Cancer in Dogs: What You Need to Know

Cancer in pets is more common than you think. It is the number one natural cause of death in geriatric cats and dogs and accounts for nearly 50 percent of pet deaths each year. Some breeds are especially susceptible to cancer.

What Causes Cancer in Dogs?

Although the leading cause of death in older cats and dogs, cancer also is the most treatable disease when compared to life-limiting diseases such as congestive heart failure, renal failure and diabetes. An educated and dedicated veterinary health care team is essential to caring for cancer-stricken pets.

“It is crucial for pet owners to take their pets to the veterinarian twice a year to monitor them for early signs of the disease,” says Dr. Gregory Ogilvie, a California Veterinary Medical Association member, world-renowned oncologist and director of the California Veterinary Specialists (CVS) Angel Care Cancer Center in Carlsbad, California. “Routine blood tests also can help identify problems early.”

Canine Cancer Advice

Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs

Commons signs of cancer for pet owners to watch for include:

– Unexplained bleeding or discharge
– Loss of appetite
– Oral odor
– Abnormal swellings or swollen lymph nodes
– Drooling or difficulty eating or swallowing
– Changes in exercise or stamina level
– Lameness
– A sore that does not heal
– Chronic weight loss
– Change in bowel or bladder habits

The best treatment for cancer is prevention. Dr. Ogilvie recommends feeding cats and dogs a high-quality, balanced diet with low amounts of simple carbohydrates and high amounts of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. He also advises pet owners to ensure their pets exercise regularly and eliminate pets’ exposure to industrial chemicals and tobacco smoke. Talk to your veterinarian to determine what’s best for your pet.

If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, there is hope. Advances in veterinary medicine and technology offer multiple treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation and surgical procedures. Above all, enhancing your pet’s health, well-being and quality of life is the ultimate goal.

Cancer in Dogs – A Guide to Dealing With Canine Cancer

in association with our friends at Pet Screen

What’s good for us is good for our pets!

It is a sad fact that cancer amongst dogs is growing at an alarming rate. One of the big difficulties with animal cancer is that your pet cannot tell you when a cancer is developing, but if cancers can be detected early enough they respond well to treatment. With the introduction of new treatments, many cancers new respond better than ever.

Over recent years we have all become aware of the risk factors for human cancer. Responding to these by changing our habits is having a significant impact on our health. For example, stopping smoking, protection from excessive exposure to bright sunlight and eating a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetables all help to reduce cancer rates.

Another very important area is to keep a close eye on ourselves, going for regular health checks and reporting any lumps and bumps to our doctors as soon as they appear. Increased cancer awareness is without doubt improving human health.

Responding to risk factors will help reduce incidence. Being vigilant about any changes to our bodies will ensure that cancer is detected early. This will improve the chances of successful treatment. If we can do this for ourselves, we owe it to our pets to show similar care and attention.

Know your dog, keep an eye on the signs.

Approximately 25% of dogs will now die of cancer. Although this is a very alarming statistic, a positive diagnosis of cancer should not be seen as a death sentence. Cancer can be treated, and in many cases it can be cured. The success of treatment will depend on the type of cancer, the treatment used and on how early the tumour is found. The sooner treatment begins, the greater the chances of success. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your dog is to keep a close eye on them for signs of the disease. This shouldn’t be an onerous task, it can be done as a part of everyday play and pampering.

10 Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs

1. Abnormal swellings or lumps that persist or continue to grow
2. Sores that do not heal
3. Loss of appetite
4. Weight loss
5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
6. Difficulty eating or swallowing
7. Offensive odour
8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
9. Persistent lameness or stiffness
10. Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

If you spot any of these signs in your dog, you should report them to your vet as soon as possible. These symptoms often develop slowly, so it is best to get to know your dog’s habits well. It is also important to bear in mind that these symptoms can also be bought on by other diseases, so don’t immediately expect the worst.

Canine Cancer: Prognosis

Your vet will perform all the necessary diagnostic tests to discover the real cause of the problem. They may want to take an X ray, a blood test or a small sample of any growth (called a biopsy) for laboratory analysis. This information will be used to find out if the tumour is “benign” (which is a growth that can relatively easily be removed without any further complications) or “malignant” (which is a more aggressive tumour that invades tissues and can produce “secondary” growths known as metastasises).

Once your vet has made the diagnosis, they will discuss the various treatment options with you. As with human cancer treatment, these will be either surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Surgery is still the most widely used treatment for most dog cancers. In some cases a combination of treatments may be used. A combination of surgery followed by chemotherapy is used for some aggressive tumours. There are certain tumours, such as lymphoma (one of the most common malignancies in dogs), which are treated primarily by chemotherapy with very good results. Chemotherapy in dogs is not as unpleasant as it can be for humans.

Many owners worry that chemotherapy will cause their dog’s fur to fall out, this very rarely happens because the drugs attack the fast growing hairs on our heads but do not attack the slow growing coat on dogs. Whiskers, on the other hand, do grow fast, so don’t be alarmed if you dog looses few whiskers.

As cancer therapy becomes more sophisticated, there is increasing use of specialist referral centres where cancer specialists are able to provide the most advanced treatments available. Your vet will know the all the cancer referral centres and will advise you if they think one of these centres can offer better treatment for your dog.

Cancer treatment can be expensive, particularly for some of the more advanced treatments. However, the costs can be covered by pet insurance policies. If your dog is a high risk breed, taking out insurance will give you piece of mind to ensure that you give them the best treatment available, should the worst happen.

Some breeds are more prone than others.

It is unfortunate that some breeds have a higher incidence of cancer than others. It is difficult to provide a comprehensive list here, but the following is a brief guide:

Highest incidence breeds which also develop cancer at an earlier age than other dogs.

• Boxer.
• Golden Retriever
• Rottweiller
• Bernese Mountain Dog

High incidence breeds

• Boston Terrier
• English Bulldog
• Scottish Terrier
• Cocker Spaniel

Average incidence breeds:

• Irish Setter
• Schnauzer
• Labrador
• Mongrels

Relatively low incidence breeds:

• Beagle
• Poodle
• Collie
• Dachshund

The (near) future.

Research into better treatments for dog cancer is being conducted by the veterinary schools around the UK, specialist centres such as the Animal Health Trust and by pet health companies. The advances in biology are producing a steady flow of new treatments and tests which are now becoming available to improve cancer care.

At PetScreen we are developing new techniques to help spot cancer early and also to assist your vet in selecting the best possible treatment for your pet. To help us in this effort, we need small samples of tumour tissue and blood which are left over from your vet’s routine diagnostic tests. If you would like to help in this research effort by agreeing to donate samples which will be used to improve cancer care in the near future, please talk to your vet. If they could contact us on, then we will contact them to discuss the details of sending the samples to our laboratory.

By working together we can help fight this disease.

[You are free to print this article and take it with you to your vet to discuss cancer screening for your pet]


Video Resources: Canine Cancer

Dog Cancer Consultation Online?

A pet health service is to offer canine cancer consultations via online teleconferencing service.

Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, the largest provider of in-home veterinary hospice and euthanasia, today announced it has expanded their service offerings to include phone or Skype® consultations with Karri Miller DVM, MS, DACVIM.  Dr. Miller, a Florida veterinarian who is board certified in oncology, has joined Lap of Love to assist families around the country facing the difficult diagnosis of cancer in their companion animal.

"This service will help families understand what their pet is going through and what their options are for treatment or hospice care," says founder Dr. Dani McVety. "Many pet parents are concerned with the expense of cancer treatments or simply scared of chemotherapy, but they don't realize that cats and dogs tolerate and respond well to chemotherapy. Many different treatment options exist and can be tailored to the needs of your pet and your family. The goal of cancer treatment, whether it is curative or palliative, is to improve the quality of your pet's life."

After speaking with Dr. Miller, clients are emailed a review of their discussion, an overview of their pet's disease, and possible treatment options.  The same report is also sent to their family veterinarian.  "So often a pet owner who has just learned that their pet has a terminal illness like cancer needs time: time to think, time to adjust, time to learn about the disease and options and time to make decisions," says Dr. Miller. "Providing these consultations will help support the family during the entire process and help them feel empowered during this difficult time.  Once the family has the knowledge about their pet's cancer and possible treatments, they can decide what course of action is best for them."

To learn more, go to and click the 'Pet Cancer' tab

BioCurex Announces Canine Cancer Screening News

BioCurex Inc has announced its wholly owned subsidiary, OncoPet(TM) Diagnostics, Inc., has executed an agreement for the distribution of the OncoPet Sample Collection Kit for canine cancer diagnosis with Butler Schein(TM) Animal Health. Butler Schein Animal Health, a division of Henry Schein (Nasdaq:HSIC), is the leading companion animal health distribution company in the U.S.

According to the agreement, Butler Schein is allowed to purchase the OncoPet Sample Collection Kit from OncoPet Diagnostics to resell to their vast network of veterinary professionals in the United States. The Company has sent Webster Veterinary notice of termination of its previous distribution agreement.

"We are extremely satisfied to have completed a definitive distribution agreement for sales of the OncoPet Sample Collection Kit with Butler Schein," stated Dr. Paul D. Slowey, President of BioCurex. "With the largest animal health distribution company in the U.S. now under agreement with OncoPet, we are confident that our products and services will be comprehensively represented to animal health professionals throughout the largest veterinary market in the world.

Dr. Ricardo Moro, OncoPet's President and BioCurex's CEO added, "It is important to stress the significance of this agreement because the largest distributor of veterinary products in the U.S. knows what sells well and how to make money with the products they carry. Their confidence in the OncoPet RECAF test is a huge endorsement and a clear indication of its commercial potential. The sales force of this company is in the hundreds and our facilities are ready to process any orders resulting from their efforts.

New Kit Gives Hope for Canine Lymphoma Diagnosis

A new diagnostic kit which takes the uncertainty out of lymphoma diagnosis, has been launched at the Veterinary Cancer Society’s annual conference this month.

Developed by PetScreen in the UK, the announcement is a significant breakthrough in the diagnosis of canine lymphoma with the major benefit being that it is able to differentiate between patients with lymphadenopathy due to lymphoma and lymphadenopathy due to other ailments such as lymphoid hyperplasia.

The announcement also signals a partnership and commercial venture between PetScreen Ltd and Tridelta Development Ltd to jointly develop manufacture and market a unique range of veterinary cancer diagnostic kits under the banner of ‘Tri-Screen’ ( PetScreen has established the first reference laboratory offering the Advanced Lymphoma Blood Test (ALBT) utilising the Tri-Screen Canine Lymphoma assay kit. The kit is available now to enable laboratories worldwide to offer veterinarians this advanced testing system.

For the past two years, PetScreen’s research team have been busy characterising and identifying the biomarkers used in their earlier lymphoma blood test. They found that two of the markers are Acute Phase Proteins (APP’s). Although APP’s have been investigated in veterinary medicine for some time PetScreen has developed a unique multi-marker approach which led to the development of patented and copyrighted analytical algorithms which combine the relative values of both Haptoglobin and C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in serum.

By enlisting the support of vets in the UK and USA the assay has been rigorously tested with 194 canine patients with lymphoma, benign lymphoid hyperplasia and other diseases with similar presentation to lymphoma as well as healthy dogs.

By testing the acute phase proteins using immunoassay, PetScreen achieved excellent levels of high performance, reproducibility and objectivity. The combination of the three diagnostic elements enables differentiation with a very high degree of sensitivity and specificity … ensuring an appropriate treatment regimen can begin at a critical early stage of disease identification and development.

In order to make this available to a global reference laboratory market, a partner with a unique understanding of APP diagnostic kit manufacture and marketing was required … it quickly became apparent that Tridelta’s reputation and experience with the international pharmaceutical industry in this niche sector qualified their preferred partner status. Each company brings its own strengths to the Tri-Screen brand of diagnostic kits. For Tridelta it is an important step into the companion animal marketplace; for PetScreen, the opportunity to globalise and advance their veterinary diagnostics expertise in this important and rapidly emerging sector.


Cancer in Dogs: Diet & Nutrition

Could superfoods help your dog beat cancer?

Diet is one of the most important factors that govern a dog’s health. Vitality, well being and appearance are all heavily influenced by the nutrients that a dog receives, but is it possible to fight off an already established disease as serious as Cancer with specially selected foods?

Mark Stevens of Mount Vernon, Washington explained how his partner devised a specialised diet for their dog after a Cancer diagnosis and the progress they made.

“My girlfriend’s dog Jake was given two months to live due to having four tumours. The external pilot tumour was surgically removed. Jake is 51.6 lbs., male, neutered at about 2 years of age, currently about13 years old. Except for the Cancer he’s in good health. My girlfriend Sheila put him on a special diet. In the dogs’ four week review, one tumour was gone the other two were noticeably smaller. He may be clear of cancer in the next two months. Here is the food diary she kept with the results as they occurred.

Late January 2007: Anal gland carcinoma diagnosed by Dr. O’Roark at Animal Care Center in Mount Vernon, Washington. Appetite good, but keeps disliking different foods; this had already started but I hadn’t quite noticed. Immediately started finding herbs to put Jake on, including: Multi-Vitamin, Vitamin E and C, Salmon Oil, Whey Amino Acids, Vitamin A and D, Maitake whole, Lipoic Acid, Co-Q10, Fibre (inulin), Bone Meal, Broccoli Sprouts, Turmeric, Quercetin, IP-6, Boswellia Seratta.

2nd February: A golf ball sized anal gland carcinoma (squamous cell carcinoma) was removed by Dr. O’Roark. The analysis said low grade tumour, completely resected with clean margins.

9th February: We saw Dr Goklait at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Lynnwood to check to see if the Cancer had spread. Took x-rays, blood work, ultra-sound. Found golf ball size tumour on lung lobe, 2 pencil eraser size tumours on lung lobe and 1 pencil eraser size tumour on spleen.

The doctor said chemotherapy was ineffective on this type of tumour. I showed him the list of pills I was giving Jake. He said to keep giving glutamine and that Milk Thistle was good, Fibre (inulin) also good, and Broccoli Sprouts should be golf-ball size portion. He advised me to remove from my list Vitamins A and D.

10th February: Virtually every plant has its own defences and therefore something in it is good for cancer, which makes all of the literature very confusing. I searched the internet to add to my herb list. Looked for educational sites with studies, I also looked up herbs that I knew were well thought of to see what they did for cancer.

Most surprising to me were several studies that indicated that Vitamins E,C, beta-carotene and A, as well as a couple of isolated broccoli antioxidants appeared to hasten death and support some cancers. This caused me to remove the pill broccoli antioxidants and go back to broccoli sprouts.

12th February: I saw Dr. O’Roark today. A pencil eraser sized tumour was back in Jake’s anal gland area. Dr. O’Roark took a smear from it and said it was cancerous. I’m really disappointed that it came back so soon.

16th February: Saw Dr. Sodi (Ayurvedic Doctor) at Animal Hospital of Lynnwood We couldn’t find the tumour, Dr. Sodi looked for it and he couldn’t find the pencil eraser size tumour in the anal gland area either.

Dr. Sodi didn’t pare my list down much as I had hoped. He said everything on it was said to be good for cancer, and there are 5000+ herbs out there which is what makes the choices confusing.

He gave me his protocol for treatment, which is Curcumin, Artimisinin, Butyrex, Ashwagandha, and Maitake-Reishi-Shiitake formula, plus a veg-enzyme every time the dog eats.

20th February: Today we saw Dr. Tripp, an oncologist with Veterinary Cancer Specialists. The chances of metastasis (spreading of the Cancer) is 85% in squamous cell carcinoma, and there is a 15% chance Adenocarcinoma.

Jake’s tumours are on both lobes so they can’t be resected, the vet said he wouldn’t want to put my dog through that anyway.

23rd February: I received Peroxicam in the mail and have started using it.

6th March: I had phone consultation with Dr. Siegler of the Animal Healing Center. He said that the theory of Vitamins E, C and A promoting existing cancers were controversial studies. Had told me to add back in my multi-Vitamin and to increase the dose of Vitamin C, to remove Ginkgo Biloba, Pau D’Arco, Echinacea, Extra mushrooms (other than MRS), Black Elderberry Extract, Ginseng, Lutein, Lycopene, Garlic Clove, Olive Leaf, Rosemary.

7th March: Setback! Jake finally ate (and liked well) a can of dog food, after not liking food choices enough to eat well for a couple of days. Then he ate the paper towel when I wasn’t looking.

9th March:. Friday. Another setback. I received Siegler’s protocol. It was homeopathic and I’m not familiar with that. I had mentioned that chemotherapy doesn’t work on this cancer. I was supposed to dilute this remedy but misread the instructions and gave it straight, then I immediately gave Jake lots of yoghurt. I consulted a 24 hour toxicology helpline. Jake was agitated that night. The next day he liked food even less than before, I gave him his herbals with yoghurt, he finally threw it all up (about 1and1/2 lbs). Sunday we babied him with syringe fed good foods, it stayed down, he feels better, got all his herbals, exercised well.

I’ve had a tremendous amount of trouble getting Jake to eat, and after cooking lots of different dishes for Jake, giving him raw beef, buffalo, and spoon feeding raw ground veggies, I’ve somewhat given up on depending on getting him to eat of his own choice. My best luck getting him to eat on his own has been spreading out about five flavour choices at meal time and letting him choose. Also, I think it’s likely I’ve been upsetting his stomach with my pills. Now, in addition to offering him food at meal time, I spoon feed him food with his pills and I don’t think he gets an upset stomach any more. I try to keep his total amount of food solids down to what he always ate, about 1.5 cups for breakfast. and dinner. Jake doesn’t seem to mind the spoon feeding, just the pills.

I feel uncertain about: giving my dog the Vitamin A, C, and E that I’m giving him (and how to replace his multi-Vitamin if I again remove these antioxidants. I’m also considering adding back in Lycopene, Lutein, and Black-Elderberry Extract (they didn’t seem to upset his stomach, and some studies say they help with some cancers, and they weren’t hard to give). I would love for some Doctor who understands the 5 types of cancer cell origins to look over the pub-med studies and tell me what has helped before in Jake’s type of cancer cell line.

The only things I’m now giving Jake that I feel have some potential for upsetting his stomach are: Vitamin C, Lipoic Acid, Green Tea in his water, Resveratrol and Quercetin, Cats Claw, Peroxicam, Broccoli Sprouts.

20th March: I saw Dr. Tripp again; he took an X-ray and did blood work. Still no sign of tumour in anal gland area and the tumour on the spleen is gone. The small tumour on Jake’s lung is smaller. The large tumour on the lung is 0.2cm thumb. The blood work came back very good, only 1 liver enzyme slightly out of range, but no others, and it is actually better than last time we did blood work.

At this point I will continue what I’m doing, and try to figure out how to be more aggressive. I’ll try to give him more fish oil. I’ll also start doing ground 10 minute aged broccoli sprouts in yoghurt 3 times daily instead of two. I’ve added back in 1/4 cup am + pm fresh ground nutrient-rich organic veggies in yoghurt. I will also try harder to get Jake to go to bed earlier and shall continue taking him for runs on the park, but I’d prefer to find a way to give him stress-bearing exercise in the hope of getting him to produce more dystrophin to improve his appetite.

Can Dogs Get Breast Cancer?

Breast tumors can often occur in unspayed female dogs. Tumors are very often caused by hormonal imbalances and changes, together with a general state of toxemia and ill health. The breast tumor can be linked with an aestrogen factor.

What Are Tumors?

Tumors on any part of the body are the body’s attempt to localise and isolate some disease condition. “Tumor” means swelling, and tumors are benign or malignant by classification. In reality, a tumor is often benign in certain of its areas and malignant in others. Biopsies can aggravate the malignant portion of tumors, sometimes causing their rapid spreading.

Treatment for Breast Cancer in Dogs

By cutting out the tumor or tumors, one is only removing the local indications of the disease. Nothing is being done about the cause. In many cases the cause has not even been sought for or recognised.

Treatment Therapies for Canine Breast Cancer

Therapies that will decrease or dry up a tumor can also serve to prevent them. Nonorthodox treatments have been used to stop the spread, even though they did not significantly reduce the size of the tumor. It is the spread of a malignancy that kills, more often than the size of the tumor itself. Removing the toxic or poisonous quality is all-important in treating a tumor, malignant or otherwise.

Breast Cancer in Dogs: Diet

A diet rich in live, raw foods, will serve to supply vital enzymes to the body. Enzyme therapy may be indicated along with raw foods.

A theory on cancer that seems most valid among nutritional circles is that cancer is partly caused by faulty protein metabolisation. By changing to a raw, live-food diet, you will give the blood a chance to clarify itself. A clean blood stream means a healthy body. A diseased, choked-up blood stream can breed nothing but disease. Herbal therapies include blue violet leaves, red clover, goldenseal, garlic, and turnip used both internally and as a poultice; goose grass as a poultice; burdock, dandelion root, slippery elm, comfrey, blue flag, and poke root as a poultice and as tea.

Bone Marrow Transplant Cure for Canine Lymphoma?

According to an article at K9 Magazine, bone marrow transplants are offering a potential life saving intervention in the treatment of canine lymphoma.

Doctors at North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital are now using bone marrow transplants (BMT) to treat canine patients with lymphoma – a new application of an existing technology responsible for saving the lives of thousands of humans each year. 

It was the impressive success rate of NCSU’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit that convinced Kristie and Johnny Sullens that a BMT was the best chance of saving their dog Angel’s life.  After all, she was a vibrant, 5 year old Carolina Yellow Dog with years of life left to live, and an adoring brother named Romeo that couldn’t stand to be apart from her for even a minute.

From the moment she showed up on their doorstep as a stray puppy, Angel had been their child in every sense, and it was unbearable to imagine their family without her. How could they not do everything possible to attempt a real cure for her cancer?  The vet’s prognosis was that with chemotherapy alone, she would only live another 6-12 months — including six months of treatment.  It just wasn’t enough time. And so, Kristie and Johnny quickly decided that no matter what it took, Angel would be the 15th dog at NCSU to receive a bone marrow transplant.


Surgery for Cancer in Dogs

According to a survey conducted by the largest pet insurer in the USA, surgery for canine cancers featured most prominently in the top 10 dog conditions requiring surgical intervention.

In the top 10 list, surgery for Cancer of the Liver, Cancer of the Abdominal Wall, Cancer of the Mouth and Cancer of the Nasal Cavity showed that 40% of the top 10 conditions were cancer related.

"Veterinary medicine has made considerable advancements in recent years, providing pet owners surgical options that weren't available to them even five years ago," said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI – the insurance company behind the study.

"While this is certainly good news, pet owners are often unaware of the cost of these surgeries. Surgical claims are typically some of the most expensive received at VPI, with the average claim routinely costing thousands of dollars.

It's not only important for pet owners to realize the surgical choices open to them but to take steps to be financially prepared should their pet require surgery."

Lymphoma in Dogs

K9 Magazine has published a free report on lymphoma in dogs which you can access online today.


Not long ago, when a dog was diagnosed with lymphoma, one of the most common forms of canine cancer, pet guardians had little reason to hope for a cure. With success rates of less than 2% and remission times lasting on average just over 12 months, current chemotherapy protocols have not been able to offer much promise of long term success. But, a new method of treating dogs with lymphoma is changing all of that.

Download the report: Lymphoma in Dogs

Can Dogs Get Cancer From Second Hand Smoke?

According to K9 Magazine, dogs are at risk from the dangers of passive smoking.

Animal charity PDSA is quoted in K9 Magazine:

Wednesday 11 March is National No Smoking Day and as people across the country consider stubbing out once and for all, leading veterinary charity, PDSA, is encouraging owners to consider their pet’s health when lighting up.

Research* shows cats exposed to second-hand smoke are twice as likely to develop feline lymphoma, a potentially fatal form of cancer, in smoking households. It can also make them sneeze, cough and wheeze.

Dogs are also very susceptible to smoking-related respiratory problems and their exposure to tobacco smoke has been linked to nasal and sinus cancers**.

Cigarette smoke can also be extremely harmful to pet birds, which have very sensitive respiratory systems.

“The effects of passive smoking on humans are well known, but many people don’t realise their pets are also affected by breathing in second-hand smoke,” says PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Sean Wensley.