Canine Cancer Facts

In recent years, canine cancer has become the leading cause of death in 47% of dogs. The Veterinary Cancer Society estimates that 1 in 4 dogs will develop cancer at some point, and almost 50% of dogs over age 10 will develop cancer.

 

Fur The Brand is dedicated to changing the narrative on the canine cancer crisis and saving lives through awareness, prevention, and empowering pet owners to take control of their dog's health.

COMMON CANINE CANCERS

Mast Cell Tumors: Mast cell tumors are a form of canine skin cancer and can vary from benign to extremely aggressive. Mast cells are immune cells associated with allergies, residing in the connective tissues in your dog’s skin, lungs, nose, and mouth. Mast cell tumors are easily identified with a fine-needle aspirate and dogs often display signs or symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. The standard of care is typically surgery to excise the entire mast cell tumor but often a combination of chemotherapy and radiation may be required for high-grade tumors.

Lymphoma: Lymphoma is a cancer of a type of blood cell (lymphocytes) and lymphoid tissues present in canine lymph nodes, the spleen, liver, gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow. Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers seen in dogs, making up over 20% of all canine cancer cases (and many of the dogs that Fur The Brand helps). Lymphoma can affect any breed at any age and often appears as swollen lymph nodes around the jaw, in front of the shoulders, or behind the knees of canines. Lymphoma is generally considered treatable, depending on the type, and multidrug chemotherapy gives favorable results. 

Melanoma: Melanomas are tumors of pigment cells in dogs that can be malignant and may be found anywhere on the body but are most commonly found in the oral cavity.  Melanomas in dogs often appear as pigmented masses that may start to bleed or ulcerate as they get larger but may also present symptoms such as halitosis or swelling. Many are diagnosed during dental/oral examinations. Treatment for canine melanoma is focused on both controlling the local tumor, as well as addressing the concern for metastasis. Melanoma appears to respond to immune-based therapies and several treatments are under development.

Source:  American Animal Hospital Association

KEY WARNING SIGNS

  • Lumps and bumps, especially those that fluctuate in size

  • Unusual growths or sores that don’t heal

  • Weight loss or weight gain

  • Lethargy or reluctance to play or exercise

  • Coughing, difficulty swallowing, or breathing

  • Persistent change in appetite/water intake

  • Discharge or strong odors

  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea

PREVENTION

As owners, of course we want to do everything possible to prevent injury or illness in our pets which is why taking preventative measures such as checking for lumps and bumps at home and regular veterinarian screenings are key in early detection. 

Diet- As with humans, there is a huge link between a dog’s diet and the risk of canine cancer. Our dogs need appropriate nutrition in order to maintain a strong immune system and prevent disease. 

  • Your dog's food should be as natural and minimally processed as possible to avoid harmful additives. 

  • Keeping your dog's diet as natural as possible by switching from generic kibble to brands with minimally processed ingredients can help to ensure your dog is getting a nutrient-dense diet.

  • In addition, adding in foods with high antioxidants, such as blueberries, can play a major role in improving your dog’s health. 

  • When cancer strikes, good nutrition is even more important so that their immune system is best suited to fight the disease. If your dog is battling cancer, be sure to speak with your vet about changes that you can make to strengthen their immune system!​

Limit exposure to toxic chemicals- Make sure that your cleaning, lawn, and personal care/pet care products are non-toxic and pet-friendly! 

  • Toxins linked to canine cancer may be absorbed through your dog's paws, snout, or skin so it's best to avoid harsh chemicals at all costs. (AVOID: Chlorine, Bleach, Ammonia, Glycol Ethers, Formaldehyde, Phthalates or artificial fragrances)

  • Anything you use in your home with artificial fragrances is probably unsafe, not only for your dogs but humans as well. Replace products that have artificial fragrances with those that contain only 100% natural scent and are non-toxic and pet friendly.

Exercise- Keeping your dog fit is one of the best ways to boost immune health and promote overall well-being.

 

  • For both pets and humans, exercise has been linked to a reduced cancer rate! As Dr. Ken Tudor, a holistic veterinarian, explains: storing excess fat weakens the immune system. Fat is the body’s largest endocrine gland, responsible for secreting more than 40 different inflammation-promoting hormones. Even the smallest amount of excess fat can increase the amount of these hormones in the body. Exercise burns fat, which can help counter inflammation, and thus the occurrence of disease.” Source: PetMD

Minimizing stress in your dog’s daily life and environment also plays a huge role in the prevention of diseases such as cancer. 

  • As with humans, stress inhibits the immune system and reduces your dog’s ability to fight off disease. An active lifestyle (walking or playing with your dog, canine enrichment, play dates) can go a long way in keeping your dog happy and stress-free.

TREATMENT

Because every cancer and patient displays a broad range of symptoms, treatment is often individualized based on each dog’s unique needs.

  • Traditionally, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are often recommended either alone or in combination. 

  • Natural supplements, such as CBD and other herbs, acupuncture, and canine massage or physical therapy can improve your dog’s quality of life, ease the side effects of chemotherapy, and potentially extend life. 

  • Many animals have benefitted from an integrative approach of alternative and complementary medicine along with conventional treatment but it’s important that your pet’s medical oncologist and primary Veterinarian work together for optimal results.

  • Early intervention allows for the best possible outcome of canine cancer. 

  • If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, take action as soon as possible to ensure that they are comfortable and that the disease does not continue to spread.

Quality of life- The harsh reality of both human and canine cancer is that not all cancers can be cured and not all treatments are fully successful. It is important to pay attention to your dog’s quality of life.

  •  Fur The Brand encourages you to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and lean on your Vet to best determine your dog’s quality of life.   

AWARENESS

ALWAYS check for lumps and bumps! Early detection

and intervention of canine cancer allow for the best

long-term outcome and potential for cure.

  • Check your dog at LEAST once a month while petting or brushing.

  • Check everywhere including armpits, groin, ears, gums, lips, and toes.

  • Don't be alarmed. Most lumps are fatty tumors but it's always best to have any new growth looked at by your vet!

  • If new lumps or bumps are found, having your vet aspirate the mass can provide valuable information in an affordable and non-invasive way.

As with any human cancer, canine cancer can take many forms and be found in a dog's skin, blood, bones, body tissues or organs.

Why a particular dog may develop any cancer is not straightforward. Very few cancers have a single known cause.

It’s important to understand that cancer is a complex disease that is often triggered by a combination of genetic, environmental, and nutritional factors over an extended period of time. And while some breeds have a higher incidence for developing cancer at an earlier age, in most cases it’s a disease found in aging animals as their immune system weakens.