Unfortunately dogs aren’t immune to the many types of cancer that can attack their bodies. In purebred dogs reach first place on the top ten most fatal diseases. Half of the dogs over the age of 10 years die from cancer and sadly almost half the dogs that die of natural causes are killed by cancer. As dogs age they become more at risk for this disease. According to statistics 1 in 5 dogs will end up developing some type of cancer. Skin cancer is the most common culprit in dogs. Typically lighter skin dogs are more at risk but it’s been proven numerous times that isn’t always the case. Like in humans cancer can and does strike at any time and it isn’t particular on who becomes its victim.
There are some things you can do to help prevent cancer; provide a healthy life, balanced diet, essential vitamins and minerals, wholesome foods, spay or neuter, and plenty of exercise to name a few. However, this doesn’t mean your dog will be immune to the disease and won’t still get some form. Cancer is described as a genetic disease, so there is large chance your dog may be genetically predisposed.
As with anything early detection is important. Getting diagnosed and treatment may save your dog or at the very least extend its life. Be vigilant when grooming or petting your dog, be aware of any abnormal growths, bumps, lumps, or sores. Anything out of the normal with your dog’s behavior, mood, energy level, weight or habits should also be taken into consideration. Has the food or water intake increased or decreased? Does your dog seem lethargic or depressed? Have you seen any bleeding or discharge anywhere? Has breathing, swallowing, bad breath, lameness, stiffness or going to the bathroom become an issue?
It’s important to remember these problems can often be the same symptoms as other problems and doesn’t automatically mean they have cancer. Set up a vet appointment for a complete exam. Your vet should be able to answer any of your concerns and provide a diagnosis if there is an issue. This is a good example on why maintaining a close relationship with your dog’s vet and scheduling yearly physicals is a good idea.
Cancer treatments vary depending on the type, stage, and age of the dog. Some types of cancers require chemo, others may be better combatted with radiation, and some may need more aggressive treatments. This is another reason why early detection is so important when combating this potentially life threatening disease.