Cancer is a scary diagnosis that often catches dog owners off-guard. This type of reaction is completely normal. Many pet owners have a lot of questions about their dog’s cancer and pet cancer in general.
How Common is Canine Cancer?
It seems like cancer diagnoses are occurring more and more frequently. In fact, cancer is now one of the leading causes of death in older animals. The Animal Cancer Foundation (ACF) reports that one of every four dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime. Around six million dogs are diagnosed with cancer each year. Dogs are also much more likely to develop cancer than humans.
What Are Common Symptoms of Canine Cancer?
According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF), some of the early warning signs of cancer include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal swelling
- Loss of energy
- Sores that won’t heal
- Foul or unusual odor
- Lameness or stiffness
- Difficulty breathing, defecating or urinating
- Bleeding or discharge from a body opening
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
Different types of cancer may have different signs, so the best thing that you can do for your pet is watching out for anything unusual in their behavior or any changes in their appearance or habits.
What Are Some of the Most Common Canine Cancers?
There are a variety of different types of cancer that dogs can develop. It is hard to determine what the most common cancers in dogs are because some breeds are predisposed to specific types of cancer. However, some of the most commonly reported cancers in dogs according to the Veterinary Cancer Society are mammary tumors.
Other common cancers in dogs include lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumors, melanoma, and osteosarcoma.
How is Cancer Detected in Dogs?
Diagnosing cancer in dogs quickly can determine the prognosis for your pet. Since early cancer detection is so important, it is very clear that regular visits to the veterinarian are also important. Most veterinarians will want to see your dog at least once a year. In the case of senior dogs, it is likely that you will have appointments with your dog every six months.
During these vet visits, the doctor will look for skin growths, enlarged organs, masses, and abnormalities all over your dog’s body. Screening tests can also help your vet catch cancer early. For example, blood work and urinalysis can both be used to detect cancer. Additionally, x-rays are often used to determine if pets have tumors.
If your dog is high-risk for a certain type of cancer, your vet is more likely to request these diagnostic tests. This is a measure taken to try to detect cancer as early as possible.
Do Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatments Affect Dogs Like They Do Humans?
In humans, there are a lot of side effects for cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. However, when it comes to pets, vets weigh the possibility of remission against quality of life. For this reason, cancer treatments tend to be less aggressive in dogs than in humans. Therefore, the side effects usually don’t occur in pets.
While some pets may still experience side effects like vomiting, nausea, hair loss, and extreme fatigue, most will see no side effects at all. If your pet is dealing with side effects, you can talk to your vet about adjusting the treatment to make sure that your pet is comfortable during the treatment process.
There are also other treatment options that may be used to help treat cancer in pets. Another common treatment option is surgery, which is also used to remove cancer in humans.
Are Some Cancers More Treatable Than Others?
All cancers are different, which means that some types of cancer are going to be more treatable than others. The treatability of cancer depends on the type of cancer and its location, size, stage, and response to treatment. All of these things also affect the prognosis of the diagnosis. It is always important to remember that the earlier treatment begins, the better the prognosis for recovery.
Newly middle-aged wife of 1, Mom of 3, Grandma of 2. A professional blogger who has lived in 3 places since losing her home to a house fire in October 2018 with her husband. Becky appreciates being self-employed which has allowed her to work from 'anywhere'. Life is better when you can laugh. As you can tell by her Facebook page where she keeps the humor memes going daily. Becky looks forward to the upcoming new year. It will be fun to see what 2020 holds.