Cancer 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.