Introduction to Canine Cancer

Much like human cancer, canine cancers are dramatically varied in their seriousness, growth rate, symptoms and prognosis. Dog cancer is a common condition amongst older canines, although certain breeds are predisposed to particular types of growths and cancers at younger ages. Due to its prevalence among dogs of all types, as well as the relatively positive prognosis when detected early, familiarizing yourself with the various types of dog cancer and canine symptoms of cancers, as well as their treatments, can make a significant difference in your pet's longevity and livelihood.

An Overview of the Types of Canine Cancer

Canine cancers are pockets of cells in your dog's body that grow at uncontrolled and potentially harmful rates. Cancerous growths may begin in one part of the body and metastasize to other areas, including vital organs. Successful treatment of cancer depends upon early recognition and treatment, before the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Dog cancers can develop in virtually all areas of the body. Canine bone cancer is perhaps the most widespread, particularly among larger breeds. The other most frequently detected types of canine cancer are cancers of the skin, mouth and mammary glands.

Symptoms of Canine Cancer

Although each variety of canine cancer is associated with a somewhat different set of common symptoms, there are certain warning signs that are relevant to most types. Pay particular attention to your dog if he displays any of the following common cancer symptoms:

  • Unusual growths or swellings anywhere on the body
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Difficulty moving or eating
  • Lethargy and lameness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unusual sores, discharge or bleeding
  • Foul odor

These symptoms may be mild or quite severe. Your dog's chances of survival and full recovery depend upon early detection and treatment, so it's crucial that you have a veterinarian examine your pet if he exhibits any of these symptoms.

Diagnosing Dog Cancer

A full diagnosis of canine cancer will include a thorough physical examination and analysis of medical and family history. Many cancers are hereditary, and your pet's family cancer history may be useful in determining his condition. Blood and urine samples, x rays, ultrasounds and other tests may be necessary to determine your pet's condition with certainty.

Treating Canine Cancer

Depending on the type and development of your dog's cancer, treatment options range from minimal and inexpensive to very serious and costly. Changes in lifestyle and painkillers can help to ease your dog's symptoms, but in most cases a surgical procedure will be necessary to fully excise the cancerous growth from his body. For relatively early-stage cancers, this surgery may be quick and easy. Some types, such as bone cancer, may be difficult to treat with surgery or any other method.

Your pet's chances of recovery are dependent on the type and progression of his cancer. If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, consult with a vet for advice on how best to treat his underlying condition and address his symptoms, in order to preserve his mobility and way of life.