Could Your Senior Dog Have Cancer?

Lindsey ZimmermanDog Health

breastcancerNobody likes to hear the “c” word whether it applies to humans or dogs. Our mind takes us to a withering body and an endless round of treatments that can have detrimental side effects. The mere word is scary. Since October is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, we thought we’d talk about the signs and symptoms and potential courses of treatment.

The earlier you catch it, the greater the chances for remission!


What is dog cancer?
Just like with humans, there are different forms of dog cancer. They include:

  • Bone
  • Skin
  • Mouth and throat
  • Blood vessel cancer
  • Breast cancer

How common is dog cancer?
Unfortunately all too common. Approximately 50% of dogs over 10 succumb to cancer during their lifetime, with large-breed dogs being even more vulnerable.

What are the symptoms of dog cancer?
The warning signs for dogs are similar to humans. Unfortunately, your canine companion can suffer from cancer just like you can. You may notice a lump, a wound that won’t heal, a bone that swells or some abnormal bleeding.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Problems urinating
  • Bad breath
  • Lameness
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing

Sometimes there are no signs, especially early on. Additionally, certain breeds are more prone to cancer including boxers, Golden Retrievers and Bernese Mountain dogs.

How do vets treat cancer?
New breakthroughs in pet cancer are on the way! Right now your veterinarian may suggest a treatment plan depending on two things: 1) the type of cancer; and 2) when the cancer is detected. Your vet will explain all the treatment options which may include surgery, immunotherapy, chemotherapy and/or radiation.

For instance they now have tumor vaccines, a vaccine against oral melanoma, and radiation therapy that can remove tumors without surgery . Veterinary oncology has come a long way in the past two decades. Dogs are living longer now more than ever before due to better care and technology.

How can I protect my dog from cancer?
By far the best way to prevent dog cancer involves spaying/neutering. Good oral care helps to prevent mouth and throat cancers as well. However, many times there is nothing you can do in advance; instead, try and catch it as early as possible by going to the vet twice/year (if you have a senior pet)

Know that cancer is NOT a death sentence. Surgery can successfully remove many types of cancer

Many times dogs can be debilitated as they go through cancer treatments and recovery and that’s where Help’EmUp comes in. Our dog harnesses (in size xs to xl) have been known to help dogs with mobility issues and add a spring back in their step!

For more information about pet cancer, visit these websites: