Cancer in dogs is more widespread than we think. Dog breeds are increasingly living longer because our pets are generally better cared for, with better feed and cancer treatments allowing for accurate diagnosis; this generates an increase in the years of our pet’s life. Just like their humans, dogs are also at risk for developing different types of cancer, including lymphoma and even breast cancer.
Maybe one day, while stroking your dog, you notice a subcutaneous lump that you had never noticed. So you take him to the clinic, and the vet tells you it’s a tumor.
Is a tumor a form of cancer? Well, it is an abnormal growth of certain cells in the body. This growth can remain contained and be benign, or it can possibly develop more and interfere with the proper functioning of tissues and organs in the dog. So, they are considered a type of cancer.
Why does it happen, and how do I recognize it?
We live in a world where we are exposed to all kinds of factors and risks that can accumulate in our pet’s body and can cause cancer.
There are also dog breeds that are genetically more prone than others to developing tumors.
Like humans, dogs are also living longer, which implies an increased risk of cancer. Fifty percent of dogs over the age of 10 develop cancer at some point in their lives.
What is clear is that spaying your dog before two years of age reduces the risk of developing breast tumors. Breast cancer is one of the most prominent forms of cancer in dogs. There is a popular belief that cancer only affects older large breed dogs. This is not true! Medium and small or dwarf breeds also suffer from canine cancer as well. What is true is that malignant tumors become evident at advanced ages, but most of these growths usually start early in the dog’s life without being noticed.
What are Symptoms and Signs of Cancer in Dogs?
What are the signs of cancer in dogs? The following is a list of the most common symptoms and warning signs of cancer in dogs:
- Weight loss and loss of desire to eat.
- Inactivity and excess or lack of sleep.
- Inability to breathe; gets very tired and is weak.
- Regular digestive disorders.
- Sudden lameness.
These symptoms and warning signs are common to other pathologies as well, so it is difficult to diagnose cancer by symptoms only. You should always take your pet to the vet when dealing with these problems, and the vet will tell you if it is a malignant tumor or a different disease.
How does the vet diagnose cancer in dogs?
It is not easy to diagnose canine cancer. First, the vet will do blood tests and conduct diagnostic images like as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or an ultrasound if necessary. They will also do a biopsy to study the sample under a microscope.
With all this, they will see if the tumor is malignant and how prevalent it is in the dog’s body. They will know based on the development of cancer and the dog’s age how successful treatment will be. This is very important because these growths develop slowly, and when we finally realize it, it may already be too late.
What are Treatments For A Dog With Cancer
How is canine cancer treated? If your dog has a benign tumor, it will most likely be removed, but if the tumor is reproducing through tissues, the treatment will be different depending on the type of cancer in question, how long it has been growing, and where the growth is spreading.
In extreme cases, the vet may ask you to seriously consider the possibility of euthanasia. However, this will always be the last option and only recommended in severe cases and if your dog is advanced in age.
Surgeries to remove canine cancer are usually recommended by the vet for common cancers like skin cancer and benign tumor growth. However, sometimes the tumor grows back.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are also common cancer treatments in veterinary medicine. However, these cancer treatments rarely manage to kill the dog’s cancer, but they slow down the cancer growth and minimize symptoms.
But remember that these treatments come along with many visits to the veterinary clinic, anesthesia, and pain relievers, and the inconvenience and discomfort that all this generates for your dog.
What are Common Types cancers in dogs?
What are the most common types of cancer in dogs?
- Mammary Cancer
Regardless of whether your dog is purebred or a mongrel, the most common types of cancer are the same.
Mammary cancer or breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in dogs. Spaying females before the age of two minimizes the risk of mammary cancer quite a bit. However, often when it is diagnosed, it is already prevalent in the dog’s body and is metastasizing. It can be removed by surgery, however, it depends on the state of the tumor.
Lymphoma is another common form of cancer in dogs. It usually develops in the lymph nodes or in the bone marrow. It affects the pet’s immune system and spreads through tissues very quickly. So it is crucial that you act fast. It is most common in 6-9-year-old dogs and usually begins with a swollen lymph node in the neck or behind the knees.
Melanoma is another common form of canine cancer. It is a type of skin cancer that usually appears in the mouth, referred to as oral melanoma. It is a very aggressive malignant tumor, and it spreads to the dog’s organs very quickly. If you find sores in your dog’s mouth or swollen paws, run to the vet!
Hemangiosarcoma cancer can exist in the blood vessels of dogs. It is one of the most common malignant tumors found in dogs, and it usually attacks the spleen, liver, and heart. This form of cancer usually manifests late and is typical to progress to treat by the time it is discovered.
Osteosarcoma bone cancer is a form of cancer in dogs that affects large dog breeds and tends to spread rapidly throughout the body. It usually affects the extremities. If you notice severe lameness or swelling of the limbs, it could be osteosarcoma.
Mast cell cancer or mast cell tumors (a type of white blood cell) affects the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscle tissue. This type of cancer is usually common in older dogs and causes the dog’s defenses to attack the body itself. This is typically accompanied by skin lesions.
Nowadays, treatments against cancer in dogs have improved significantly but it is frequent that the animal is at an advanced age and despite treatment, sees its well-being and quality of life drastically reduced. Then, what should you do?
Sometimes euthanizing the dogs is the only option. Both the vet and you should agree on this option if your dog has little hope for recovery or the cancer is widespread and only causes pain and suffering. Normally, a veterinarian is reluctant to euthanize, except in extreme cases.
If your dog, despite cancer, has an acceptable quality of life and responds well to treatment, even if it is incurable, you don’t have to sacrifice it; only in severe cases. It is only recommended if treatment is not effective, and the animal suffers a lot.
What is the Life expectancy For a Dog with cancer
What is the life expectancy of a dog with cancer? It just depends on the type of cancer, the immune system, and your dog’s age. As in humans, many malignant tumors can be treated or can be kept at bay and allow for a good quality of life for your pet. Others, on the other hand, are very aggressive and spread quickly through the body. In these cases, there is little to do. So remember. It is best to prevent them! Take your pet to the vet regularly and always pay attention to your dog’s health. If you discover any evidence of symptoms related to cancer that we have described above, run to the vet without hesitation.
And remember, if you want to grow your family by introducing a dog into your home, always adopt and do not buy. The animal shelters are saturated with pets that end up being euthanized.