All those people with dogs, most likely, have wondered at some point if cancer exists in dogs. The answer unfortunately is yes. And that is why we must be aware and well-informed about its possible appearance.
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The five most typical cancers in dogs
- Mast cell tumors or mastocytomas. They are a form of skin cancer. Mast cells are cells that reside in connective tissues, especially the vessels and nerves that are close to your dog’s external surface (skin, lungs, nose, and mouth). Brachycephalic dogs are more prone to them.
- Melanoma. It is a common type of cancer in dogs in which melanocytes reproduce, it is normally malignant, but there are cases of benign tumors of this type. It usually appears in older animals and a very common area is in the mouth.
- lymphoma. Lymphoma is a cancer of a type of blood cells (lymphocytes) and lymphoid tissues. Lymphoid tissue is normally present in many places in the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and bone marrow.
- Bone cancer (osteosarcoma). Osteosarcoma is the most frequent bone tumor in canines. Bone cancer can affect any breed of dog, but it is more common in larger breeds.
- Hemangiosarcoma. Hemangiosarcoma is a malignant vascular cancer that can spread rapidly and cause tumors almost anywhere in the body. It usually resides in the heart and spleen of dogs. Many times it is in an advanced stage before being diagnosed because the symptoms take time to appear.
What are the symptoms of cancer in dogs?
Dog cancer is very similar to that of humans, and like this, early detection is essential to try to stop it in time.
The symptoms of cancer in dogs can vary, so family members should always be on the lookout for any signs that it may be cancer.
- The perception of a bulge or bump.
- Observe wounds that do not finish healing.
- Frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- Notice respiratory distress.
- Have difficulty swallowing.
- Possible swelling in your body.
- Animal apathy.
- Observe changes in the way you eat.
- Modifications in how much water you consume.
- Possible weight loss.
- Note pale mucous membranes.
- Fall and poor appearance of the coat.
A dog with terminal cancer shows accentuated symptoms and will need veterinary follow-up to assess the options. When veterinary professionals observe symptoms of metastasis in dogs and depending on their condition, they may recommend euthanasia if there is no chance of improvement and to avoid the suffering of your best friend. At Adiós Mascota we offer this service at home because we know that, at this difficult time, intimacy and closeness are essential.
Diagnosis of cancer in dogs
The diagnosis of cancer in dogs must be made by studying the cells of the tumor. Thus, it is common to perform cytology of the affected tissue to observe the sample taken under a microscope. Normally, cytology usually offers a first view of the type of tumor and whether it is malignant or benign.
If cytology is not sufficient to obtain a definitive diagnosis, it would be necessary to perform a biopsy with a larger sample to be studied in the laboratory with more complex techniques.
Types of cancer that can affect dogs
Unfortunately, there are numerous types of cancer in dogs.
Cancer in older dogs is more common, it usually appears after 10 years. Some breeds are more prone to certain types than others, for example, it has been shown that the golden retriever is more predisposed to lymphoma and the boxer mastocytoma.
These are some of the types of cancer in dogs:
- Cutaneous (skin) tumors: melanoma, mast cell tumor, carcinoma.
- breast cancer
- Osteosarcoma (bone cancer).
- Tumors in the testicles.
- Sarcomas in soft tissue.
- Tumors on apocrine glands in the anal sac.
- Transitional cell carcinoma (bladder).
Treatment and advice for cancer in dogs
Treatments and medications to treat and cure cancer in dogs have changed in recent years as, until recently, cancer in dogs could only be treated with medications already approved for humans. Today, more and more veterinary drugs offer specific treatments for cancer in dogs.
The choice between one or another treatment will depend on several factors such as the type of tumor, location, age of the dog, or general health. It should be the veterinarian who determines the possible procedures and medications to establish to achieve the animal’s recovery or, at least, the minimum suffering due to the disease.
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It is important to keep in mind that cancer in dogs, just like in humans, has no solution. In this situation, it is essential to guarantee the highest possible quality of life for the animal, minimizing pain and guaranteeing its maximum well-being.
A timely diagnosis can considerably increase the chances of recovery and success against the tumor. Therefore, knowing the symptoms and types of tumors that our dogs can face is essential to achieve a favorable prognosis and thus increasing their life expectancy. If no treatment or special care is applied, their life expectancy is usually considerably shortened.
Although cancer in dogs must be evaluated and diagnosed on an individual basis, the most common treatment options are:
- Surgery – Removal of the tumor is usually the first option to tackle cancer in dogs. Depending on the type and size of the tumor, the surgery can be more or less aggressive. Sometimes it will be necessary to remove not only the tumor but also some of the surrounding healthy tissue to prevent tumor cells from remaining in the area.
- Chemotherapy: chemotherapy treatment consists of administering drugs that act directly on cells to prevent or stop their proliferation. Chemotherapy is given orally or intravenously and is distributed throughout the body. It is important to keep in mind that chemotherapy can have side effects such as gastrointestinal pain or changes in blood cell synthesis.
- Radiotherapy: used to treat cancer locally. If you need radiotherapy, it may be necessary to move our furry to a specialized center.
Cancer in dogs is a disease that can become complicated and become a long battle for our dogs. Therefore, it is essential to go to the vet as soon as possible to get an early diagnosis and stop the spread of the disease as soon as possible.
The family makes the final decision after consulting with the veterinary oncologist, who must specify the type of treatment suggested, its length, any side effects, and the likelihood of survival over the medium or long term. Preventive veterinary checkups save lives since an early cancer diagnosis is crucial to survival.
We hope that by now you are more aware of how to respond to an animal with cancer and are aware that some of them can be cured and lead a completely normal life.