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Canine cancer treatment and prognosis

Updated on April 21, 2013

Cancer occurs when the control of genes in the process of cell division go haywire. When the division process of cells is out of control, the normal cells turn into cancer cells.  Cancer is a much dreaded and loathed word. Canine cancer is pretty much the same as cancer in humans although treatments for canine cancer have just been made not so very long ago. Back in those days when canine cancer treatments were not yet administered, dogs were commonly put to sleep as it would be heartbreaking to watch the sufferings of a terminally ill dog. Thanks to modern medicine, our four legged loyal companions are given a chance to fight this most dreaded disease.

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Telltale signs of canine cancer

Every pet parent should be familiar with the early warning signs of cancer. Treatments administered during the early stages of cancer gives the dog positive prognosis. The American Veterinary Medical Association encourages pet owners to be aware of cancer telltale signs. Early detection is one very important factor that spells treatment success. One of the common signs of cancer is abnormal lumps and swelling that continue to grow and ulcers that do not heal. These symptoms will be noticed when the pet is groomed. A pet owner should be concerned if the dog is progressively losing weight, have pale gums and malodorous breath, and have a distended abdomen and unexplained bleeding in any body openings. Decreased appetite, reduced activity abnormal urination and defection are other signs of canine cancer. Of course these can be symptoms of other illnesses thus a vet’s expert diagnosis will be necessary.


There are three modes of fighting cancer. Surgery is the first option especially if the cancer is localized in a single area so that the vet can completely remove the cancerous cells. The malignant tumors have to be removed to prevent metastasis, a condition when the aggressive cancer cells spreads to other parts of the body. Surgery may not be the best treatment choice especially if the malignant cells have spread or when the cancer cells have developed in areas not amenable for surgery such as the lungs or the heart. Chemotherapy is the treatment choice in this case. Toxic chemicals will be administered to kill the cancer cells. However, this treatment is difficult as it would also kill healthy normal cells causing side effects. Radiation is the third method of treating canine cancer. With this treatment, the normal cells will be spared as the destructive radiation beam will be focused only to the cancer cells. However, this treatment will not be successful if the cancer has metastasized.

Cancer prognosis

The prognosis date a vet would tell you are based on the cancer stage, on the age and fitness of the dog and on how your dog has responded to treatment. The prognosis is usually short term for a dog with an advanced stage of cancer. The prognosis is the vet’s educated guess. Canine cancer is one disease that commonly recurs. The underlying health of the dog as well as the age has a significant bearing on whether complete recovery is possible.

Dog Cancer Information

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