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    Cancer in Dogs – Signs & Treatment

    We all know that our four-legged friends are not just pets, but that he or she are beloved, cherished family members.

    Given this mutual bond of love and loyalty it can make a diagnosis of any form of dog cancer very difficult for owners.

    Signs of Cancer in Dogs:

    The warning signs of cancer in dogs are very similar to that in humans, a lump or bump, a wound that is not healing, any kind of swelling or abnormal bleeding.

    Such symptoms of cancer in dogs are easy to spot while others are not. 

    However, the following outlines the most common physical and emotional signs of cancer in dogs:

    Physical Signs of Cancer in Dogs:

    • Large Growths: Unusual swellings, lumps, or bumps that persist or continue to get larger. These growths may appear anywhere on the body and your dog should be taken to the vet to be examined immediately.
    • Loss of Weight: Weight loss is one of the most common signs a dog has cancer. If you notice your dog shedding pounds, either rapidly or slowly, an appointment should be made immediately with your vet.
    • Odours: Bad odour is a common sign a dog has cancer. Tumours in the mouth, nose or anus can lead to offensive smells. 
    • Small Lumps Under the Skin: Any small bump under the skin should not cause immediate concern, but it should be monitored. If it gets larger in size your dog should be brought to the vet for a check-up.

    If you have dog insurance this covers all costs of visits.

    Emotional Signs of Cancer in Dogs:

    • Loss of Appetite: Loss of appetite can be a sure sign of illness. As dogs get older, they may not eat as much due to lack of activity, but it is unhealthy for a dog to lose interest in food. A sudden change in appetite may result from bouts of nausea, which is associated with many types of cancer.
    • Lethargy: A lack of energy, despondency and an inability to get excited about things in your dog’s behaviour may be a sign of illness and cancer.

    Common Types of Cancer in Dogs

    The 12 most common types of canine cancer are:

    • Hemangiosarcoma: Hemangiosarcoma is cancer of the vascular endothelium, or blood vessel walls. It most commonly affects the spleen and heart and certain breeds have a much higher incidence including Labradors and German Shepherds.

    • Mast Cell Tumours: MCT is the most common skin tumour in dogs; it can also affect other parts of the body, including the spleen and bone marrow. Certain dogs are predisposed to MCT including Pugs and Bulldogs. 

    • Lymphoma: This cancer affects all dogs of any breed at any age. Appearing as swollen glands(lymph nodes) which can be noticeable under the neck, in front of the shoulders or behind the knees. 

    • Osteosarcoma: By far the most common bone tumour Osteosarcoma generally strikes the bones of larger breeds. Usually occurring in middle aged and elderly dogs it accounts for 85% of tumours which originate in the skeletal system.

    • Brain Tumours: Brain tumours often present with acute seizures and as the tumour gets bigger, it can cause pressure changes within the brain. CAT and MRI scans are used to determine location, size and severity. 

    • Bladder Cancer: The most common type of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma, a tumour of the cells that line the inside of the urinary bladder. TCC occurs in breeds of sheepdogs and terriers and only accounts for less than 1% of all cancers in dogs. 

    • Mammary Carcinoma: Benign and malignant tumours of the mammary glands occur frequently in female dogs that aren’t spayed. Complete surgical removal is recommended through early detection.

    • Malignant Histiocytosis: MH is an extremely aggressive form of cancer which is a major cause of death for Bernese Mountain dogs and can affect Golden Retrievers also. The tumours caused by MH eventually infiltrate many of a dog’s organs including lungs and spleen and the disease is always fatal.

    • Squamous Cell Carcinomas: SCC is normally found in the mouth and the nail beds of the toes. The most common treatment is complete surgical removal through early detection.

    • Mouth and Nose Cancer: Both are very common forms of cancer in dogs. Symptoms of mouth cancer include a mass on the gums, bleeding, or difficulty eating, while nose cancer is indicated by facial swelling and breathing difficulties.

    • Melanoma: Melanoma is a common skin cancer in dogs which occurs in areas of haired skin forming small, dark lumps. It is an incurable disease, the tumours often spread throughout the body which makes complete surgical removal impossible. All dog skin problems should be referred to your vet.

    • Testicular: This form of dog cancer is largely preventable with neutering, and curable with surgery and early detection.

    Cancer Treatments for Dogs:

    There are several factors which influence the cancer treatment a dog receives:

    • Dogs age
    • Health of the dog
    • Type of tumour
    • Stage of the cancer

    A vet will evaluate the canine’s ability to tolerate dog cancer treatment and their life expectancy also.

    Dog treatment cancer is like human therapies and includes:

    • Chemotherapy
    • Surgery
    • Radiation Therapy
    • Herbal, Holistic Therapy

    If you suspect dog cancer, whether finding a lump or witnessing behavioural changes, contact your vet immediately.