About one in four dogs will suffer from cancer in their lifetimes. Just like you and I, the sooner cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat. Dogs in their senior years are more susceptible to cancer than younger dogs and including a regular cancer check with your vet could help you catch it before it gets too bad.
10 Signs and symptoms
- Swollen lymph nodes behind the jaw or knees
- An enlarging or changing lump
- A distended stomach
- Chronic weight loss not due to diet
- Chronic vomiting or diarrhoea
- Unexplained bleeding
- A dry, non-productive cough
- Unexplained lameness
- Straining to urinate or blood in the urine
- Bad breath
If you are at all worried that your dog may be at risk of cancer, speak to your vet. He or she may recommend a biopsy, ultrasound or another test.
There is no definitive way to prevent cancer, but as a responsible pet owner you can ensure your dog is healthy and has a reduced risk.
- Spay your female dog before her first heat to dramatically reduce the chance of mammary cancer.
- Brush your dog’s teeth regularly to reduce the risk of oral cancer.
- If you have a purebred dog, check the line to see if he is prone to any specific type of genetic cancer.
- Keep your dog at a healthy weight. Obesity has a high correlation to cancer.
Just because your beloved dog has cancer, it doesn’t mean his life is at an end. There have been amazing breakthroughs in treating canine cancer and vets today use many of the same techniques on dogs as doctors do on people. Your vet may recommend surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment or an immunotherapy vaccine.
Finding a pet oncologist
Not all vets have the specialist training needed to treat a dog with cancer. To find a vet in your area, we recommend calling the South African Veterinary Council on +27 (0)12 345 6347 / 6360 or visiting their website here