Cancer in Dogs - The Plight of the Older Dog

Cancer in dogs is something close to my heart because sadly it was the cause of my first dogs Ben's death.

Cancer in dogs causes about 50% of canine deaths. There are some interesting statistics regarding dogs and cancer: Their likelihood of developing leukaemia is about twice a human’s. They are four times as likely to get breast cancer and eight times more likely to suffer from cancer of the bones. Most shocking is that dogs have thirty five times more of a chance of getting skin cancer than a human, something that I was certainly not aware of. There are a variety of reasons for these figures. They are effected by carcinogens in foods just the same as we are. Their constant sniffing may result in inhaling something carcinogenic. They are in the sun a lot without protection. Canine cancer, just as in humans, is defined as abnormal cell growth. Cancer cells do not follow the cycle of a normal, healthy cell. They grow continuously and bind together to form a malignant tumour. When bits of the tumour break away and take hold in other parts of the body, it is known as metastasis. This disease can be caused by environmental factors or anything that damages the DNA.

Although dog cancer can occur at any age, it is often a disease associated with older dogs. As dogs age, their bodies begin to deteriorate, just as ours do. Our canine friends are also living much longer now as a result of vaccinations and advanced technology in treatment. More dogs reaching their senior years mean a higher incidence of cancer and other diseases. Cancer in dogs is often suspected when certain symptoms and signs are present. These symptoms and signs will have some variation. Their presence and severity depend on the type of cancer, the location in the body and the individual animal. Owners should keep an eye out for these warnings, especially in an older dog, so that treatment can be begun at an early stage.

Some things to look for include any unusual lumps, particularly those that appear to be growing or that are hard. This is how I first noticed cancer in my other old dog Ben. One of his testicles ballooned in size. Other things to look include changes in eating or elimination, weight loss and offensive odours. It should be noted that observing these behaviours or changes does not necessarily mean that your pet has cancer. They do warrant a trip to the veterinarian however.

Dog cancer can be successfully treated. Some types are more treatable than others. The key is early detection. You know your dog. Prompt care can make all the difference if you notice something you believe to be out of the ordinary.

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