Bernese Mountain Dog Cancer

For a Bernese Mountain dog, cancer is more prevalent. In fact, almost 10 percent of Bernese Mountain dogs develop cancer by the time they are six years old.

Bernese Mountain dogs are friendly, family devoted dogs. They do require daily brushing and plenty of exercise. Good breeding stock, as well as exercise and diet, is especially important to reducing Bernese Mountain dog cancer risks. Before purchasing a Bernese Mountain dog, ask about the puppy's bloodlines to see if cancer has been a problem.

Histiocytosis Dog Cancer

Bernese Mountain dogs have a higher incidence for developing histiocytosis. More than two out of ten cases of cancer in Bernese Mountain dogs are histiocytosis. This dog cancer takes three forms.

  • Benign
  • Malignant
  • Systemic

Bone marrow produces platelets and red blood cells. Marrow also produces white blood cells that break down into three groups. Histiocytosis occurs when one of these groups fails to function properly.

Histiocytes are a branch of the white blood cells that attack and dispose of foreign matter in the bloodstream. When they fail to do their job, cancerous cells can grow. Benign histiocytosis looks like warts or growths on the surface of the skin. Corticosteroids can treat them, but they'll often disappear on their own.

Systemic histiocytosis is a series of growths on the skin. These growths are most commonly found near the eyes, muzzle and scrotum in dogs four years or older. The growths may disappear, but often return in increased numbers. Left untreated, they can spread to internal organs. The best treatment are immuno-suppressive prescription medications. Dogs with systemic histiocytosis usually live four or five years after the initial diagnosis.

Malignant histiocytosis dog cancer is aggressive from the start. It's more common in older dogs, usually those seven years or older. Symptoms include:

  • Appetite decreases
  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

In many cases, the tumors spread immediately to the spleen, leading to anemia. Survival from diagnosis of malignant histiocytosis is usually a matter of months.

Other Cancers in Bernese Mountain Dogs

Fibrosarcoma involves cancer that grows in the connective tissue at any bone. Pain or swelling, particularly in the leg joints, is the most common symptom. Others include foul breath, bleeding from the mouth and difficulty swallowing. It's most common in older male dogs.

Lymphosarcoma involves cancerous growths in the lymph system that slow or stop the immune system's function. The dog cancer is usually seen in older dogs. Symptoms are dependent on the form of lymphosarcoma, but may include increased thirst, lumps on the neck, lack of appetite and weight loss.

Mastocytoma or mast cell tumors are seen as round lumps on the surface of the skin. Dogs with mast cell tumors are usually older than eight years of age. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, appetite decrease and vomiting.

Osteosarcoma is a tumor in the bone, usually the leg bones. It's most common in large dog breeds, particularly fixed males, and usually appears late in life. Osteosarcoma is very aggressive and spreads quickly to other organs, especially the lungs. Symptoms include lameness, pain and swelling near the tumor site.