Cancer in Canines


dog breed that is prone to cancer

Cancer is the abnormality in the cell's normal process of division. An uncontrolled increase in the number of cells occurs, and these cells can originate and settle in any part of the body. However, if not controlled timely, these cells can enter the blood and spread to other parts of the body.


Dog cancer appears to be a fleshy cell mass that you can find under the coat/skin. However, some canine cancers can't be found under the skin; some cancers or cancerous masses can be found deep inside the body. The critical point is to determine the possibility of cancer as early as possible.


Most of the superficial cancers can be found easily. You can feel the tumor growth when petting or bathing your furry friend. It feels like a fleshy mass accumulated in an area. If you observe any accumulation of cells, immediately call your veterinarian so that he can take a sample and diagnose whether the cells are cancerous or not.


What are the causes of canine cancer?

This is the most frequent question asked by the pet parents: How does my dog develop cancer. I appreciate the concern and a quest to know the cause. However, it is challenging to answer the question accurately. The difficulty of accurately answering the question is because several genetic and environmental factors are responsible for developing cancer.


In addition, cancer can develop even years before the diagnosis, which makes it further difficult. Not to make it more complex, but we can only analyze the factors that increase cancer risk, and we can’t accurately describe the cause of cancer.


For example, nutrition, hormones, environmental carcinogens like smoke, waste, pesticides, UV light, radioactive waste, polluted areas and other factors can increase the risk of development of cancer in dogs.

Italian Spinone is prone to canine cancer

In addition, there are certain breeds in which we see more occurrence of a specific type of cancer than other breeds. The reason lies in genetic mutations occurring in germs cells and passing to offspring. Bernese Mountain Dogs, Rottweilers, and Italian Spinone are the top breeds who are prone to cancer.


How can you diagnose cancer?

Cancer is not as obvious as dehydration or temperature changes. Most of the time, cancers remain hidden or undiagnosed throughout life. Usually, cancers develop silently, and symptoms appear after years; therefore, its treatment becomes tough. However, you can diagnose some of the most common cancers by identifying the following symptoms.

· An accumulated cell mass under the skin identifies skin cancer

· Changes in bathroom habits may signify cancer of the urinary or gastrointestinal tract

· Your dog may get depressed or lethargic without apparent reason

· For deep cancer, you can observe deep abdominal swelling

· Your dog can express symptoms of pain without the presence of apparent disease

Dog cancer warning signs photo

These are some of the signs that can tell you there is some abnormality going on with your dog. However, in the end, only a veterinarian can tell whether your dog is suffering from cancer or not. Diagnosis completes after the confirmation of cancerous cells in the sample.

dog with lipomas or fatty tumors on its body

The photo to the left is a photo of a dog with lipomas. These are fatty lumps on the body that are easily moveable under the skin. They are benign tumors and are not cancerous. If you are worried about your pup that has a tumor like this, verifying with a vet is the best way to know if it is benign.



osteosarcoma in the dog
Photo credit: Fitzpatrick Referrals

Osteosarcomas will generally look the same, but will be attached to underlying structures (bones and tissues). Usually they are found near joints and resemble swelling. These lumps can also hinder walking and cause pain. These lumps are normally firmer than the squishy feeling of a lipoma.


Again, it is best to visit the vet to get a full diagnosis on this condition in your pup. If you notice any abnormal changes in your dog, it is always consult your vet.



What is the treatment of canine cancer?

The respective treatment of cancer depends on the type of cancer, the animal's health status, and the cost of therapy. There are certain health-related factors of the patient that determine the line of treatment for cancer.

1. Age

2. Type of tumour

3. General body health

4. Cancer stage

5. Biological status of tumour: benign or malignant


Life expectancy, health status, stage of cancer and prognosis is determined before starting the treatment of cancer. The lines of treatment are the same as the ones used in humans. Followings are the significant lines of treatment for canine cancer.

1. Chemotherapy

2. Surgery

3. Radiation therapy

4. Holistic therapy


Each line of treatment can be used to treat cancer separately, or different lines of treatment are used simultaneously for better results. However, it is not evident whether a single line of treatment will work better than a combined line of therapy. The different treatment approach is used in various types of cancers.


Frequently asked questions (FAQs) for canine cancer.


Q: Are dogs commonly affected by cancer? What are some common types of cancers in dogs?

American Veterinary Medical Association says that 25% of dogs worldwide are affected with cancer at any age of their life. However, fifty per cent of dogs above the age of 10 develop cancer. This is a huge percentage that signifies the importance of canine cancer. Its importance should not be ignored.


Cancers are of various types; however, there are some cancers that most commonly affect dogs. Mast cell tumor, which is commonly known as skin cancer, is the most prevalent type of canine cancer. The other types of cancers common among dogs are as follows.

· Lymphoma

· Hemangiosarcoma

· Bladder cancer

· Mammary carcinoma

· Brain tumour

· Osteosarcoma

· Squamous cell carcinoma

· Melanoma

· Testicular cancer


Q: Why cancer is prevalent in so many dogs?

We can blame the factors that increase the risk of canine cancer. World pollution is increasing day by day, and our reliance on chemical products (plastic) is imposing serious concerns on health. These factors increase the risk of cancers in humans as well as animals.


In addition, we have increased the life span of a dog by evolving our health industry. But these days, dogs are living their lives longer than before, and therefore more animals reach the age when they develop cancer. Also, there are some breeds prone to genetic mutations and the development of cancer.


Bernese mountain dogs are prone to cancer

Q: Why do some dog breeds get cancer frequently?

Germ cells in male and female dogs divide more often. Every time they reproduce, their genetic material gets changes. After every reproduction, each new cell contains a new genome sequence, which increases the chances of genetic abnormality. This genetic abnormality develops cancer, and like other traits, cancer also spreads to offspring. Certain breeds which are prone to cancer transmit cancer to their offspring through genes.


Q: Can crossing between different breeds decreases the chances to get cancer?

Yes! Crossing between different breeds decreases the chances of cancer. The reason lies behind the fact that specific genes express themselves in specific organisms. If a specific gene is abnormal, there are chances that it will not cause abnormality after crossing with a different breed.


Q: My dog is diagnosed with cancer. Is he going to die?

Absolutely not! You should not worry about your furry friend's death because cancers can be treated with surgical interventions. Cancers that consist of a mass of cells are easily removed, and they do not impose serious life threats even after the surgery.

However, if a cancer is not diagnosed early and it gets worse, there are chances that it will implement serious implications. A stage 3 or stage 4 cancer can result in your furry friend's death if it is too late to handle. Any type of cancer, if diagnosed at early stages, can be treated without health concern.

dog walking can help prevent cancer

Q: How can I prevent my dog from getting cancer?

As there are no significant causes of cancer, there are no definite options to prevent your dog from cancer. However, some procedures greatly reduce the risk of getting cancer. One of the procedures is the neutering or spaying of your dog.


If you spay your dog before the first heat, you can greatly decrease the chance of getting mammary cancer. By spaying, you control the influence of hormones which reduces the incidence of cellular abnormality.


Maintaining good care and hygiene reduces the incidence of cancer. Good oral care can decrease the chances of oral cancer. But significant prevention of cancer is not possible because we don’t know the real factor that triggers the cell to mutate.


Q: What’s the success rate in canine