Diagnosing Dog Breast Cancer

Dog breast cancer is one of the rarest forms of cancer occurring in dogs. Although spaying your female dog greatly reduces her risk of developing canine breast cancer, even spayed dogs have a slight risk of developing the condition. Like other cancers, breast cancer in dogs is a serious and sometimes fatal condition. Be prepared to recognize breast cancer symptoms in your pet as soon as possible, so you can identify and treat the disease in its early stages. Continue reading for advice of diagnosing dog breast cancer.

Symptoms of Canine Breast Cancer

Although your vet can make a proper diagnosis of canine breast cancer, it's up to you to recognize the symptoms. The more aware you are of your pet and her body, the quicker you will notice when something is wrong.

Canine breast cancer typically occurs in dogs that are not spayed and in the middle years of life, from about 3 to 10 years, depending upon the breed. Although canine breast cancer can be either benign or malignant, it's impossible to determine the situation without a proper diagnosis and biopsy. Either case poses some health risks for your pet, so it's best to have your dog examined by a vet at the first sign of breast cancer.

The most common symptoms of canine breast cancer include the following:

  • Small, hard lumps or growths on the abdomen, particularly around the mammary glands
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Bleeding or discharge from the mammary glands

If you recognize any of these symptoms in your pet, take her to a veterinarian for further examination and diagnosis.

Diagnosis of Canine Breast Cancer

If your vet suspects canine breast cancer, he will begin by recording your pet’s overall health by means of a physical examination. Next, he'll thoroughly examine you pet’s abdomen and mammary glands for signs of bleeding, discharge and abnormal growths.

A biopsy is the single most useful tool for diagnosing canine breast cancer. By removing a small piece of tissue from an identified tumor, your veterinarian can determine the source of the growth and whether it is benign or malignant.

Your vet might also order x-rays of your pet’s abdomen and chest. This is helpful in determining if cancerous material has spread throughout your dog’s body. Canine breast cancer spreads easily to the lymph nodes, and x-rays help to determine whether the cancer has metastasized yet or if it remains localized.

Having diagnosed your dog, you should discuss treatment options with your veterinarian. Canine breast cancer is typically treated by means of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The specific treatment plan that is best for your pet will depend upon her age, breed, condition and the cancer’s progress. With an early diagnosis, your pet stands the best chance of a full recovery and a return to normal health.