dachshund is glad his mom knows the FURRY Method and he wants to spread the word to all pets and their families.

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