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Do dogs get cancer?

Updated on February 18, 2012

Cancer is a dreaded disease as even during this time of ultramodern medical technologies, treatment that would spell complete recovery is yet to be discovered. Cancer patients that were pronounced to be cured would again be troubled by the recurrence of the disease. Dogs can get cancer too. Dogs are considered to be members of the family thus the knowledge that the well loved pet can be lost because of this disease would distress the family. Not many years ago, pet owner would take the option of putting the dog to sleep rather than see the pet suffer. Although there is no 100% cure for cancer, early diagnosis would give the dog a good chance at recovery.

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Canine cancer

Similar to the different types of cancer in humans, canine cancer results from the abnormal division of cells. The excessive growth of cells that is not in coordination with the normal growth of the tissues around it will result to the development of lumps that can either be benign or malignant. The cancer can develop at the site of the abnormal cell growth or can spread through the blood or the lymph system and develop in other parts of the body.

Canine cancer symptoms

Malignant cancer is a fast spreading disease but because of the non-specific symptoms, the cancer may already be in its advance stage before treatment can be administered. A dog with any type of cancer would be less energetic, would have no appetite and would gradually lose weight.  These symptoms would not give a definitive diagnosis as these can also be the symptoms of other diseases. However, abnormal lumps and swellings, sores or wounds that would not heal, an offensive breath as well as discharge or bleeding from body opening are specific cancer symptoms that would should entice the owner to take the dog to a vet.

Dog cancer diagnosis

Thorough physical examination, x-rays and blood tests would be done on a dog suspected to have cancer but biopsy or tissue sample test would confirm the dog’s condition. Radiography and biochemical profiling will confirm the type and the stage of the cancer.

Dog cancer treatment

Once cancer is confirmed, the vet would decide the prognosis. The type of treatment for the dog’s condition will depend on the prognosis. Surgery is the viable option for cancer that is localized in a specific area as the complete removal of the cancerous cells will still be possible. Chemotherapy would be the treatment for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or if the malignant cells have developed in major organs not amenable for surgery. Chemotherapy uses chemicals that will kill the cancer cells. Unfortunately, this type of treatment will kill good cells as well. Radiation or the use of destructive beam on the cancer cells will spare normal cells from being destroyed.

About Bone Cancer in Dogs

Canine Maligant Melanoma

Dog Cancer Information: National Medical Report


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    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 5 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Almost all my dogs have ultimately died of cancer unfortunately. It's horrid how so many animals get it.