Dogs live much longer these days than they used to. This gives tumours more time to develop, which is why cancer rates in dogs have increased significantly over the last decades. It is estimated that about 50% of all dogs will develop cancer at one point in their lives.
Furthermore, some breeds are more susceptible to certain types of cancer than others, find some examples here.
A cancer diagnosis is by no means a death sentence for your beloved friend. In fact, more than 50% of all cancers can be cured and many more can be treated to provide excellent quality of life for an extended period.
The key factors for a successful outcome are early diagnosis and intervention.
What are warning signs and when should I see my dog’s vet?
- Any lumps, swellings or non-healing wounds on your dog should raise suspicions and be checked by your vet. A simple test where a small sample is taken with a needle and looked at under the microscope is usually all it takes to diagnose a lump. In almost all cases your vet will be able to tell you what you are dealing with within minutes.
80-90% of all lumps turn out to be benign, the most common ones being lipomas, cysts, and other rather harmless growths.
10-20% of lumps are malignant. While they may look just the same as the others in the beginning, they are able to grow quickly, invade healthy tissue, and even metastasise into the rest of the body. Early diagnosis and treatment can be life saving. In over 50% of all malignant lumps, cutting out the tumour will cure the disease – if caught early enough.
Prime examples of nasty lumps – and very common – are mast cell tumours. Known as “the great pretender” in veterinary medicine, these lumps can look like any other harmless lesion. Early surgical removal results in a cure rate of over 90%.
Boxers have higher rates of mast cell tumours than most other breeds
- Lameness can be a symptom of bone cancer (osteosarcoma), which is common amongst the larger of our furry friends.
- Lethargy, reduced exercise tolerance, rapid breathing, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, pale gums or neurological symptoms like seizures can all be caused by tumours. Blood tests, X-rays and ultrasound exams help to identify the cause.
Your vet can pick up on very early signs of disease during regular physical examinations. We recommend once a year for young, healthy dogs. Older ones and dogs that are in less than perfect health or belong to a breed with increased risk, should see the vet more frequently. Contact us now to make an appointment.
Large and giant breeds like Great Danes are susceptible to bone cancer
Bernese Mountain Dogs are susceptible to histiocytic sarcoma, a very aggressive type of cancer