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Coping with the terminal effects of Canine Cancer - Rosco's experience

Updated on February 12, 2013

Dog with cancer


Canine cancer strikes a deep chord within. I owe this to losing my beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Rosco, to lymphoma at the beginning of this year. It did not cross my mind then that dogs would experience the same problems we do. I thought of cancer as being something only humans need to fret over and neglected that canines are just as susceptible. I knew better when Rosco was diagnosed with cancer, but it was a tad too late.

As with the human body, cancer in dogs can take various forms. One of the most common, lymphoma, is what hit Rosco. The battle with the disease began when we noticed a lump on his paw that refused to subside no matter what foot cream we applied. The gargantuan lump was such a concern that we took Rosco to the vet many times, with test results returning positive for cancer. We were informed, in no uncertain terms, to be mentally prepared for the worst.



Common types of cancer in canines

1. Mast Cell Tumors

A common type of tumor found in about 20% of canines is the Mast Cell Tumor. Mast cells are responsible for allergies. They are found in all cells of the body, but typically form tumors in the skin. particular breeds of dogs are prone tomoats cell tumors. They include:

  • Beagles
  • Boxers
  • Golden and Labrador retrievers
  • Pugs
  • Basset hounds
  • Dachshunds
  • Wiemaraners
  • Bulldogs
  • Bull mastiffs
  • English setters
  • Fox and Scottish terriers
  • German short haired pointers

2. Brain Tumors

Dogs which have brain tumors often exhibit extreme changes in behavior. Epileptic seizures areclinical signs. CAT scanning and surgical removal of the tumor is the recommended form of treatment of this lesion.

3. Squmous Cell Carcinomas

An aggressive tumor that develops in the nailbeds or as mouth ulcers, this cancer is curable iVia complete surgical removal If detected early. Less than 20% of dogskino experience thistype of tumor experiencemetastatic disease.

4. Tumors in the head area

The mouth is where the most canine cancers form. Many are aggressive and require early treatment. Cancers may also develop in the nose area. Difficulty eating, bleeding from the nose, breathing difficulty and facial swelling are symptoms that should be checked by your veterinarian.

A vet's advice on dog cancer

5. Hemangiosarcoma

An incurable tumor of the blood cells, this tumorAmaya occur in dogspod any age, with middle aged dogs being the most susceptible.

Essentially painless, this cancer develops slowly, so clinical signs are not discoverable until iwhen tumors arresists taint to most cures.

6. Melanoma

A type of cancer that occurs in dogs with dark skin,melanin,a occurs when melanocytes mestacize. Pinschers, Schnauzers And Scottish Terriers, all dark skinned dogs, areprone to melanoma.They occur in areas of haired skin as brown or black lumps. They can also appear as wrinkled masses.

7. Osteosarcoma

Though osteosarcoma can affect any dog, this bone cancer is common in larger breeds. It affects bones bordering the shoulder,erist and knee. It usually begins with the lameness of the leg. It is an aggressive tumor and many are diagnosed after they spread fron the primary site

8. Testicular

These Tumors are usually prevenatble with castration and curable if diagnosed early.

9. Lymphoma

This cancer occurs 2 to 5 times more in dogs than in humans. Lymphoma can affect any dog at any age. Most of the time, it appears as swollwn glands in front of he shoulder,behind the knee or around the neck.If they appear in lymph nodes on the chest, they might cause difficulty breathing. Lymphoma is consider treatable! If discovered early.

Symptoms of cancer in dogs

Cancer surfaces in canines in the same way it does in humans. Some of the warning signs are all too familiar to many.

1. Lumps make their appearance

Cancer in canines usually begins with lumps in parts of their bodies. Malignant tumors grow and spread In the same way they do in humans.

Rosco had Lymphoma, which began in his lymph nodes and eventually spread to all parts of his body? They made their way to his head towards the end of his life. The most gruesome lump was the one that appeared on his leg. Inflated and malignant, It impeded his walking and grew to a gargantuan size.

2. The onset of diarrhea and other little warning signs

Little signs that cancer may have wormed its way into a dog's life may also manifest themselves. If a dog's wound does not heal or if he experiences abnormal bleeding, he needs a veterinarian immediately The same action should be taken when he suffers bouts of diarrhea.

The lump on Rosco's leg suffered a deep cut after he sustained an injury walking about the house. No matter how we tried to stop the bleeding, it would not heal. I learned how to bandage a dog's paw with the help of a veterinary technician. The lump had to be bandaged every morning before I went to work because the bleeding would not stop.Rosco also suffered daily bouts of diarrhea to add to his discomfort.

3. Changes in behavior

A dog suffering from cancer will reflect the changes in his body through his behavior. He may become depressed, want to be alone, and reject food altogether, very different from his normal, cheerful self.

Rosco's behavior took on a drastic change as the cancer hit. Though an older dog, he was a typical Jack Russell, active and usually filled with good cheer. He was jumping about and always asking for a belly rub. Things took a drastic change in the final months of his life and we din not understand why. He began to hide in corners, hermit-like and refused to come out of them no matter how I tried to coax him.

4. Changes in weight

Victims of cancer, whether canine or human, experience major changes in weight because they simply cannot digest food.

Rosco’s weight began plummeting drastically. Originally about 9 kg, he looked as though he had visited a professional slimming centre on been hooked on diet pills. It was agonizing watching his weight drop to a measly 5kg. Eventually he was so skinny that the word “rake” would sound fat.


Treatment of cancer in dogs

The suggested treatment for the removal of the tumor would of course depend on the type of tumor the dog has.Here are some suggested treatments.

Early Detection

The best type of treatment would be early diagnosis and removing the tumor before it spreads. A cancer confined to the lymph nodes is still treatable and can be removed with the primary tumor.


This refers to using electricity to "burn off" tumors before they spread. Suitable for benign tumors and tumors on the surface of the body, this method is used on early cancers and slow growing tumors


ThIs involves freezing the tumor to remove it. like electrocautery, it is an alternative to surgical treatment.


This is a form of treatment that is used often on tumors that have not mestacized. most Tumors give in to radiation therapy. The disadvantage is that the treatment requires special equipment and must be done at a medical centre.


Canine cancer does not have to claim victims like Rosco, whose clinical signs I wish I had discovered much earlier. Cancer can be beaten, with constant checks and early detection.

Copyright (C) by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

No part of this work is to be reproduced without the prior consent of the author.


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    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Awareness that cancer in both pets and humans can be eradicated if detected early is important. Thanks for sharing, Nat, and I feel your loss too. I hope this helps those who wish to give their pets a chance!

    • Nat Amaral profile image

      Nat Amaral 

      6 years ago from BC Canada

      I'm so sorry you went through all this with Rosco. It's always sad when we lose a pet since they're a part of our family. I had lost a pet one Christmas night, so I feel your pain. Thank you so much for writing this article. You may have helped many of those who still have a chance of saving their dogs.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mary. Yes, it is heartbreaking, especially if the dog has been with you for ten years of your life. misty, my other dog, has seizures too, which we control with medication. I guess we always have to cherish the moments they spend with us, no matter how short! Thanks for coming by!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you, Rema. I hope that this will help pet owners out there who may be struggling with a pet who has symptoms of cancer. Thanks for coming by!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      First, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. We are grieving right now because we lost a beloved pet after giving birth to 5 puppies. I adopted a Maltese who was a senior dog when I got him. He later had siezures and died. The Vet said he had a brain tumor (probably cancer).

      It is a heartbreaker when we lose a pet, I know.

      I voted this Hub UP, etc. shared, Pinned and Tweeted. Ooops, you have no buttons here to share...will try later.

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 

      6 years ago from Chennai, India


      Very sad indeed to hear about Rosco's suffering due to the terrible cancer. Humans or animals, it is a tragedy to watch them suffer.

      As I don't own pets and don't have friends who do too, I have no knowledge of canine cancer. Thanks for the information. This hub will be very useful who have pets. Well written. Cheers, Rema.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janine. It's terrible for pet lovers to see their dogsgo through cancer. Glad you've found it useful! Thanks for coming by!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      I am so sorry for your loss Michelle and have to tell you my husband's family lost their Golden Retriever PJ to cancer. I have heard everything that poor dog went through (it was a few months before we met) and it is just a tragedy. Thank you for sharing the symptoms and treatments too. I also agree that early treatment is most likely essential. Have of course voted, shared and tweeted too.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm sure he did. As long as our pets know we love them, they're happy. It's all they ask for!

    • Dragonrain profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm sorry you lost Rosco. I had a pet rabbit who died from lymphoma in 2008. It's such a sad experience to watch our pets dealing with sickness. I'm sure Rosco knew he was loved.


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