Dog Cancer

Cancer is one of the most common causes of death among older dogs. Many cancers are curable, or at least treatable, if caught early. Even though dog cancer is not a certain death sentence, the word itself has a psychological affect on owners. One thing people do not want to hear, at the vet or from a people doctor is the word cancer. Once a dog hits about 10 years old, their chance of getting certain dog diseases, such as cancer, increases. Old age and cancer seem to go hand-in-hand.

Early detection is paramount in surviving this disease. Dog owners should always be on the lookout for a lump, sores that do not seem to heal, swelling of the lymph nodes, painful or swollen bones and bleeding. That probably sums up most of the dog problems that one might encounter. The simple fact of dog ownership is anytime your dog seems “off” for whatever reason — he or she needs to go to the veterinarian. Some cancers, left undiagnosed, spread quickly to other parts of the body. Once this happens, the chance of survival reduces greatly.

Dogs with cancer have a range of treatment options. Most of the advanced treatments offered to people are available to dogs. Surgery, vaccines and radiation are all possible cancer treatments. The treatment is dependent upon the type of cancer that a dog has.
The cutting-edge treatments come with a hefty financial cost, and most people have no doggie health insurance. Many dogs may not need the fanciest treatment to get better. Owners of dogs with cancer need to be honest with their veterinarian about their financial situation. A treatment that costs thousands of dollars might simply not be an option for some families. A vet will do everything thing that they can to help you make the right decision for both the owner and the owner’s pocketbook.

Every part of the body is vulnerable to cancer. A tumor just beneath the skin is easily treated, but a tumor deep within the brain needs radiation. In general, about half of the cancers that dogs get respond well to treatment. If left untreated, even the easy to treat cancers cause death.

Although not all cancers can be prevented, there are ways to minimize the risk of some. Spaying and neutering lessen the risk of mammary or prostate cancer. Good oral hygiene helps to minimize the incidence of oral cancer. Knowing the genetic predisposition of certain breeds lets the owners know what to check for with their specific dog.

It may seem odd but a dog that is 10, 12 or even 15 years of age, that gets cancer, was probably well taken care of. 20 or 30 years ago these same dogs would have been hit by a car or would have died of preventable dog diseases. It is only now that dogs receive the kind of care that allows the degradation of old age to be the primary killer. This is no comfort to those experiencing the pain of a sick pet, but dogs simply do not live as long as people do.

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