Ten Early Warning Signs of Canine Cancer

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goldenoldieCancer essentially refers to an uncontrolled cell growth on or in the body. It may either be localized, or invade neighboring tissues and then spread all the way through the body. This serious disease is potential in most household animals, and the incidence increases with age. Dogs often get cancer at almost the same rate as humans, and the condition has been found to account for nearly half of the deaths of pets which are more than 10 years old.

How Common is Canine Cancer?

Cancer in dogs has become especially prevalent in aging pooches. As a matter of fact, 50% of dogs over the age of 10 years have developed cancer at some point in their lifetime. Malignant lymphomas (a lymph node tumor), skin cancers (like mast cell tumor), or breast cancer (also called mammary gland tumor) are quite common in elderly dogs. Even soft tissue sarcomas and some fair incidences of bone cancer can also be seen in dogs. New estimates show cancer as the ultimate cause of death in one in five dogs.

Most Common Symptoms

1. Abnormal swelling/s that continue to grow
2. Sores that never heal
3. Loss of appetite
4. Weight loss
5. Bleeding or discharge from any opening in the body
6. Offensive odor
7. Difficulty eating or swallowing
8. Loss of stamina or hesitation to exercise
9. Persistent stiffness or lameness
10. Difficulty breathing, urinating, and defecating

How to Keep Your Dog from Developing Cancer

Unfortunately, the main cause of most canine cancers is still not known; thus, making prevention very difficult. Nevertheless, for those cancer types that are largely preventable, you can try the following:

· Spaying or Neutering. The biggest thing that you can do to prevent your pooch from getting this disease is by spaying her. Having your dog undergo this surgery as late as possible, BUT prior to her first heat cycle will reduce the probability of her developing mammary cancer eight-fold, simply due to the hormonal influence.

· A healthy, species appropriate diet. Its no coincidence that the prevalence of cancers in dogs has increased along with the growth of the commercial dog food industry. Choose to feed your pet a premium, high quality food that is sourced and made in the USA or Canada, not from China where regulations and quality control are lacking.

· Avoid exposing your dog to pollutants. Cancer isn’t something that your dog “catches,” but rather, it is something that begins to grow inside his body. Avoid putting any undo stress on your dog’s body by limiting his exposure to pollutants such as second-hand cigarette smoke, chemicals and dangerous household cleansers, smog, fumes, etc.

· Good oral hygiene. This can aid in reducing the risk of developing oral cancers. And, if you intend on buying a purebred pooch, check his line to find out if there’s any kind of cancer that prevails in the family tree.

· Early diagnosis and treatment. Overall, cancer prevention is kind of difficult since we don’t really know the causes of the disease. As a result, owners have to be alert when it comes to spotting the symptoms early and then treating them very quickly so that the severity of the disease can be avoided. Regular annual veterinary exams and bloodwork are an excellent way to catch cancers early. In many cases, by the time symptoms are obvious, the cancer is difficult to treat. But, certain cancers can be detected early through blood tests.

Will My Pooch Die Once Diagnosed with Cancer?

Not necessarily. In fact, most of the canine cancers we see today can now be dealt with surgically. Lots of breast cancer, skin tumor, mast cell tumor, and soft tissue sarcoma cases can be removed with surgery, rendering the dog cancer-free. Even in situations where a cancer has advanced to the lymph nodes, there remain several options that can help in prolonging both his length and quality of life.

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When I adopted my shepherd mix, Molly, from a local shelter 12 years ago, I had no idea the impact she would have on my life. Through Molly, I've learned to be more patient, experienced unconditional love, been alerted to the mailman and every squirrel within a block radius of the house, and ingested enough fur to build 3 or 4 more dogs! When I lost Molly to cancer just a few months ago, I adopted Olive, a 13 week old Golden Retriever. Together, we smile at least a hundred times a day!


  1. There is also new research (over 1300 studies) showing that an organic substance derived from specific seaweed species called fucoidan has anti-cancer properties and inhibits tumor growth. There is a supplement for pets called Fucopia that contains fucoidan, and they have the research studies available on their site. It also helps older pets to relieve arthritis inflammation.

  2. I always get a little crazy when I see spay & neuter as the be all end all for canine problems. There are reams of research regarding keeping dogs intact for as long as possible so that they live healthier lives. I will mention one….spayed & neutered dogs are 2x as likely to develop osteosarcoma as intact dogs. In Rottweilers, it’s 4 x. This does not mean don’t spay & neuter, it just means don’t assume s/n is always a good thing, especially if done early. Do your research, talk to your veterinarian. This is a start. http://www.rottweilerhealth.org/dr_waters.html http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10498 http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2014/06/13/neutering-spaying-cancer-risk.aspx

    • AMEN! I have dismissed this entire article based on that. Finally more and more people realize that spay and neuter is the cause and not the answer!

  3. Many grocery store pet foods today are sadly lacking in the vegetation that has natural cancer fighting compounds. You can still add these as a powdered supplement to wet food or yogurt though. My family pets always get a berry powder supplement when I see them. If you have a pet with cancer it’s worth trying to add cancer shrinking food to their diet. Sometimes pets are just old that their defenses are worn down, but in other situations you could extend their life with some food additions. I have links to scientific studies supporting this in my blog post on this subject.

  4. Look at the foods we feed, many foods are corn based, most corn in the US is GMO and sprayed with Round Up (Glyphosate), because the corn is resistant to Round Up (Glyphosate). Round Up (Glyphosate) has been very heavily linked to cancer. The meats in the dog foods are from factory farms, what are those animals feed, corn. Spray your yard with Round Up (Glyphosate)? They are exposed yet again.

  5. By the way my Miss Petey was 10 years old and I had her since she was 1 month old puppy. I ordered a tomb stone for her where my husband buried her in our back yard. I dreamed of her the next day. I saw her smiling with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. She looked so happy in my dream. I guess that was her telling me she is OK now and for me not to worry. I now do not want another pet no time soon. This was so hard for me.

  6. My family and I adopted our Boxer Moomoo when he was five weeks old. He is now six years old and one of the greatest joys of our lives. The night before last we noticed a very large lump on his chest, it didn’t seem to bother him so though we were still worried we just decided to wait until Monday to take him to the vet. It is now Sunday, my vet is out of office, the pet hospitals are closed and the lump seems to have spread to his right armpit, hes been limping all morning. I have done so much research this morning, but have gotten nowhere in my search for information. I just wanted to see if maybe you have an idea of what it could be i will be taking him to his vet first thing in the morning, I would just like some information now… The lump is very firm, softball size and warm to the touch. It did not seem to cause him discomfort until this morning. he had a very small quarter sized spot in that area that he has had for a few months, it had not grown until this weekend so I figured it was just a little fatty tissue. The area under his armpit is squashier. Please, any information would help. Thank you.

    • I hope by now you have been able to get you Beloved into a vet who knows MUCH about cancer. You would be surprised as to how many do not and they live in a box, meaning they can’t think outside the box. My Beloved Muraco, this is in short very short as it is a long story, it was like one day a .50 cent piece size tumor suddenly was exposed. The vet told me not to have it removed that it would just come back again and bigger, and to spray some stuff on it to help the skin grow back over the tumor. Thinking this was like so many tumors that start showing up around 6 years of age, I thought it was just one of those things that show up around this age and my Beloved would be just fine. After about a month it didn’t seem to be growing much but suddenly it became infected, giving my Beloved antibiotics suggested by the vet, some of which even I knew wouldn’t be helpful for skin irritations and infections, I sought out a friend, a human doctor, who told me he had experience with dog’s and told me which antibiotic would help. Another month went by and the infection was not subsiding and by this time the tumor began to grow. I suddenly got a punch in my gut that something was seriously wrong with my Beloved and the only, somewhat competent, vet around my area was all I had. In the meantime my Beloved began to have congestive Heart failure due to the medicine he has been on for a few years due to his hind end pain, yes Meloxicam. I took him off the Meloxicam in hopes to stabilize his heart, he had three more episodes of the congestive Heart failure and when I provided slides to the vet for his tumor, the vet said he would have to run blood tests and he would have to have a strong Heart to be a candidate for surgery to remove the tumor. Well, with my experience with congestive Heart failure I truly felt he wouldn’t make it through surgery and by this time it was aggressively growing larger by leaps and bounds. I found out from the slides the infection was to great to determine what type of tumor my Beloved had. After two weeks on the correct antibiotic the infection was gone, but by this time the tumor had grown so much and with his congestive Heart failure in question if he would make it out of surgery my options were becoming limited. I sent in new slides of my Beloveds tumor and it turned out to be a rare mast cell that was an aggressively growing cancer. In just two months it was the size of a softball and every 9 days it triples in size now and he has cancer in his lymph nodes and a small lump that was growing in between the main tumor and his lymph node is catching up with the main cancer. Less than a month ago he was stage III cancer, he is now beyond stages but is a happy Dog, and I am managing his pain for his hind end. He is not in pain from the actual cancer but the histamine being released into his body is havoc on his body. The cancer is now just about the size of a football. I have maybe days, a week, I am hopeful a month with my Beloved. Moral of this story is, in short, DON’T LISTEN TO THE FIRST DIAGNOSES get another opinion and another and use discernment as to what resonates with you and do much research. I have found that I have learned more about cancer these days then the vets in my area and the Hospital well, it was too late. My Beloveds brother, a week after his brother was diagnosed with cancer, he was diagnosed with bone cancer and his toe was removed, the vet says he is cancer free, but I do not believe this, I want to, but how can he say this unless he did a whole body x-ray. Now, I am facing possibly more cancer in his opposite leg and I can’t find out until I save up more many. I have spent over $3,000 in vet bills and medicine with the recent diagnoses and surgery removing a toe. Use discernment and if something does not resonate get another opinion. But in all this you need to act quickly, in just two months it was potentially just a tumor to remove, and it was a stage III cancer and now a beyond fatal cancer. I just found a lump in the third brothers mouth and I just hope I can get him in soon enough. Cancer is an epidemic in our Beloved Dogs, act quickly and be very careful with so called cure all vitamins, I learned the hard way reading a book “cancer survival kit” it is a push to sell his vitamins that don’t work and I found out are toxic to Dog’s. Use discernment there also.

  7. I’m sitting here in absolute pieces reading everyone’s comments :( my heart is breaking, my beautiful little Baggie is in the vets again this Tuesday morning for her third op this year and her second one in the last two months. Baggie is a six year old rescue cockapoo that I have had since she was around 6 months old. She is the most beautiful, gentle and loving little pooch you could ever meet <3 you would fall in love with her in an instant! It started last December when I found a lump under her nipple. The vet removed it and said it was a cancer but we had caught it very quick and he was confident it had all gone. Fast forward to ten months later, end of October just gone and I found another lump under a nipple on the other side of the last one. The vet decided it was best to do a full mammary strip and she has been doing really well these last couple of months other than a slight infection in the scar that antibiotics cleared up a few weeks ago. Then yesterday evening I looked at the scar and found a large, angry looking, purple sore on the scar and assumed it was another infection. I phoned the vet to get her checked and he said to bring her straight in. When he saw it he said as far as he was concerned it was another tumor :(( He also found other small lumps a little further down the scar and under the sore. So now my precious little Baggie who loves nothing more than being cuddled and playing football has to go back in and have her scar cut back open and have the lumps removed. I'm so upset and worried, I can't breathe when I think about it, I get so choked. I'm so scared that I'm allowing her to go through this 3rd op and it's just maybe an infection or something but surely the vet would be able to see if it was just an infection? Maybe I'm just looking for alternative reasons for the sore and the lumps:( I'm just so devistated and hurting so bad for my little Baggie. I can't ask the vet to do tests first as its xmas in a few days and would take too long for the results to come back so the vet said best thing to do, especially as it has appeared so quickly, is to operate and remove them. I'm just so scared for her to have a 3rd op in such a short amount of time especially as she is not totally healed from the mammary strip. She's still so happy and is pain free, thank God. She is currently playing in the garden with my wonderfully puppy like, 12 year old golden retriever. I just needed to get this off my chest in hope someone may be able to give me advice and assure me I'm doing the best thing for my little Baggie. X

  8. Whst is black salve? Our almost 25 year old lucy is an airdale terrier. We had her groomed April 2014 n the groomer accidently shaved off a mole or sore on the side of her beautiful face. She assured us it woukd heal up n you woukd never know she had shaved it off. WRONG…..today..12-11-2014…The dime size sore has niw consued the whole side of her beautiful face. It is a very large open sore and seeps constantly. And the smell has gotten almost unbearable as well as embarrassing. My whole house smells like the open wound. We gave tarps down to cover our carpet. What should we do. She still eats great n she takes a pill twice a day called vet pro which is a pain killer. She does not act like she is in pain. The live we have for her is so great n can’t imagine our life without her…but she looks do sad with the sore consuming her precious face. What is black salve n what does it fo?

    • Black salve is a drawing agent. I’ve never myself used it on an animal but I’ve used it on myself. I would call your vet before putting it on your dog’s face. It does work really well for pulling infection out but depending on how big the area of the sore I’m not sure I’d put it on it. Maybe bag balm or something with a gauze pad if possible.

    • Dear Connie,
      I am so sorry to hear about Lucy. 25! Wow!
      Sadly, I have heard dogs do not show their pain. It is a survival mechanism. If you have the means to do so, set up some method of filming her when she is alone, when she knows no one can see her, and see how she behaves then. You love her and don’t want her to suffer. Some vets are like some people. There’s the Good and/or bad. They profit from treating her. I’m sure yours does not, but what is Lucy’s quality of life. -and yours too for that matter. Eating is a good sign. I guess you can only trust her vet. I am preparing for my Babe to go in the near future. I only care for her quality of life. All the best wishes, karin

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