1.) Cancer is the cause of nearly half the deaths of older dogs (10 years and up), according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
2.) Early detection is vital. You should routinely examine your dog for any physical or behavioral abnormalities and bring your dog in for regular veterinary exams. Things to look out for include: abnormal swellings, lumps under armpits and under the jaw, sores that won’t heal, foul breath, weight loss/poor appetite/difficulty eating, difficulty breathing, or bleeding/unusual discharge from any orifice on your dog’s body.
3.) Mast cell tumors are one of the most common cancers found on and under the skin of dogs. Any breed or mixed breed can get them, but Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Shar Peis have shown an increased propensity for them, according to the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). Between 10 and 15 percent of dogs with a mast cell tumor end up getting more of them throughout their lifetime, the ACVIM reveals.
4.) Not all skin growths and masses on your dog are cancerous. Just like with humans, some tumors are benign (harmless), while others are malignant (harmful). Veterinarians confirm tumors in dogs through x-rays, blood tests and ultrasounds, and diagnose benign or malignant tumors through a biopsy, where a tissue sample is taken from the dog and examined under a microscope.
5.) Spaying and neutering reduces your dog’s risk of certain cancers. This is particularly true of uterine and breast/mammary cancer in females, and testicular cancer in males (if neutered before six months). This is important because breast cancer in dogs is fatal in about 50 percent of cases, according to the ASPCA. And let’s not forget, spaying and neutering helps control the pet population, as well.
6.) Chemotherapy isn’t just for humans. That’s right—this treatment you’ve heard about for human cancer patients is also used to put canine cancer into remission. Chemotherapy can extend the life of a dog with cancer, even canine lymphoma, and in some cases, even pose a cure. Chemotherapy damages rapidly growing cancer cells in dogs, slowing or stopping their growth entirely. The bad news is chemo can produce some rough side effects in your dog, like vomiting and nausea; however, the good news is dogs rarely lose their hair from the treatment like humans do, the ACVIM says.
7.) Cancer treatment for dogs is expensive. This is especially true of advanced treatments. You may want to consider getting a pet insurance policy when you decide to own a dog, especially if you have a high-risk breed. A pet insurance policy can give you peace of mind that you won’t go broke when obtaining the best cancer care for your dog.