Cancer in dogs
Similarly to humans, cancer is the leading cause of death among older dogs. It accounts for approximately 50% of deaths each year but can be successfully treated if diagnosed early. The medical science that studies cancer in animals is called veterinary oncology and veterinarians that specialize in cancer diagnosis and treatment are called veterinary oncologists.
As with people, dogs can get various kinds of cancer. Cancer in dogs is one of the leading cause of deaths in dogs but it can be successfully treated.
Cancer is a multifactorial disease, which means it has no known single cause. However, we do know that hereditary and environmental factors can contribute to the development of cancer in dogs.
Symptoms of cancer in dogs may include:
- Lumps (which are not always malignant, but should always be examined by a vet)
- Persistent sores
- Abnormal discharge from any part of the body
- Bad breath
- Rapid, often unexplained weight loss
- Sudden lameness
- Weight loss
- Offensive odor
- Black, tarry stools (a symptom of ulcers, which can be caused by mast cell tumors)
- Decreased or loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
Older dogs are much more likely to develop cancer than younger ones, and certain breeds are prone to specific kinds of cancers. Boxers, Boston Terriers and Golden Retrievers are among the breeds that most commonly develop mass cell tumors. Large and giant breeds, like Great Danes and Saint Bernards, are much more likely to suffer from bone cancer than smaller breeds. It is important to be familiar with the diseases to which your dog might have a breed predisposition.
Treatment options vary and depend on the type and stage of cancer. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. A combination of therapies may be used. Success of treatment depends on the form and extent of the cancer and the aggressiveness of the therapy. Of course, early detection is best.
Some dog owners opt for no treatment of the cancer at all, in which case palliative care, including pain relief, should be offered. 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. Some cancers can be cured, and almost all patients can receive at least some benefit from treatment. 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 don't forget that good nutrition and loving care from all the members of your family can greatly enhance your dog's quality of life.
- "Pet Care Cancer". ASPCA.
- Holistic and Alternative Treatments for Dog Cancer from Dr. Steven Eisen, DC
- Cancer Treatment Drugs and Costs for Dog Cancer
- Dog Cancer Blog written by Veterinarian Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM
- Comprehensive guide to cancer in dogs from Pet Cancer Center
- Pet Cancer Awareness
- Tomotherapy and Chemotherapy Treatment for Dog Cancer
- Cancer in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment from Pet Education
- Cancer in the Canine from Wing-N-Wave Labradors