What Is the Best Cancer Treatment for Dogs?

Cancer treatment for dogs is similar to treatments used for humans. The best treatment, however, depends on the type of cancer the dog has.

Cancer Symptoms in Dogs

About ¼ of dogs diagnosed with cancer will lose their battle to the disease. Therefore, it is important that dog owners known the signs of cancer so early treatment can begin. In many cases, the earlier the battle begins the better the prognosis.

These are the main symptoms associated with canine cancer: noticeable lumps that continue to grow, loss of appetite, trouble eating, trouble swallowing food, wounds that do not heal (that may have a discharge), weight loss, the dog smells bad, trouble breathing, lack of energy, trouble walking, difficulties urinating and unusual bowel movements.

Dog Cancer Types and Treatments

Dog owners may be surprised to find that cancer is not an unusual condition for dogs. There are many different types of cancer, but some are more common than others.

Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs, which can affect any breed in any stage of life. 20% of all canine tumors are a result of canine lymphoma. This type of cancer is typically treated with special prescription drugs.

Mast cell tumors are also commonly seen in dogs. Mast cell tumors can appear in any tissue of a dog's body, but are usually found on the skin. Surgery is usually the first treatment performed, followed by chemotherapy or radiation

Female dogs can present with breast cancer-mammary carcinoma. This is most often seen in dogs that have not been spayed. A dog with this type of cancer will usually have more than one mammary gland affected with a tumor. Surgical removal of the whole mammary gland(s) is the treatment suggested for this type of canine carcinoma.

Dogs with dark skin can be affected with melanoma (skin cancer) and it is thought that this type of cancer may be inherited. Melanomas can appear as a dark lump or masses that look wrinkled. Melanoma is often treated with surgical removal, cryosurgery, hyperthermia, and/or radiation therapy on dogs whose tumors appear on the parts of the skin that have hair. Melanoma that affects a dog's mouth or paws has usually metastasized (spread) to other parts of the dog's body, making removal of the cancer almost impossible. However, a dog with metastasized melanoma may undergo radiation treatment to extend his life.

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in dogs. It can affect a dog's limbs, skull, ribs, or spinal cord. This type of cancer can cause secondary tumors to form in a dog's body. For this reason, a dog with osteosarcoma will usually have the primary tumor removed surgically, followed by chemotherapy to attack the remaining cancer cells.

Dogs can have many of the same types of cancers that affect humans. Many state of the art treatment options are available today and a veterinary oncologist can help an owner decide the best course of action for a dog and his quality of life.