Cancer in Dogs

Knowing more about dog diseases can help prevent these diseases.

The common illnesses among dog are cancer, diabetes, heartworm, kennel cough, parvo virus,  rabies and ringworm, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA ).

It is important for dog owners to recognize the signs and symptoms of common illnesses to be able to get immediate help from the vet.

Cancer is one disease that scares anyone.

Cancer in Dogs
Sage, a brown asong Pinoy, was rescued from the Cainta pound in 2014 by Save ALL Inc. He was exposed to several illnesses. He was only 2-3 years old then. Today, at 7-8 years old, he has a smalll growth in his chest area. The doctor said to observe the growth. If it becomes bigger, he suggests a biopsy. For now, he is given a healthy diet that boosts his immune system.
“When that loved one is your dog, it’s important to keep in mind that different veterinarians might have different views on the best way to treat the disease. It’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion, perhaps from a veterinary oncologist, and carefully review your options, “ ASPCA said.

What is cancer?

“Cancer is a class of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably, invade (the) surrounding tissue and may spread to other areas of the body. As with people, dogs can get various kinds of cancer. The disease can be localized (confined to one area, like a tumor) or generalized (spread throughout the body), “ ASPCA said.

What causes cancer?

Not one factor causes cancer.

“Cancer is a ‘multifactorial’ disease, which means it has no known single cause. However, we do know that both hereditary and environmental factors can contribute to the development of cancer in dogs.” ASPCA said.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms, ASPCA said, may include:

· Lumps (these are not always malignant, but please ask your vet to examine your dog)

· Swelling

· Persistent sores

· Abnormal discharge from  one part of the body

· Bad breath

· Listlessness/lethargy

· Rapid, and often unexplained weight loss

· Sudden lameness

· Black and tarry stools (this is a symptom of ulcers  which  may be caused by mast cell tumors)

· Decreased or loss of appetite

· Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating

How is cancer diagnosed?

ASPCA said a vet will usually recommend a needle biopsy If a lump is present.

Through this, a very small tissue sample is taken from the lump for microscopic examination of cells, it added.

Surgery may be done to remove all or part of  the lump for diagnosis by a pathologist, ASPCA said.

Other tests may be done--- radiographs (xrays), ultrasound, blood evaluation and other diagnostic tests—to determine  if cancer is present or if it has spread.

Which dogs are more prone to cancer?

Cancer is common in older dogs, even though it can be diagnosed in dogs of all ages and breeds, ASPCA said.

ASPCA identified some breeds prone to specific cancers:  

1. Boxers, Boston terriers and Golden Retrievers are some of the breeds that most commonly develop mast cell tumors or lymphoma.

2.  Large and giant breeds like Great Danes and Saint Bernards are more prone to developing bone cancer than smaller breeds.

“It is important to be familiar with the diseases to which your dog might have a breed disposition,” ASPCA said.

How can cancer be prevented?

Here are some tips from ASPCA:

1. Have your dog “altered” at a young age to dramatically reduce the chance of getting certain types of cancer.

2. Breast cancer can be avoided almost completely when a dog is spayed before her first heat cycle, while a neutered male dog has a zero chance of developing testicular cancer.

How is cancer in dog treated?

Treatment options are different depending on the type and stage of cancer.

Common treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy or a combination of therapies. 

“Success of treatment depends on the type and extent of the cancer and the aggressiveness of the therapy. Of course, early detection is best, “ ASPCA said.

There are dog owners who opt not to have their dog treated, ASPCA noted.

If this is the decision,  palliative end of life care, including pain relief, should be considered. 

ASPCA stressed, “Regardless of how you proceed after a diagnosis of cancer in your pet, it is very important to consider his quality of life when making future decisions.”

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: There are types of cancer that can be cured, while there is a kind of cancer that has no cure.

“Please note that if your dog’s cancer is not curable, there are still many things you can do to make your pet feel better. Don’t hesitate to talk to your vet about your options. And remember good nutrition and loving care can greatly enhance your dog’s quality of life, “ ASPCA stressed.

When should a pet owner consult the vet?


Once your dog shows any of the clinical signs or symptoms, please contact your vet immediately.

“Should your dog receive a diagnosis of cancer, you may wish to consult a veterinary oncologist, often employed by specialty veterinary practices and teaching hospitals, “ ASPCSA said.  

Next week: Diabetes in dogs

Topics: Cancer in Dogs , American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , ASPCA
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