When your dog is diagnosed with cancer, it is understandable to feel helpless and devastated. You may wonder what to do next and how you can best support your pet. 

There are several types of cancers that affect dogs, and some of them are very similar to forms of human cancer. The team at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services is here to explain cancer in dogs and what you can do to see the signs.

The More Common Types of Cancer in Dogs

Cancer occurs in more than 6 million dogs annually and is the leading cause of death in dogs over 6 years of age. Some cancers cannot be prevented. But there are many ways to encourage a better prognosis and maintain a quality of life for dogs with cancer.

Among the various forms of canine cancers, these are the more frequently diagnosed.

  1. Lymphoma/Lymphosarcoma — These cancers affect the lymph nodes. The cancer can be localized to one site or spread throughout the body to other organs and tissues. If the site is localized and treated, up to 85% of patients can successfully recover.
  2. Osteosarcoma — This frequently diagnosed form of bone cancer is most often found in large and giant breeds, such as Great Danes and mastiffs. Usually, this cancer occurs in the long bones, but can spread to the lymph nodes and other bones. Unfortunately, osteosarcoma is very aggressive and spreads quickly. 
  3. Mast cell tumors — These tumors occur when healthy cells group together and become malignant. It most commonly occurs on the skin, but can also be found in the respiratory and digestive systems. This form of cancer is most often found in older dogs.
  4. Liver cancer — This form of cancer doesn’t show signs until it has progressed into its later stages. While liver cancer doesn’t generally spread, in most cases it develops into a large tumor called a hepatocellular carcinoma.
  5. Bladder cancer — Bladder cancer is formed by a few types of malignant cells, with transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) being the most common. 
  6. Hemangiosarcoma — This cancer starts in the blood vessels and spreads to other important organs like the spleen and heart. This cancer is diagnosed most often in middle-aged dogs, and the majority of these are in male dogs.
  7. Breast cancer — This malignancy begins in the mammary glands and affects both males and females. Senior female dogs who were not spayed or were spayed after 2 years of age are more at risk.
  8. Melanoma — Melanoma is one of the more common skin cancers found in dogs. Melanoma begins with melanocytes, which are the skin cells that produce pigment. These tumors spread rapidly and have a tendency to bleed.
  9. Soft tissue sarcoma — This is another common cancer in dogs and occurs when malignant cells form together to create tumors in the connective tissues of the body. Many pet owners first discover this form of cancer when they feel a lump or raised area under the skin. 

Recognize the Signs of Cancer in Dogs

Early diagnosis is crucial in gaining a better prognosis for dogs with cancer. This is why it is important to take note of the following signs and have your pet examined.

  • Abnormal swelling
  • Lumps or bumps
  • Bleeding or wounds that won’t heal
  • Foul smell
  • Weight loss
  • Inappetance
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Lameness
  • Straining to urinate/defecate

There are many forms of cancer in dogs, and each one has its own set of symptoms and treatment needs. Alert your veterinarian to any changes in your pet’s overall health.

Veterinary oncology has come a long way and there are several new ways we can deliver successful treatment to a dog facing the C word. Know that you are not alone. OVRS Oncology offers a unique experience in that we have oncology experts that use conventional methods of treatment as well as holistic treatment and Traditional Chinese medicine. 

The team at OVRS is here to answer any additional questions you have about canine cancer. Please contact us and schedule an appointment.