Archive for the ‘Cancer Research’ Category

National Canine Cancer Foundation to fund a new innovative Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) Research Project

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

I have some new exciting news. As you all know we are always trying to find an new edge in the battle against canine cancer. And Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is one of those cancers we would like to get a better handle on since it seems to end up being diagnosed too late to save the dog. In fact, we are so keen on finding out how to deal with HSA that we have actually initiated our own research project on HSA with G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. This is very exciting for the NCCF because this type of research on HSA has never been tried. Let me tell you how it all came about by first talking about a dog name Batman.

Batman was the first dog to undergo a breakthrough experimental treatment for brain cancer, led by doctors, G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. They developed a combination treatment plan for dogs with glioma, a very aggressive and relatively common form of brain cancer. First they removed the tumor surgically. Then, in some cases, they use local gene therapy to attract immune cells to destroy remaining tumor cells, and finally they created a personalized anti-cancer vaccine made from the dog’s own cancer cells to prevent tumor recurrence.

I personally love the thought of taking a cancer that was killing a dog and turning it into a personalized vaccine to kill the cancer!

Dr. Pluhar, a surgeon at the Veterinary Medical Center, and Dr. Ohlfest, head of the neurosurgery gene therapy program at the Masonic Cancer Center, gave Batman his initial treatment in August 2008. Batman led a normal life unaffected by his tumor until his death from cardiac failure in February 2010, there was no tumor recurrence. According to the Dean of the College, Trevor Ames, DVM, MS, “the far-reaching implications of this promising new treatment are almost difficult to fathom; not only could these treatments lead to a cure for brain and other systemic cancers in dogs, but because dogs and humans share many physiological traits, dogs could also be the missing link in the cure for brain cancer in humans.”

Then something interesting happened. Almost one year ago, Davis Hawn’s then 8-year-old yellow lab, Booster, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his nasal sinus. Booster was given three weeks to live. Hawn did not want to accept the death sentence and began searching the country for a cure. His search led him to doctors in Florida who removed Booster’s tumor and gave him chemo. An online search then led him to Dr. Elizabeth Pluhar from the University of Minnesota’s canine brain tumor clinical program. Davis asked her to help his dog, but Dr. Pluhar had never made a vaccine for this type of cancer before. But Davis was not going to take no for an answer so she did agree to try. She shipped the vaccine off and ten months later Booster is cancer free.

Then after Davis contacted the NCCF to tell us about how well the vaccine works, we contacted Dr. Pluhar to ask if she would be willing to try the same research that was successful with brain cancer and skin cancer, and use the same protocol to try dealing with splenic HSA. The NCCF’s thinking is that with all these other cancers, the similarities were that the cancer had to be removed and a vaccine needed to be created from the cancer cells. With splenic HSA, one of the more common forms of HSA, the spleen is typically removed so we felt that Dr. Pluhar’s research could possibly work. With that in mind, we asked her if she could try and apply her protocol on splenic HSA. After doing some initial research she agreed to do the study based on reaching certain goals before going on to the next level.

First, she needs to insure that we can culture the cancer cells in the lab,

Second, she needs to insure that the tumor vaccines stimulate immune cells to attack tumor cells. If she can achieve these two steps she can go on to treat the HSA cancer. We could not be happier and are guardedly optimistic over this research project.

The cost for this project will be $55,500. I hope you are all as excited as we are about this research and will help fund the project. If you want to help with funding this new innovative NCCF’s initiated project please CLICK HERE or got to this link

Thank you

Gary D. Nice
President and Founder
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Gullivers Run : Run Against Canine Cancer with the NCCF!

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

The National Canine Cancer Foundation is very proud to offer passionate owners the opportunity to remember and honor the dogs that have touched your heart. Through the Foundations work, in this case specifically, we are committed to providing dog lovers a voice in fighting back against canine cancer! 2013 was the Inaugural Gulliver’s Run, a tribute to John and Lisa’s beloved Vizsla running partner Gulliver.   Many are very dedicated and passionate following the death or diagnosis of their beloved dog, but it takes a team to put together and host a charitable event that gives others a voice to their story.  Because of these stories continually being told, awareness grows and research moves forward.  This is one story, of a dog that so touched a family that they have dedicated their efforts to his remembrance.  It was a pleasure to work with John and his team in 2013 and we are looking forward to an even bigger and better event in 2014 – Together, We Are The Cure.

- Chris Pike
VP of Marketing and Events National Canine Cancer Foundation

As many of you already know, Gulliver left us in November of 2012, after a 13-month race against canine lymphoma. He was a runner and a remarkable companion. Gulliver kept on running through all of the chemo and other treatments that were part of his battle. He stopped running only 2 days before he crossed the last finish line.

Gulliver’s loss devastated us, but he never gave up, so how could we? We founded “Gulliver’s Run” in January of 2013, went on to file for and receive status as a 501(c) 3, non-profit, public charity, became partnered with the National Canine Cancer Foundation, and held our first “Gulliver’s Run” 5k Trail Race in November , almost a year to the day that Gulliver left us. We were able to send a check for $5,000.00 to the NCCF as a result of our first year’s effort.

Gulliver’s legacy and his trail run continue. Our 2nd annual “Gulliver’s Run” will be held again this year on Sunday, November 2nd, at beautiful Pinchot State Park. It is held on the same trails that Gulliver ran on almost daily. It is comforting to think that his noble spirit still runs free there beside us!

Our work is far from over! Sadly, there are countless other dogs and their human families who are facing the same battles and challenges that my wife and I did when we helped Gulliver fight against canine lymphoma. Please join us in this battle against canine cancer by being a part of “Gulliver’s Run” in 2014. If you can’t be with us in person (and with your canine pal) on November 2nd then please consider a donation. All funds raised go directly to fighting canine cancer. All that any dog truly expects from us is our companionship. Such selfless friends deserve our help in finding a cure for this terrible disease.

Together—We are the cure!
John & Lisa Heycock, on behalf of “Gulliver’s Run”

Join online:

Download  printable registration form:

Photo courtesy: NaterPix

What You Need To Know About Cancer In Dogs

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Warning Signs And Natural Remedies

Who would have thought that cancer would become the leading cause of death in dogs over 10-years old. Cancer simply means that certain cells are reproducing faster than normal. Older cells in the cancerous area are not dying off like they should which is why they can grow so fast. The good news is if it is caught early enough, some can be cured. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help catch it early so a proper treatment can be administered, before it is too late.

Most Common Types Of Cancer In Dogs

The most common kind of cancer include:

  • Malignant lymphoma – tumor of the lymph nodes
  • Skin cancer – mast cell tumors
  • Mammary gland tumors – breast cancer
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Bone cancer

Learn The Warning Signs

The warning signs in dogs are quite similar to those in people. You might notice a bump on the skin or a lump. Perhaps a wound is not healing properly or there might be a swelling of some sort such as in the lymph nodes, under the arm or abnormal bleeding. Many times, there are no signs but there might be something about your dog that isn’t quite right. They might become lethargic or just don’t feel well. That is the best time to bring it to the attention of your veterinarian. Watch for any of the following warning signs:

  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • Change in your pet’s elimination habits
  • Difficulty defecating or urinating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargic
  • Any unexplained discharge or bleeding
  • Offensive odor
  • Persistent stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Persistent cough

Cancer rates in dogs and pets in general have increased simply because they are living longer with great care and attention by their owner(s). Years ago, dogs often died from a common illness or hit by a car but today the vaccines are quite effective plus more are living indoors. They are simply living longer. A cancer diagnosis is no longer an automatic death sentence.

Natural Remedies For Cancer In Dogs

If the cancer is found early, it can usually be treated with surgery to remove it and your pet can live a long, healthy life with a little extra attention. If you are an advocate of natural treatments, then most of you will want to avoid steroids, radiation and chemotherapy. These treatments rarely prolong survival, dish up plenty of side effects and can cost thousands of dollars. A calm state of mind and spending time with your pet in nature, can also greatly help the healing process.

If your dog is older and the tumor is growing slowly, it may not require immediate treatment, as long as it is not causing any pain or discomfort. Many times your dog might pass from other age-related issues before cancer becomes a problem for them. Regular exercise can be done on a daily basis that is good for both of you.

The folks at have developed a special diet that contains ingredients that have been proven to slow down the growth rate of cancerous tumors. They point out that it is not the cancer itself that hurts your pet; rather it is the fast rate of growth of the tumor or the side effects of cancer treatments that can kill your dog.

The Cancer-Prevention Diet

The cancer-prevention diet revolves around a high-protein, grain-free meal that is most similar to their wild counterparts. Companies such as Sojos offer grain-free based, dehydrated foods that are convenient and easy to serve up to your dog. For a 60-pound dog, mix together the following:

  • 2 cups of dry Sojos Grain-Free Complete (Beef or Turkey – or you can mix them)
  • 3 cups of water to soak the dry food
  • ¼ pound of ground turkey breast – raw
  • ¼ cup of plain, organic yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of Health From The Sun – Pure Fish Oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of organic green tea
  • 1 Brazil nut – finely chopped

Supplements For Your Dog

  • Yunnan Baiyao
  • Xiao Chai Hu Tang Wan
  • Enzymatic Therapy
  • Milk Thistle
  • Glucosamine/Chondroitin

Dog Breeds Prone To Cancer

Some breeds are more prone to cancer than others. Anytime there is an inbred population, you have no idea what traits have been passed along. For example, Bernese Mountain dogs, Boxers and Golden Retrievers are more prone to cancer. Thought genetics plays a role, we cannot ignore toxins, chemicals and pollutants in the environment.

Cancer Prevention Tactics

  • Like people, it is important to give them a line of defense with a good quality supplement that contains vital antioxidants that can help prevent free radicals (toxins, chemicals and pollutants) from attacking healthy cells in the body.
  • Your veterinarian should examine any lump, mass or tumor for a proper diagnosis and treatment, especially if you notice any changes in the growth or mass.
  • Breast cancer in dogs is highly preventable through spaying the animal. Spaying your animal before their first heat cycle can help prevent them from developing breast cancer later in life.

Article reposted from:
Written by: Dr. David L. Roberts, DVM

Brain Tumor in Dogs, Diagnosis, Symptoms and Treatment

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Overview of Dog Brain Cancer:

Brain tumor are common and often seen in middle age and older dogs however they can also affect the younger one too. If canine has a seizure then it could be the signs that a brain tumor is present.

The most common types that often found in dogs are astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas and meningiomas. Tumor tend to be wide spread on multiple sites on the brain rather than one spotted position.

Some of the tumor arise directly from the brain tissue while other types spread to the brain by bloodstream since the brain control extensive blood supply.

The severity depend mainly on the brain location where the tumor arise and how fast they grow. Canine seizures can also be caused by other problems such as low blood sugar level or heart problems.

Causes of Brain Tumor in Dogs:

As with other forms of cancer, the exact cause of brain tumors in dogs is not known. In humans, brain tumors are thought to be caused by such things as genetics, exposure to radiation, nitrosamines from processed meats, electromagnetic fields, immunological issues, traumatic head injuries, solvents, and pesticides. It is not known if these same factors can cause brain tumors in dogs or not.

Brain tumors do appear to be more common in dogs than in many other kinds of domestic animals. Dogs that are over five years of age seem to be most at risk. Some breeds of dogs are more susceptible to brain tumors than others, such as Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, and Boxers. These are short-nosed or brachycephalic breeds and they seem predisposed to having tumors affecting the pituitary gland. Golden Retrievers, Collies, and other dolichocephalic (long-nosed) breeds may also be predisposed to having brain tumors, particularly meningiomas. Most mengiomas occur in dogs that are over seven years of age.

Symptoms of Dog Brain Cancer:

The most common symptom of a brain tumor is the onset of seizures, especially if the seizures start after the dog is five years old or older. Other symptoms include the dog exhibiting abnormal behavior and forgetting things; extreme sensitivity to touch or pain around the neck; problems with the dog’s vision, especially if the dog begins walking in circles or showing uncoordinated movements. Some dogs have a staggering walk that is a tell-tale sign. Some dogs may develop aggression or behave like puppies. In some cases dogs may develop obsessions.

More Symptoms:

  • behavior change
  • lethargy
  • irritability
  • compulsive walking
  • walk in circle
  • loss of habits that have been trained before
  • facial paralysis often cause by tumor in the lower part of the brain (brainstem)
  • lower intelligence
  • partial or fully blindness indicated that there is a tumor in optic nerve or hypothalamus
  • low energy level
  • decreased activities
  • seizures often cause by tumor in the cerebral cortex
  • confusion
  • disorientation
  • wobbliness and tremors indicated that there is a tumor in the cerebellum region of the brain that play an important role in the integration of sensory perception
  • loss the sense of smell often cause by tumor in the sensory system used for olfaction (olfactory system)

Because of slow growing rate of tumor inside the brain dogs can carry brain tumors for a few years before they start to show signs and symptoms, so its wise that the owner gets his/her dog checked by a veterinarian if he/she noticed any kind of above symptoms.

Treatment of Dog Brain Cancer:

There are three primary care methods for dogs and cats that have been diagnosed with brain tumors: surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The major objectives with these therapies are to eradicate the tumor or reduce its size, and to control secondary effects, such as fluid build-up in the brain (known as cerebral edema) that may result from a brain tumor. Surgery may be used to completely or partially remove tumors, while radiation therapy and chemotherapy may help shrink tumors. Various medications can be prescribed to slow tumor growth and to cope with side-effects, such as seizures. A course of radiation therapy will usually cost from $3,000 to $4,000, according to the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine. Chemotherapy is not used very often to treat canine brain cancer, so the data on this treatment is limited.

Breeds that are prone to brain tumor:

  • boxers
  • boston terriers
  • golden retrievers
  • doberman pinschers
  • scottish terriers
  • old english sheepdogs

Living and Management:

It will be necessary for your veterinarian to monitor your dog regularly with different scans such as CT scans (computed tomography, CAT scans (computerized axial tomography, and MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging). This will help your vetexamine your dog’s nervous system and look for any complications from the treatments.

The prognosis for dogs with a brain tumor will depend on what kind of tumor the dog has, where it is located, the size of the tumor, and how early it was caught.

Article reposted from:

Researchers suggest vitamin D sufficiency range and its relation to risk of cancer in dogs

Friday, July 18th, 2014

A new study published in Veterinary and Comparative Oncology examined the vitamin D status of dogs to determine a range of sufficiency. The study also showed that low vitamin D levels were associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Since research has shown that the effects of vitamin D extend beyond bone health, vitamin D sufficiency has been extensively evaluated in humans. However, little research has been conducted in dogs.

Researchers recently created the first study to examine the range of vitamin D sufficiency in dogs. The researchers were also interested in how low vitamin D levels related to the risk of cancer.

In the study, the researchers defined sufficiency as the point at which vitamin D status was met by a near maximum suppression of the parathyroid hormone (PTH).

Normally, when vitamin D levels are low the body produces PTH to pull calcium from the bones to meet the body’s needs, since a lack of vitamin D reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium from the diet.

When vitamin D levels are sufficient for bone health, the production of the PTH is maximally suppressed indicating that vitamin D is effectively absorbing calcium from the diet to meet the body’s needs.

The researchers analyzed at what vitamin D range the PTH was maximally suppressed in 282 dogs and found it to be in the range of 100-120 ng/ml.

The researchers then analyzed the relationship between the dogs’ vitamin D levels and the prevalence of cancer and found that dogs with a vitamin D level below 40 ng/ml were 3.9 times more likely to have cancer.

This correlates with research in humans indicating an increased risk for many cancers in individuals with vitamin D levels below 40 ng/ml.

“Serum vitamin D measurement can identify dogs for which supplementation may improve health and response to cancer therapy,” the researchers concluded.

Article reposted from:

Selting K., et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitaminD concentrations in dogs – correlation with health and cancer risk. Veterinary and Comparative Oncology, 2014.

Dog Breast Cancer: Diagnosis And Prognosis For Breast Cancer In Dogs

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Dog breast cancer affects one in four unspayed female dogs, which makes it one of the most common canine cancers.

This disease is very much influenced by female reproductive hormones. If you have your female puppy spayed before she comes on heat for the first time, she has an almost zero risk of developing breast cancer later in life.


It’s usually fairly easy to notice the signs of dog breast cancer.

Dogs love a tummy rub and most will happily roll onto their backs for you to scratch them. This gives you the perfect chance to have a good look at those mammary glands. Dogs usually have two rows of glands, with four or five in each row. They are usually soft and pliable, with no lumps and bumps. Take every opportunity to feel your dog’s mammary glands so you become familiar with what’s normal for her. Most mammary tumors develop in the glands closest to the back legs, so pay particular attention to that area.

Dog breast cancer is usually first detected as a lump or swelling in one or more mammary glands. Half of all mammary lumps in dogs are benign, so there’s no need to panic, but make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. There’s no simple way of telling whether a lump is benign or malignant, so a biopsy will need to be taken and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Depending on the result of the biopsy, your dog may need to undergo further testing, including x-rays and ultrasounds. This is to check for any spread of the cancer to other parts of her body.


The outcome for dog breast cancer sufferers also varies. Larger tumors, or those that have grown very quickly, have a poorer outcome than smaller tumors. If a tumor has spread either deeper into nearby tissue, or elsewhere in the body, the prognosis is worse.

It’s difficult to give an exact survival time for dog breast cancer, because individual dogs can respond differently to treatment. It’s possible for dogs to live with breast cancer for up to three years after diagnosis. The one exception is inflammatory mammary carcinoma. This is an extremely aggressive type of cancer, and even with treatment, the average survival time is only a few months.

You can protect your canine companion from dog breast cancer by spaying her before her first season. Unless you are a breeder, book her in for this potentially life saving surgery when she reaches 6 months of age.

Article reposted from:

Study Reveals Negative Effects of Sterilization in Goldens and Labs

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Research reveals negative long-term consequences for Golden Retrievers.

Dog neutering is a very popular practice in the United States. In doing so, people hope to avoid overpopulation or various unwanted behaviors. But is it a good choice for dogs, health-wise?

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine conducted a study with hopes of determining whether or not neutering is detrimental to canine health, and chose Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers as their subjects. The two breeds, which have been accepted worldwide as exemplary family pets and service dogs, are very similar in behavioral disposition, body size, and conformation, and were labeled as conducive to a comparative study.

Upon finishing data collection, which spanned 13 years of veterinary records, researchers made some somber conclusions:

“…The incidence rates of both joint disorders and cancers at various neuter ages were much more pronounced in Golden Retrievers than in Labrador retrievers,” notes Benjamin Hart, DVM, Ph.D., a distinguished professor emeritus in the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The long-term effects mentioned included joint disorders like hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament tears, and cancers deemed “devastating”.

A connection was also found between early sterilization—before the animal is 6 months old—and the appearance of joint disorders. About 5 percent of intact Golden and Labrador retrievers of both genders suffer from a joint disorder, the researchers determined. The rate in dogs sterilized before 6 months old jumped to 10 percent of Labs and 20 to 25 percent of Goldens.

The removal of hormone-producing organs during the first year of a dog’s life leaves the animals vulnerable to the delayed closure of long-bone growth plates, explains lead investigator Dr. Hart.

“We found in both breeds that neutering before the age of 6 months, which is common practice in the United States, significantly increased the occurrence of joint disorders, especially in the golden retrievers,” says Dr. Hart.

While neutering doubled joint disorders in Labradors, neutered Golden Retrievers saw their rate of joint disorder jump to four or five times that of goldens that had not been neutered. Golden retrievers also saw a similar discrepancy in cancer rates, but with only female Goldens significantly affected. The study found that female goldens that had been neutered had their risk of cancer rise three to four times that of non-neutered females.

The researchers did not take a stand on spaying and neutering, which is done to an estimated 83 percent of all U.S. dogs to control the pet population and prevent unwanted behaviors. Instead, they stated that the study served to measure the long-term health effects of sterilization and to educate breeders and dog owners who are deciding when, and if, to spay or neuter their animals.

The findings were based on 13 years of health records accumulated by the UC Davis veterinary school. Some 1,015 golden retrievers and 1,500 Labrador retrievers—two popular breeds that share similar body size, conformation and behavioral characteristics—were included. The research in its entirety can be found at

Article reposted from:

Written by: Andrew Alemania

Reducing the Pain of Dog Cancer

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Unfortunately, just like humans, dogs are at risk for and can be diagnosed with cancer. Watching your dog suffer through this disease can be emotionally and physically straining. However, with the help of a professional veterinary oncologist, your dog can receive the best in cancer care and treatment. Today’s veterinarians have access to innovative treatments that will greatly reduce pain in your dog and treat the cancer that infects them.

Osteosarcoma in Dogs

An osteosarcoma is the most commonly found bone tumor in dogs. This cancer is very aggressive and typically spreads to other parts of the body in a short amount of time. The symptoms of bone cancer are not easy to spot. However, they can include:

  • Joint or bone pain, seen when a dog walks, sits, or stands up.
  • Swelling around a joint or bone.
  • Lameness.
  • A visible growth underneath the skin accompanied by painful inflammation.

The cause of cancer, especially osteosarcoma, in dogs is not very well known. It is most common in large dogs and several breeds are predisposed.

Treatment Options

Treating bone tumors in dogs can be a long process. Amputation followed by chemotherapy is the most common course of treatment for dogs with an osteosarcoma. By removing the infected bone and treating the whole body with chemotherapy, most dogs are able to recover and learn how to walk on three legs enjoying an excellent quality of life.

However, when an owner does not feel that amputation is the best option for their dog, they do have the option of treating the cancer with a family of drugs called bisphosphonates. These are typically used in humans to prevent osteoporosis and inhibit bone resorption, (the degrading of bone and release of minerals into the blood.) Bisphosphonates have also been shown to increase apoptis, which is programmed cell death. These drugs have also been shown to alleviate bone pain due to cancer.

If your dog has been diagnosed with bone cancer, your veterinary oncologist may be able to treat your dog with these bisphosphonates. These drugs have been shown reduce pain and increase the growth and stabilization of the bones. Pamidronate is the drug of choice for veterinary oncologists and is given as a 2 hour IV injection. Infusions are given on a three-week basis and because this is not a form of chemotherapy there is no concern for GI toxicity. This drug is best be used in conduction with radiation therapy to treat pain.

Dogs receiving Pamidronate as a treatment for bone pain do need to have their renal functions checked on a regular basis. This is important, as any malfunction will not allow the kidney’s to excrete the drug from the dog’s system.

Common Cancer Sites for Osteosarcoma

Common Cancer Sites for Osteosarcoma

A New Future of Treatment

While there are many successful cases of using Pamidronate and bisphosphonates to treat bone pain in dogs, more studies need to be conducted before this can become a normal treatment plan. High doses of radiation are still the most common treatment for bone pain, but changes in veterinary medicine will continue to bring more efficient treatments to canine patients.

Yellow Lab is Now Pain Free

This yellow lab had bone cancer, also known as osteosarcoma. After diagnosis, her family was presented with pain management and surgical options. The surgery for Timber was amputation of her left front leg, followed up with chemotherapy. Timber is now 19 months out from diagnosis and is doing great.

Timber Plays 19 months Post Cancer

Article reposted from:

Written by: Dr. Robert Orsher

New Evidence Shows Link Between Spaying, Neutering and Cancer

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

A recent study raises even more questions about traditional spay/neuter practices for U.S. dogs.

The study, titled “Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas,” was conducted by a team of researchers with support from the Vizsla Club of America Welfare Foundation. It was published in the February 1, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Like previous research on Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers, the results of the Vizsla study are a call to action to take a closer look at current neutering recommendations.

Vizsla Study Results

The Vizsla study involved 2,505 dogs, and reported these results:

  • Dogs neutered or spayed at any age were at significantly increased risk for developing mast cell cancer, lymphoma, all other cancers, all cancers combined, and fear of storms, compared with intact dogs.
  • Females spayed at 12 months or younger, and both genders neutered or spayed at over 12 months had significantly increased odds of developing hemangiosarcoma, compared with intact dogs.
  • Dogs of both genders neutered or spayed at 6 months or younger had significantly increased odds of developing a behavioral disorder, including separation anxiety, noise phobia, timidity, excitability, submissive urination, aggression, hyperactivity, and/or fear biting. When it came to thunderstorm phobia, all neutered or spayed Vizslas were at greater risk than intact Vizslas, regardless of age at neutering.
  • The younger the age at neutering, the earlier the age at diagnosis with mast cell cancer, cancers other than mast cell, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, all cancers combined, a behavioral disorder, or fear of storms.
  • Compared to intact dogs, neutered and spayed dogs had a 3.5 times higher risk of developing mast cell cancer, regardless of what age they were neutered.
  • Spayed females had nine times higher incidence of hemangiosarcoma compared to intact females, regardless of when spaying was performed, however, no difference in incidence of this type of cancer was found for neutered vs. intact males.
  • Neutered and spayed dogs had 4.3 times higher incidence of lymphoma (lymphosarcoma), regardless of age at time of neutering.
  • Neutered and spayed dogs had five times higher incidence of other types of cancer, regardless of age of neutering.
  • Spayed females had 6.5 times higher incidence of all cancers combined compared to intact females, and neutered males had 3.6 times higher incidence than intact males.

Vizsla Researchers Conclude More Studies Are Needed on the Biological Effects of Spaying and Neutering, and Also on Methods of Sterilization That Do Not Involve Removal of the Gonads.

The Vizsla researchers concluded that:

“Additional studies are needed on the biological effects of removing gonadal hormones and on methods to render dogs infertile that do not involve gonadectomy. Veterinarians should discuss the benefits and possible adverse effects of gonadectomy with clients, giving consideration to the breed of dog, the owner’s circumstances, and the anticipated use of the dog.”

(The full Vizsla study can be downloaded here.)

I absolutely agree with the researchers’ conclusion that studies are needed on alternative methods of sterilizing dogs that do not involve removing the gonads. As I explained in an earlier video, over the years I’ve changed my view on spaying and neutering dogs, based not just on research like Vizsla study, but also on the health challenges faced by so many of my canine patients after I spayed or neutered them. These were primarily irreversible metabolic diseases that appeared within a few years of a dog’s surgery.

My current approach is far removed from the view I held in my early days as a vet, when I felt it was my duty and obligation to spay and neuter every dog at a young age. Nowadays, I work with each individual pet owner to make decisions that will provide the most health benefits for the dog.

Whenever possible, I prefer to leave dogs intact. However, this approach requires a highly responsible pet guardian who is fully committed to and capable of preventing the dog from mating (unless the owner is a responsible breeder and that’s the goal).

My second choice is to sterilize without desexing. This means performing a procedure that will prevent pregnancy while sparing the testes or ovaries so that they continue to produce hormones essential for the dog’s health and well-being. This typically involves a vasectomy for male dogs, and either a tubal ligation or modified spay for females. The modified spay removes the uterus while preserving the hormone-producing ovaries.

The cases in which I opt for a full spay or neuter usually involve an older dog who has developed a condition that is best resolved by the surgery, for example, pyometra (a uterine disease in female dogs), or moderate to severe benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate in male dogs) that is impeding urination and/or causing the animal discomfort. Generally speaking, mature intact dogs have had the benefit of a lifetime of sex hormone production, so the endocrine imbalances we see with spayed or neutered puppies don’t occur when dogs are desexed in their later years.

A Word About the Problem of Homeless Pets and Spaying/Neutering

It’s important to understand that I’m not advocating the adoption of intact shelter animals to people who may or may not be responsible pet owners. Shelter veterinarians don’t have the time or resources available to build a relationship with every adoptive family, so all the animals in their care must be sterilized prior to adoption to prevent more litters of unwanted pets.

Would I prefer that shelter vets sterilize rather than desex homeless pets, so that those animals, too, retain their sex hormones? Absolutely I would. But for the time being, the U.S. shelter system isn’t up to that particular challenge, nor are DVMs in this country routinely trained in how to perform anything other than full spays and neuters.

So while I totally agree with the need to sterilize shelter pets, I don’t necessarily agree with the method of sterilization being used.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Dr. Becker

When to Avoid Chemo for Canine Mast Cell Tumors?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

There has been much online talk these days about dogs with mast cell tumors (read, Palladia) which are the most common canine cancer.

So I thought I’d just add some fuel to the fire and give my readers some overall guidelines about mast cell tumors and chemotherapy.

As many already know, these cancers come in different grades (1, 2 and 3).  Grade 1 are almost always benign, grade 2 are intermediate (some benign and some malignant) and grade 3 are universally malignant.

Your vet will give you the grade following receipt of the biopsy report, which is completed by a path lab after submission of tissue from the tumor.

Wide excision (removal of a large swath of normal-appearing tissue around the tumor) cures many mast cell tumors.  Pretty much all grade 1, and about 90% or so of grade 2 mast cell tumors are gone permanently after wide excision.  Grade 3 mast cell tumors are candidates for chemo and possibly radiation and more as they will often come back and spread even after surgery.

The tricky guys are those grade 2 mast cell tumors.  Since some behave like benign tumors and some like real cancers, what are we supposed to do?

Well, the key is in getting more information about your dog’s individual tumor. There are a couple of bits of information that are valuable that can help you predict the behavior of your dog’s grade 2 mast cell tumor.

The single most important one is called the mitotic index.  This is the number of cells that are actually dividing seen by the pathologist under the microscope.

The magical cut off is somewhere around 5.  This means that if the tumor has a mitotic index of less than 5, it usually will behave less aggressively and in my opinion do not require surgery, as long as you have clean margins on the removed tumor.

More than 5? We need to now consider hitting these guys with the full spectrum approach (diet, supplements, chemo, and other strategies discussed in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide).

You may read about other markers (kit, AgNORs, Ki67) but these are much less useful than mitotic index.  If the mitotic index is around 5 though, consider these other markers for more data.

By the way, not all vets may know about this stuff, so remember to be your dog’s primary health care advocate and speak up!  Your vet is the one who has to order this testing of the biopsy specimen from your dog.

The squeaky wheel gets the oil!

Article reposted from:

Written by: Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM