Catch canine cancer early. Cancer not only affects man, it also affects his best friend.
More and more dogs are living longer lives. It used to be that dogs were not vaccinated and died of illness. Or they were run over by cars because they predominantly lived outside. However, with vaccinations and more dogs living indoors, the lifespan of the typical American dog has greatly increased over time—by a couple of years on average, and much more for some breeds. With this increase in life, however, comes a different issue: cancer. According to PetMD.com, over fifty percent of dogs over the age of 10 develop cancer.
Cancer in dogs is similar in many ways to cancer in humans. Dogs can develop tumors such as lymphomas (malignant tumors that can occur anywhere on a dog’s body), mast cell tumors (tumors commonly found in skin cancer) or mammary gland tumors, which are the tumors found in breast cancer. Bone cancer is also common in dogs.
If you suspect cancer in your dog, how do you know when to take him to the vet? Swollen lymph nodes are usually the first sign of illness. You can find lymph nodes on your dog underneath the jaw or around the shoulder. Another once of cancer symptoms in dogs, and probably the most obvious, will be tumors, or lumps, on their skin. Other signs include wounds that won’t heal, abnormal bleeding and any kind of swelling. Some cancers can be tricky to detect and may not have trademark symptoms. So any time your pet seems to be feeling unwell, it is time to see the vet.
Cancer treatment in dogs is also very similar to that of humans. The removal of tumors with surgery is a popular option. Chemotherapy with anti-cancer medicines is becoming a more popular treatment plan, and radiation therapy (using X-rays, for example) is available in about 40 locations across America. The specialty of veterinary oncology, or animal cancer care, has progressed so much that there are special facilities and veterinarians who devote their full attention to diagnosis and treatment of animals with cancer.
For cancer and many other health concerns with your pet, an important question to always keep in mind is what genetic disorders your pet’s breed carries. Some cancers can affect almost any breed, but some breeds are more likely than others to develop cancer. For example, Golden Retrievers, Boxers and Bernese Mountain dogs all have a strong history of cancer within their breeds.
Ask your vet if your pet’s breed is prone to a specific type of cancer and any other illnesses. With that information, you can be on the lookout for symptoms—to catch cancer as early as possible, when treatment can be most effective.
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